Day 15: It

Raiders writer Bill Soliday

Posted by Bill Soliday, Raiders beat writer for ANG Newspapers
When Phillip Buchanon left for Houston, nobody threw him a going away party in Oakland. His act was growing old with fans, teammates, coaches and we won’t even get into his media relations. Suffice it to say, listening to him talk about himself in the third person got a little old after awhile.

Personally, I don’t think he’s a bad guy. A bit undisciplined and a bit egocentric (actually a lot egocentric), yes. Bad guy…ehhhh…probably not.

Well, he’s in Houston now and the Texans seem to think “Showtime” is just the solution for their 24th ranked pass defense … even though he was starting on the league’s 30th ranked pass defense a year ago.

“Phillip’s got so much talent,” secondary coach Jon Hoke said. “If he does his job consistently, he’s going to make us better. He can bring so much to our defense because he’s got so much big play ability.”

The Texans want him to team up with Dunta Robinson to play tight man coverage. Well, good luck there. Buchanon played…well…frankly it was rather hard to figure out just what he was playing at times.

As for Hoke’s comment about big plays, there is no questioning that. He had six interceptions two years ago and returned two for touchdowns. Raider fans remember well that he also returned three punts for touchdowns during his Oakland years.

Ah, but they also remember him yanking his helmet off in celebration after a big play in Kansas City, taking the team out of field goal range in a tight game.

Who can forget Tim Brown’s comment following that game: “Phillip giveth and Phillip taketh away.”

Phillip is now saying that day marked the beginning of the end in Oakland, as far as he was concerned. In a story written by John McClain in the Houston Chronicle, Buchanon let his feelings out.

“When Tim Brown said what he said, everything went downhill for me,” Buchanon said. “Basically he was saying that I help sometimes and sometimes I mess up. Ever since he said that, I lost respect for him. Ever since then, everybody’s been jumping on me.”

Buchanon requested a trade late in the 2004 season to get away from the Raiders, who subsequently obliged him. New teammate receiver Andre Johnson, who played with Buchanon and was his best friend at the University of Miami, has been his buddy in Houston.

“Phillip’s a good guy,” Johnson said. “He’s not what everybody says he is. He’s going to speak his mind. He’s not going to lie just to impress anybody. He said what he felt (in Oakland) and it just got him in a bad situation.

“A lot of people have different opinions of Phillip. A lot of people say he brags a lot, talks a lot (but) he’s not that type of guy. He plays with a lot of confidence and he’s really going to help our defense because he makes a lot of plays.”

The Raiders fly out of Oakland tomorrow morning bound for Houston and a reunion with Showtime and Company. Two practices going against Randy Moss and his buddies will ensue, then a Saturday night game.

Its show time and only time will tell who will be taking the bows when the aisles empty.

Lechler’s Learning Curve
Once a football player…always a football player. Shane Lechler was a quarterback in high school. Now he is a punter in the NFL. And the Raiders wish he’d act like one. A punter, that is.

Lechler, who just happens to be the most prolific punter in the history of the NFL and was probably the Raiders MVP a year ago, really got everybody’s knickers in a bunch Saturday night on his first game kick of the season.

The snap was a little off, the rush was on him like a wad of hornets so he took off running around right end … which seemed like a good idea at the time. Not such a good one now.

He got snagged by Saleem Rashad of the 49ers, staggered to the ground and came up with a pulled hamstring on his right kicking leg. He also came up getting an earful from his coaches, who had told him beforehand to do nothing heroic in a mere exhibition game.

Now he knows. And even though the injury has been declared nothing serious, because leg injuries to kickers can linger and diminish their effectiveness long after they return, there is unofficial concern.

“On a scale of one to ten, I’d say this was a five,” Lechler said Monday. “But I’ll tell you what, yesterday (Sunday) it felt a lot better than I thought it would feel. I was really happy with that. We’ll see. Time will tell with this one.”

For the record, Lechler said even if the snap had been on the money he wouldn’t have been able to kick given the rush he was facing.

“It happened when the guy tripped me a little bit,” he said. “If my hamstring doesn’t give up on me there, I definitely wouldn’t have gone down. I watched it on film. I tried to regain my balance and there was just nothing there. That’s when it happened.”

Lechler admitted he was too much of a player at heart to just lie down as his coaches ordered.

“You’re not going to do that,” he said, revealing his competitive spirit. “I felt like a dumb ass after it really did happen and I didn’t do what they said. (But) I would have really felt like one too if I had just laid down.”

Great To See Ya
Guests at the Raider camp Monday afternoon were affiliated with a business enterprise headed by former 49ers Harris Barton and Ronnie Lott. Although Lott was not present, Barton was. A Niner alumnus visiting the dark side?

“They’ve been really nice to us,” Barton said. “Everybody’s been commenting on it.”

That’s swell, but Barton hadn’t heard what happened to former 49ers teammate Brent Jones several years ago when he showed up as working press as a TV commentator.

Jones was decidedly NOT welcome. Something to do with the contract he and Steve Young signed with Carmen Policy several years earlier that the Raiders felt represented an illegal evasion of rules involving the salary cap.

Brent has not been back and I doubt if Steve will make a stab at attending. As for Carmen … even though he’s now a Napa vintner, forget it.

Eyes And Ears

  • Maybe it was the 21-13 loss to those 49ers, but there appeared to be certain intensity to Monday’s first practice since the defeat. Over here, Warren Sapp was spewing forth a rant about how he was being held, over there Robert Gallery was being upended and landing on his keester, while elsewhere guard Corey Hulsey was tossing pancake blocks like he worked at IHOP and linebacker coach Pat Jones was hollering at his charges in his best Ross Perot voice. It was supposed to be a no tackling drill but maybe it was Jones’ urging or linebacker Danny Clark forgot. He went ahead and creamed RB Justin Fargas anyway. Coach Norv Turner got into it with his offense, shouting “Hey, we’re a shifting team so get up and get set!” Splutter, splutter. Hey. They were serious out there, for what that observation may be worth.
  • Not that everything was hunky-dory. Things occasionally got sloppy. During one series of six plays, the Raiders couldn’t seem to get the ball snapped without something going afoul. There were three botched exchanges, offsides on defense and a false start on offense. QB David Rivers fumbled two snaps in a row.
  • WR Randy Moss came away unscathed once again, stumbling and falling awkwardly when rookie CB Stanford Routt stepped on him from behind.
  • In the morning drill, one of the more interesting plays was a sideline pass to Moss in which he was sandwiched between Charles Woodson and Nnamdi Asomugha in a seemingly impossible position to catch the ball. But QB Kerry Collins dropped a perfectly thrown spiral right in between the defenders and into Moss’ hands. The bad news: swarmed as he was, Moss couldn’t hold on.
  • The “believe it or not” catch of the day was made by WR John Stone. He was well covered, lost his footing, began to stagger, then reached up behind him and made an over-the-head catch for a gain of 15.
  • Let the record show that LaShaun Ward caught two touchdown passes, one of them a 55-yarder from Rivers, who was throwing darts in the morning when he was able to actually complete the center exchange.
  • After his disastrous debut, Routt made up for it with an interception and then a second in the afternoon, eliciting hearty congratulations from defensive teammates although the play probably would have drawn an interference penalty from officials. But because Routt really was in need of the encouragement, nobody made a peep about that.
  • SS Derrick Gibson keeps making plays. He intercepted a deflected pass off the hands of Alvis Whitted, a play that looked vaguely familiar – like the one that Derrick Johnson guy made Saturday night for an 87-yard touchdown.
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    Bill Soliday - Raiders Writer