A walkthrough in the park


By Jerry McDonald

NAPA _ The Oakland Raiders held a practice so light it could have joined the hot air balloons which occasionally float over the picturesque wine country.

I’ve never understood the worth of the walkthrough, players don’t even bother to wear numbered jerseys and mill about in what appears to be no more than a lollygag session.

It’s been explained that it’s a dress rehearsal of sorts for a coming game, although it’s doubtful that Shane Lechler will face the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday night at quarterback.

That’s what Lechler did against the defense, taking a few snaps, dropping back at half-speed and even launching a few passes. Lechler, like Ray Guy, still has a good arm, by the way. Cornerback Chris Carr learned the hard way when he took one off the face mask.

Another strange thing about the walkthrough _ the Raiders held it in the morning, and then had a normal practicein the afternoon. Usually, the walkthorugh is the last practice before game.

Bits and pieces from Thursday’s real practice:

— Quarterback Andrew Walter continues to alternate good passes with bad ones, throwing a sideline strike to Johnnie Morant for a would-be touchdown on one play and missing Kevin McMahan on a short wobbler the next.

— Marques Tuiasosopo didn’t fare any better in his bid to be the No. 2 quarterback, at one point suffering an interception by Stanford free agent Timi Wusu, a linebcaker buried on the depth chart who is likely to be among the early cuts.

— Expect the Raiders to take a long look at Stanford Routt, particularly as a slot corner, against Philadelphia. Tyrone Poole is unlikely to play with a hamstring injury, and although the Raiders love Poole’s experience and know-how, Routt, at 6-foot-2, has the size suited for the position.

More important, Routt has put together a handful of solid practices of late, making plays on the ball as well as an occasional interception.

On play over the middle, Tuiasosopo had McMahan open, only to have Routt, trailing the play, deflect the ball with a jab even though his back was to the quarterback.

— The darkhorse bid of tight end John Madsen to make the roster has stalled temporarily. Madsen suffered an oblique strain he says will leave him “day-to-day.”

— Camp quarterback Kent Smith, a left-hander from Central Michigan, got more drill work than usual Thursday and had some rough moments, including one interception by Fabian Washington.

— LaMont Jordan, who someone inexplicably admitted Tuesday he played last season without paying much attention to the blocking schemes, continued to run well _ albeit against a defense which isn’t allowed to tackle him.

Jordan had his worst game as a starter last season in Week 3 against Philadelphia, gaining only 19 yards on 16 carries.

— Getting lots of feedback on Al Davis’ cryptic statement at his Tuesday press conference regarding the nine players he has introduced to the Hall of Fame. Davis said he had a “love affair” with all of them except one.

To review, the players Davis has already introduced in Canton, Ohio, are Lance Alworth, Jim Otto, George Blanda, Willie Brown, Gene Upshaw, Fred Biletnikoff, Art Shell and Ted Hendricks.

He introduces John Madden Saturday.

So which one had some sort of falling out with Davis?

Probably none in terms of something serious. But some in the organization believe his relationship with Biletnikoff, while built on respect and trust, has occasinally been more combative than the others.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer