The fourth-game bubble


A list in descending order of those under contract who are most likely to leave the roster as the Raiders cut to the 53-man limit Saturday:

1, tie) RB Michael Bush and RB Dominic Rhodes. Bush will either be on the regular season Physically Unable to Perform list, meaning he could return some time near midseason, or on injured reserve. Rhodes will return to the roster for the fifth game of the season after serving a suspension.

3) PK-P Tyler Fredrickson. A camp leg for Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski. Only sticks if one of them gets hurt against Seahawks _ and even if that happens the waiver wire will be given a hard look.

4) LB Kurt Campbell. Second-year product out of Albany was strictly a camp body but picked up valuable experience.

5) DE Dave Tollefson. Rob Ryan likes how hard he plays, but draft picks Quentin Moses and Jay Richardson make it a tough go for him to make it.

6) C Jesse Boone. Eventful camp for free agent who tried out in front of car headlights and tangled with Warren Sapp. But he’s not a long-snapper and has Jake Grove and Jeremy Newberry ahead of him.

7) WR Chris McFoy. Needed to truly jump off the film and on practice field to have a chance.

8 TE James Adkisson. Like John Madsen, a converted wide receiver, but Madsen does everything better.

9) WR Carlos Francis. A great story in itself that he stayed healthy all the way through camp, but didn’t do enough to break into top five or six.

10) LB Kyle Shotwell. Too many fast linebackers on the roster to keep one who survives on heart and moxie.

11) TE O.J. Santiago. Brought in when injuries hit during camp, unlikely to ascend to No. 3 spot behind Zach Miller and Madsen.

12) DT Josh Shaw. Played well during minicamps but spent much of training camp injured.

13) S Eric Frampton. Known as a play-maker at Washington State, Frampton’s around-the-ball reputation did not materialize in Napa or in preseason games.

14) CB Marquice Cole. Has the best chance of any undrafted free agent to stick to roster, but is a better candidate for release and practice squad.

15) OT Mark Wilson. Unlikely to stay? Yes, but you never know in zone blocking system which linemen will flourish.

16) G Chris Morris. Was first on the field to replace Robert Gallery when Gallery was hurt for a few plays against St. Louis, but unlikely to be kept over Kevin Boothe and Paul McQuistan.

17) OT Chad Slaughter. Missed most of training camp with calf injury, but has NFL experience on both left and right sides.

18) WR Alvis Whitted. Has some special teams value, but could be end of the line for a classy veteran with limited receiving skills.

19) CB Duane Starks. Has veteran presence at a thin position but has been hampered by hamstring problems.

20) S Hiram Eugene. Preseason touchdown was an eye-opener, Raiders appear to have four safeties locked in _ Michael Huff, Stuart Schweigert, Donovin Darius and B.J. Ward. Rarely do they carry five.

21) CB John Bowie. Was hurt early and hasn’t jumped out at anyone, but could stick because he’s a fourth-round draft pick and was the compensation for Randy Moss.

22) FB Zack Crockett. Do the Raiders keep a 34-year-old fullback ahead of a rookie prospect?

23) LB Ricky Brown. Solid special teams player who has also fared well as a middle linebacker, but there simply may not be room.

24) FB Oren O’Neal. Is his upside enough to dislodge a popular veteran presence such as Crockett?

25) RB Justin Fargas. Not many teams cut their leading rusher, but Fargas’ running style may not be suited to zone blocking. Could net a late-round draft pick from a team that needs a running back.

26) WR Mike Williams. Hard to read Lane Kiffin on this one. Is he the guy Kiffin built up when Williams arrived, or the one Kiffin has been critical of ever since?

27) RB Adimchobe Echemandu. Productive since the first Kiffin minicamp and leading the NFL in preseason rushing. But he was still playing with the third team in the third preseason game.

28) WR Travis Taylor. Had more drops than you’d like to see out of a veteran wideout, but also has more career receptions than Jerry Porter.

29) DT Tyler Brayton. Coaching staff appears to think his quickness can be an asset inside.

30) DE Chris Clemons. Got plenty of playing time early, even working with the first team nickel, but production and snaps have slowed since.

