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Day Two: The Boss Arrives

NFL writer Jerry McDonald

Posted by Jerry McDonald, NFL editor and writer for ANG Newspapers
Al Davis made his first appearance at Saturday’s second session, needing a little help to get around but none when it came to seizing the moment.
Davis moved slowly, with the aid of a walker, in what was surely a stubborn concession to reduced mobility.
While interacting with players and in an informal chat with a handful of media, Davis seemed no different than the Davis who brought his team back to Oakland 10 years ago.

“Hey, MIA,” Davis called to cornerback Charles Woodson, who missed most of both practices with a groin strain. “I come up here one day and you’re MIA.”

“What, you didn’t feel my presence?” joked Woodson. “I’m going to put you on punt return,” Davis said. “I’ve been trying to get back there,” Woodson said.

Randy Moss stopped by for a chat, exchanging warm greetings with the man who brought him to Oakland in the NFL’s biggest offseason deal. Davis and tight end Rickey Dudley, who returned to the Raiders after leaving as a free agent following the 2000 season, renewed acquaintances.

Davis even made his way over to reporters, striking up a conversation about the state of the newspaper business. When it was suggested Davis purchase a couple of newspapers, he replied, “I don’t want to invest. I want to win.’

Gulp!
It was just a little soreness, said coach Norv Turner.

“I’m good,” said Woodson after signing a few autographs before ducking into the hallway of the Marriott Hotel.

There’s no reason to believe Woodson’s groin injury is anything other than what Turner and Woodson say it is. No reason to take any chances on the second day of training camp.

But the scene was compelling for a few moments, enough to make coaches and management feel a little queasy at the breakfast hour.

Woodson gingerly made his way to the training table at 9:35 a.m., pulled off the shoulder pads, then kicked back on the table. With Woodson lying on one side, knees bent and elevated, a trainer worked on him. He repeated the treatment on the other side. Then he was on his back.

The trainer fitted Woodson with a bandage which went around his left leg and waist. After a brief conversation, the wrap was taken off, and Woodson put the pads back on.

He returned to the field, but only as a spectator to watch the remainder of practice.

Head trainer Rod Martin eventually made his way to personnel executive Mike Lombardi. No one seemed overly concerned, although there was no doubt a few moments of fear.

Considering Woodson counts for more than 12 percent of the $85.5 million salary cap – a figure which will encompass a 53-man roster – it will be high drama every time he breaks a fingernail.

Star Search
The first weekend day of training camp brought a good 50 or 60 autograph seekers, with the loudest roar by far coming when Randy Moss left the field and made the walk past a four-foot high fence which keeps fans from the corridor between the field and the hotel.

The noise was so loud it got through Moss’ headphones, and he stopped to sign a few autographs. It was nearly as loud for Woodson, who also did his share of signing.

Not Warren Sapp. He was on his way to giving the fans a blow off until a woman holding a baby screeched his name. Sapp held the baby wearing a Jerry Rice jersey for a photo, then walked straight into the hotel without signing.

Class Act
Center Adam Treu, relegated once again to a role as a backup and long-snapper, met the media for the first time since his demotion and handled it with his usual grace.

Treu has enough pride to think he can start, but isn’t willing to risk locker room chemistry by insisting he should. He’s lasted eight seasons because of his willingness to be a team player.

The most senior Raider in terms of years of service with the organization, Treu’s legacy won’t be anything like that of predecessors such as Jim Otto, Dave Dalby or Don Mosebar. He hasn’t made headlines – good, bad and tragic – like Barret Robbins.

But he’s as professional as any of them, and he’s also got a sense of humor. Treu missed the morning workout because of a calf injury, rehabbing in the swimming pool along with some hotel guests.

“I did some cardio work in the swimming pool and didn’t drown, so that’s good,” Treu said.
Treu became the father of a baby boy on Feb. 3.

“He’s a fat-head,” Treu said.

The Ryan Watch
The Raiders P.R. staff hopes to produce defensive coordinator Rob Ryan for a group interview Sunday. Ryan has been off limits since making a few blunt, honest comments about his team’s performance to the Alameda Newspaper Group following a season-opening 24-21 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Spelling Bee
A sign on the refrigerator in the media work room notes that bottled water is available “FOR WRITTERS AND PHOTOGROPHERS.”

Self-Discipline
Moss dropped to the ground and did 10 pushups after dropping a medium-range pass in the afternoon session.

Landscapers Needed
After three practice sessions, Oakland’s practice fields have more divots than on overcrowded fairway.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer