By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, April 10th, 2007 at 3:31 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Randy Moss elected not to join the Raiders for their first voluntary minicamp Tuesday. It’s an exaggeration, but not by much, to say his teammates were too busy to notice.
The Raiders have gone back to setting a furious practice pace, getting in more work in less time. It’s something they did in the Jon Gruden-Bill Callahan years, backing off slightly in the Norv Turner years, before coming to a screeching halt under Art Shell.
Center Jeremy Newberry, who participated in drills but not the no-pads scrimmage session, estimated he went through 16 drills in 20 minutes.
Some players struggled to keep up. Most seemed to enjoy it. There was grumbling about the length of Shell’s practices, which seemed even longer because there was a lack of urgency and too much standing around.
“That’s the pace of practice that we have to get to,” Raiders coach Lane Kiffin said. “We have a long ways to go. It’s Day 1, guys were out there moving around. They’re starting to understand the tempo we preached about in our meetings for awhile now. With that being said, we have a long ways to go with it but that’s the tempo we practice at because I don’t know any other tempo.”
Tuesday news and notes:
– Moss was one of three prominent Raiders who did not attend the voluntary camp, along with Warren Sapp and Derrick Burgess. Kickers Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler were also absent.
Kiffin estimated attendance at 95 percent.
– Kiffin said he has spoken to Moss since their 15-minute conversation after his hiring, but did not elaborate. He said Moss was expected to attend the mandatory minicamp following the draft.
– In the 20 or so minutes the media was allowed to watch the Raiders scrimmage, Oakland did not throw a single pass more than 15 yards downfield. Quarterback Andrew Walter rolled out, took short drops and even took off and ran on occasion.
He didn’t look particularly nimble, but at least Walter was taking evasive action after spending 2006 as a clay pigeon. Walter is getting the bulk of the work, with Josh Booty and Jeff Otis getting the occasional scrap.
– Tackles Robert Gallery and Barry Sims each played both left and right tackle. Paul McQuistian, listed as a tackle on the Raiders roster, was at left guard.
– Tyler Brayton, who has played both linebacker and defensive end, got some snaps inside at defensive tackle.
– Kiffin confirmed wide receiver Calvin Johnson of Georgia Tech had visited the facility and said quarterback JaMarcus Russell would be in Alameda soon. No telling what coaches really think this time of year, but it was interesting Kiffin, when extolling the virtues of Johnson, finished his sentence by saying, “He’s perfect.”
– Running back LaMont Jordan, who elected to accept a $3 million roster bonus instead of the $4.75 million he was due, was philosophical about the transaction.
“It was pretty much, `take a pay cut or get released,’ ” Jordan said. “Make no mistake about it, I’m not happy about having to take a pay cut. I’m not happy about it at all. But at this point, there’s nothing I can do about it. Had I left, I felt that I would have failed here . . . it was my first starting gig, we were terrible for two yeras, the running game was at the bottom, and I would have felt like I failed.”
– Center Jake Grove is embracing the new zone and cut-blocking offensive philosophy even though it’s all new to him.
“We’ve got direction, something that’s been missing here in the past,” Grove said. “I’ll have to work hard to master it. We’ve had a different line coach every year I’ve been here and I haven’t had the chance to master one thing. I’m dedicating myself to this, as we all are, and making this work for us.”
Grove said he wasn’t entirely sure he would remain a center, although it’s unlikely Newberry will be a factor as a starter until he proves his surgically repaired knees can hold up.
Center Chris Morris, a rookie last year, saw some snaps at guard.
– Grove took some solace in being able to start 16 games last season.
“I think it took a lot of mental toughness, a lot of physical toughness to battle through that,” Grove said. “That was just a small accomplishment in a seas of failures.”
– Spotted on the field and not the training room _ wide receiver Carlos Francis.
– Spotted on the field watching practice _ personnel executive Mike Lombardi, banished from the field in the Shell regime.
– Justin Fargas, recovering from a shoulder injury, was at the minicamp but did not practice.
– Center Adam Treu, rehabbing from a torn quadriceps, was working out with trainers and did not practice.