31) CB Chris Johnson. Forced fumble against the Rams, experience and makeup speed give him a good chance to stick.

32) DT Anttaj Hawthorne. Seemed relatively safe until Raiders traded for Denver tackle Gerard Warren.

33) TE Tony Stewart. Seems secure as No. 3 tight end, but back trouble is always a concern.

34) DT Gerard Warren. If the Raiders don’t like what they see, no sense giving Broncos a fifth-round draft pick.

35) LB Isaiah Ekejiuba. May never be a viable NFL linebacker, but his size and speed combo as a wedge-buster brings to mind Travian Smith.

36) QB Andrew Walter. If JaMarcus Russell’s agents get antsy with the season about to start and are willing to make a deal, Walter could become trade bait.

37) QB Josh McCown. Same scenario above if Daunte Culpepper wins starting quarterback job.

38) QB Daunte Culpepper. McCown wins the job, Russell signs and Culpepper agrees to take his $750,000 guarantee and go home.

39) LS Jon Condo. Only if a long-snapper the Raiders have had their eyes on suddenly becomes avaialble.


Final: Raiders 20, Rams 10



St. Louis–Marques Hagins 6-yard pass from Gus Frerotte (Wilkins kick)


The Rams scored on a 6-yard pass from Gus Frerotte to Marques Hagins, capping a 31-yard drive in six plays to cut the score to 20-10.

— Johnnie Lee Higgins had a 56-yard punt return for a touchdown called back because of a holding penalty on cornerback Chris Johnson.

Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick fumbled the ball through the end zone after a 30-yard run, with Johnson atoning for his penalty by knocking the ball loose. The Raiders took over on the 20 with more than eight minutes to play.

— Andrew Walter was 2-for-5 for 19 yards before giving way to Jeff Otis with less than two minutes to play.


Training camp, Day 19 (A.M.)


News and notes, sights and sounds from Tuesday morning’s practice:

— Lane Kiffin remained in the hospital with a viral infection and missed his second straight practice.

“He’s undergoing further tests and he hopes to be back soon,” a Raiders spokesman said.

The spokesman described it as a “short-term and not a long-term deal” and was holding out hope Kiffin could return as soon as Tuesday night.

— The Raiders are a little confused with regard to public relations with the head coach out. Moments after a team spokesman said no coach would be speaking with the media, offensive coordinator Greg Knapp talked to a handful of reporters.

Knapp, who said he had not talked to Kiffin since Sunday, spoke to the team in a group after practice, with special teams coordinator Brian Schneider updating players on special teams sessions.

“Training camp is really structured from the get go,” Knapp said. “We plan it out before we get here quite a bit. We will tweak it as time goes on. There’s a good plan in place so you don’t have to have a lot of adjustments right now. And even these first couple of preseason games we’re still in training camp mode not in game plan mode. It’s planned out pretty well ahead of time with Lane.”

— Running back LaMont Jordan practiced for the second consecutive day, running the ball effectively and catching everything that was thrown his way.

During one 7-on-7 drill in the red zone, Jordan circled out of the backfield and caught a wheel route for a touchdown from Josh McCown.

“Good job, LaMont, and good job selling (the route),” running backs coach Tom Rathman said.

Jordan knows his two seasons in Oakland after signing a lucrative free agent contract have not met expectations.

“There’s a lot of people questioning whether I’m the guy for the job. And of course at some point pride’s going to get in the way, and at some point you’re going to want want to make a statement. But it’s not something I talk about. Right now the AFC West, I’m clearly the back that’s not even in this hemisphere,” Jordan said. “When you look at Travis Henry, Larry Johnson and LaDainian, I’m not even mentioned on the same page as those guys. That’s something that I would like to change. I have to do my part, the offensive line has to do their part, us as a team, we have to do our part.”

— Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper were going through a drill where they were taking turns throwing corner routes against no defenders near the front pylon of the end zone, McCown to his left and Culpepper to his right.

McCown left some of his passes to the back of the receiver, where a defender could in theory get a hand on the ball. Culpepper’s passes consistently either hit the receiver or went out of bounds.

— During a goal line drill in a team session, Culpepper inexplicably forced a pass toward the left corner to Travis Taylor. Chris Carr had perfect position and made the interception in the end zone.

— During one team session, Adimchiobe Echemandu circled out of the backfield uncovered, with a defender uttering an audible “damn” before McCown even saw the opening. McCown hit Echemandu for what would have been a 50-yard plus play, with Thomas Howard and Stuart Schweigert arriving late for the defense.

— Andrew Walter, who a year ago was the quarterback of the future, has steadily gone about his business as the Raiders have drafted JaMarcus Russell and signed Josh McCown and Daunte Culpepper.

He is choosing his words carefully when questioners expressed some surprise at his preseason performance against Arizona.

“Football is a team game. It’s never all just one player,” Walter said. “When everything is working it looks good. That’s not a surprise to me or anybody in the locker room. But apparently it is a surprise to people outside and that’s fine.”

— Wide receiver Mike Williams has snagged a first-down reception under tight coverage from Fabian Washington, who was draped all over Williams at the time of the catch.

It’s been a scene replayed several times during camp. On one hand, Williams has been able to make catches under duress. On the minus side, Williams doesn’t often gain the separation you’d want, meaning passes are more at risk to be intercepted.

— RB Michael Bush said he hopes to be activated from the physically unable to perform list and said he has not been told he will be placed on injured reserve this season.

“I’m not even close to thinking about I.R.,” Bush said. “If you’re out here you see the stuff they put me through, running-wise, and you think, why is he not out there? But, I feel good every day, though.”

Bush said at the NFL scouting combine and during minicamps and OTAs he expected to be ready for training camp. However, Bush discovered once he started running and pushing himself he would need more time.

Bush’s leg, broken last year in the opener at Louisville, has a visible lump. Bush said the strength of the bone is not a problem.

“That’s where I broke it. You look at X-rays, it’s all nothing but bone,” Bush said. “It’s solid. That part of my leg is probably the strongest part of my leg. And I’ve still got the rod in it so I know it’s not going anywhere.”

There are some within the organization who believe Bush will eventually be placed on injured reserve and won’t play for the Raiders this season.

— Defensive end Chris Clemons, who has seen time with the first nickel defense, missed practice with a hamstring pull and said he hopes to be able to face San Francisco. Others who missed practice included CB Duane Starks (hamstring), CB Stanford Routt (knee), T Chad Slaughter (ankle) and DT Josh Shaw (knee).

— G Ben Claxton, battling a knee injury and relegated to riding a stationary bike for most of camp, was waived.


Training camp, Day 18


News and notes, sights and sounds from the Raiders practice Monday afternoon:

— With coach Lane Kiffin in the hospital for observation with a viral infection, according to a club spokesman, the Raiders went through a routine, if quieter practice session.

“You know, we really didn’t miss him,” said quarterback Josh McCown, failing to hold a straight face. “Nah, we noticed, because he’s always yelling and upbeat. He’s real fiery. After the first five minutes of practice you’re thinking, `Where’s coach Kiff? You miss him yelling, moving around, being high energy and getting guys going like he does. We wish him the best and hopes he gets back out here soon.”

— No word on how long Kiffin will be out, although there was some speculation it could be a few days. Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp had no specifics regarding Kiffin’s medical condition, but said Kiffin told him Sunday night, “Hey Greg, why don’t you plan out the next three days here of training camp before we get in preparation for the San Francisco game.”

— Knapp said his understanding is “It’s something he’s been fighting the last two or three days. I had a little bit of a sinus infection myself, so it’s one of those things, I think that just passed through camp.”

— Practice went as usual with Knapp running the offense, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan the defense and Brian Schneider handling special teams. Knapp and Schneider spoke to the team in the final huddle before practice ended.

“Once you get going you forget about it, but we’ll razz him when he gets back out here,” left guard Robert Gallery said. “You’ve got to be pretty sick to miss practice. It’s a little different, but that’s what assistant coaches are for.”

Said cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha: “I don’t know what’;s going on. I think he’s a little sick, or maybe he got happy with his first win and he didn’t want to show up. I don’t know.”

— Team spokesman John Herrera told reporters after practice, “It’s a viral infection. He had a temperature and went to the hospital for observation. We’re waiting to hear back when he’s a go.”

— The local hospital where Kiffin was resting would not release any information regarding his condition.

— Running back LaMont Jordan returned to practice, took some handoffs with the third team offense to get back in the groove and went through all drills with his position group, looking more lively after several days off with a sore back.

Following practice, running backs coach Tom Rathman greeted owner Al Davis in his golf cart. Davis said something to Rathman about Jordan, who was nearby and smiling.

“He’s ready to go now, turn him loose,” Rathman said. “He’s got those fresh legs.”

— During one point during Monday’s practice, Ryan appeard to shatter the record for continuous profanities previously set unofficially by Jon Gruden. If taped by NFL Network, the sound would be the same solid beep heard on a television test partern.

— Cornerback John Bowie, attempting to make up for lost time after missing practices with sore Achilles, at one point threw an elbow at veteran wide receiver Jerry Porter, who said “Hey rook” and gave him a hard stare while going back to the huddle.

— Safety Hiram Eugene punched a completed pass to Ronald Curry loose with a mighty spike. Linebacker Kurt Campbell did the same thing to Dominic Rhodes in an earlier session.

— Fullback Oren O’Neil has begun struggling with his pass receiving after catching the ball well early in camp.

— Sebastian Janikowski badly missed a 57-yard field goal attempt low and to the right.

— No noticeable shift in practice reps based on the preseason win over Arizona. Josh McCown and Andrew Walter equally split reps with the first team, with Daunte Culpepper doing most of his work with the third team. Culpepper, in 7-on-7 sessions, did get an opportunity with first-team personnel.

During a two-minute drill against a prevent defense with no timeouts, Walter failied to move the club, with Culpepper coming in to complete 5 of 6 passes, hitting Johnnie Lee Higgins for a juggling 6-yard score.

The play that set up the score came on a nice piece of improvisation. Culpepepper drifted to his left, then motioned for Johnnie Morant to break off his pattern and run down the left sideline. Asomugha managed to get a fingertip on the pass, but it went to Morant anyway for the completion to the 6.

— McCown, during his two-minute series, threw an interception to Fabian Washington on his second throw which Washington for what would have been a sure touchdown.

— Knapp said the Raiders have made no decisions regarding the quarterback rotation for Saturday night’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.

— O.J. Santiago continues to drop nearly as many balls as he catches during team sessions.

“You look like you might as well have been blocking,” said Ryan after a drop Monday.

— Warren Sapp went into an impromptu breakdance before a snap during one drill.

— Those who didn’t practice Monday included CB Stanford Routt (knee), RB Michael Bush (leg-PUP), C Jeremy Newberry (knee-rest), G Ben Claxton (knee) , T Chad Slaughter (ankle), DT Josh Shaw (knee) and CB Duane Starks (hamstring).


Training camp, Day 14


News and notes, sights and sounds from the Raider Nation Celebration Thursday night at McAfee Coliseum:

— The Raiders ran through a situational practice before a crowd of 12,000 fans that served its purpose even if it didn’t make for sensational viewing.

Oakland simulated the ride over from the hotel, the exact amount of time spent during warmups and one-on-one drills before a game, tested out its communication system from the press box to the field and even went in for a “halftime” which will mirror what takes place Saturday night against the Arizona Cardinals.

“It was not going to be something where we’re going to come out here in a scrimmage format where guys are going to be hitting and flying around,” coach Lane Kiffin said. “So that part of it, I’m sure, was painful for you guys to watch, as it was for me, but we got done what we needed to get.

They practiced safeties, free kicks and punt blocks. They walked through most any situation which could come up in a game.

Kiffin said he and the Raiders coaches had already walked through the communication aspect two months ago, putting on the headphones and experimenting with coaches in the booth.

“Some people say I do too many walkthroughs,” Kiffin said.

The fans didn’t seem to mind, and although Kiffin doesn’t realize it because he wasn’t here, it was a better show than the wave and lollygag affair the Raiders went through last season during the Raider Nation Celebration.

— During Oakland’s first offensive possession against the scout team defense, the offense lined up in a different formation in each of the first four plays, the last of which went for a touchdown from Josh McCown to rookie tight end Zach Miller.

On first down, the Raiders opened with double tight ends in Miller and John Madsen, with Jerry Porter at left split end and Ronald Curry to the right at flanker. Dominic Rhodes was the single back.

On second down, Travis Taylor was wide left with Porter in the slot and Porter split right.

On third down, Porter was on the left, Curry on the right and Miller at tight end with Zack Crockett and Rhodes lined up in the “I” formation.

— On the Raiders’ first defensive possession, Fabian Washington intercepted a sideline pass from scout team quarterback Jeff Otis and ran into the end zone.

— In contrast to last year, when Porter drew thunderous boos for his well-publicized feud with coach Art Shell, the wide receiver drew a round of cheers during wide receiver drills for catching a pass in the end zone.

During introduction, the announcement of Porter’s name drew cheers and only a small smattering of boos.

— If Thursday night’s crowd represented a cross section of Raider fans _ and chances are it did _ the two players most to blame for last year’s 2-14 season were quarterback Andrew Walter and left guard Robert Gallery, who were the only players who drew nearly as many boos as cheers.

— The people’s choice at quarteback is Daunte Culpepper, who got the biggest ovation among the quarterbacks when the roster was introduced. He got a rise out of the crowd for completing his first two passes, the first a crossing route to Johnnie Lee Higgins and then a corner route for a touchdown to Madsen, plays in which he locked on both receivers early and executed the throws.

On his second possession, Culpepper threw one a good 60 yards in the air that was intercepted by Levonne Rowan near the end zone.

— The Raider “legends” in attendance were wide receiver Cliff Branch, linebacker Jeff Barnes, linebacker Jerry Robinson, guard George Buehler, tight end Ted Kwalick, wide receiver Morris Bradshaw, wide receiver Rod Sherman, running back Clem Daniels, linebacker Gary Weaver, defensive back Howie Williams, offensive tackle Robert Jenkins and cornerback Willie Brown.

— In case you were wondering, no sign of Shell . . . or Fred Biletnikoff, for that matter.

— LaMont Jordan played catch with a football with fans in the black hole before warmups.

— During a “halftime” interview with Warren Sapp shown on the big screen, broadcaster/cheerleader J.T. the Brick was blathering on about something or other regarding the Raiders’ potential.

When J.T. was finished, Sapp arched an eyebrow and said, “Was that a question?” Then walked away.

— Spotted in the stands, walking on the bottom walkway of the second deck _ a fan wearing a white, long-sleeved Randy Moss jersey. It was modifed with a red circle and a cross through the No. 18.

— JaMarcus Russell turned 22 Thursday but doesn’t appear any closer to a contract.

— The Raiders will hold another walkthrough for Saturday night’s game against Arizona Friday at their practice facility in Alameda. It is closed to the media.

— Kiffin talked to the crowd before introducing several players, who gave words of encouragement to fans in attendence. Then Kiffin said, “We’ve got to get back to the meetings, but it’s the bottom of the ninth and here comes the closer.”

Rob Ryan stepped to the microphone to pump up the crowd, but was mostly drowned out by chants of “defense, defense.”

— During a highily entertaining interview with Ryan following Friday night’s practice, the defensive coordinator opened by saying, “Heck, yeah, we’re ready. We’re playing the Cardinals, you know, long history there. Fired the whole family. So we’ll be ready to go.”

Ryan and his brother Rex were on Buddy Ryan’s staff when Arizona fired him as head coach following a 4-12 season in 1995, also putting the twin sons out of work.

A few more snippets from Ryan, a mass of unfiltered confident bluster whom the Raiders really ought to turn loose more often:

— On the signing of Terdell Sands: “Sands is the premiere run-stopper in this league, and I’ve coached several of them. This guy, he’s the real deal.”

— On the possibility that the newly svelte Warren Sapp is too light: “Warren knows Warren. I can’t wait to see him. It’s a pleasure to see him out there, and also see him, like when he was back in Tampa Bay days when he was raisin’ hell. It’s gonna be fun, ’cause the rest of the league’s in trouble.”

— On the signing of Donovin Darius: “First of all with Donovin Darius you’re talking about a guy that’s got an aura about him. He’s a man, he walks on that football field, he demands respect. When he’s on that field, people are scared to death of him. And so we like that intimidation factor.”

— On possibility that Kirk Morrison could become a Pro Bowl player: “He’s smart and tough, he’s durable and he’s got all those great plusses that he does. And I expect he’ll be in the Pro Bowl. If we win on defense and win as a team, like we’re gonna do, he’ll be in the Pro Bowl.”

— On how much he communicates with Kiffin with regard to defensive matters: “Lane’s in charge of this team, and we communicate all the time, going in we bounce ideas off each other. But he’s head coach, and he’s established an unbelievable tempo out here and it’s got nothing but respect from our defense. We look forward to winning a championship for him and obviously Mr. Davis.”

On cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Fabian Washington:“I mean, the league ought to be studying those two. I see those two as the best two corners in football.”


Training camp, Day 11 (P.M.)


A Raiders media relations official announced Monday’s second session was canceled by coach Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin said after the morning session that the evening session would be in pads. The Raiders have worked twice in soft pads since Saturday’s intra-squad scrimmage.

The Raiders also announced that linebacker Isiah Kacyvenski, signed as a free agent before training camp, was placed on injured reserve because of a knee injury.


The bar is set


With Calvin Johnson having agreed to a six-year contract with a $27.1 million in guaranteed money with the Detroit Lions, the Raiders and JaMarcus Russell can get serious about coming to agreement on a contract.

Raiders owner Al Davis refuted the idea that the Raiders were low-balling Russell, saying Russell’s absence had to do with issues of forfeiture should the quarterback flame out for reasons outside of football.

Others familiar with the negotiations claim the Raiders have yet to make a legitimate fair market offer for the top pick in the draft, particularly one that plays quarterback.

Negotiations being what they are, with each side speaking in such a way to better their position, the truth probably lies somewhere in between.

With Johnson’s deal done, excuses have run out.

More from camp later . . .


Training camp, Day 6 (P.M.)


Sights and sounds, news and notes from Wednesday night’s training camp practice as relayed by Medianews Raiders beat writer Steve Corkran:

— LaMont Jordan, coming off a solid morning practice, sat out the evening session.

— Outside linebacker Thomas Howard missed the evening practice with an undisclosed ailment.

— Running back ReShard Lee was waived after he and the Raiders reached an injury settlement. Lee sustained a knee injury Tuesday.

— Tight end Tony Stewart switched to the No. 86 worn by tight end Randal Williams, an indication that Williams, who left the team Sunday, will not be back.

— Tackle Adrian Klemm, in camp on a tryout basis during the morning session, was signed to a contract. Klemm, 30 missed last season with an Achilles injury. He has appeared in 42 games since being drafted by New England in 2000.

— Chris Carr, Doug Gabriel and Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chris Johnson returned kickoffs in the first such drill in camp.

— The defense beat the offense in the linebackers vs. running backs blocking drill.

Highlights included Dominic Rhodes standing up Kirk Morrison and knocking him back before Morrison threw Rhodes to the ground. At that point, coach Lane Kiffin yelled, “Same two again.”

The ensuing matchup was a draw. However, after the series was tied at 6, Kiffin asked Rathman to throw out his best blocker and Martindale to produce his best linebacker.

Morrison triumphed in Rhodes vs. Morrison III to give the linebackers a 7-6 victory.

— Offensive coordinator Greg Knapp played quarterback in a one-on-one drill. Knapp completed several in a row, which prompted Martindale to yell, “There’s a reason he’s in coaching. Here comes the pick.”

Knapp promptly connected on an over-the-top pass to Rhodes for an 85-yard touchdown, with Rhodes beating linebacker Isaiah Kacyvenski.

— Alvis Whitted caught a deep pass from Andrew Walter, despite tight coverage from Stuart Schweigert.

— Josh McCown threw a lead block on cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha on a run play in which Rhodes reversed his field and headed around the left end.

— Daunte Culpepper connected with Will Buchanon for a 47-yard touchdown on a well-thrown pass down the left sideline. Buchanon hauled in the long pass as defensive back Lavonne Rowan looked on.

Earlier, Culpepper delivered a 20-yard strike to Jerry Porter on a pass over the middle that drew oohs and aahs from teammates, with the force of the ball hitting Porter’s pads audible from the sideline.