Final: Titans 13, Raiders 9



Tennessee–Rob Bironas 23-yard fieled goal, 11:22

— Vince Young was being worked on following a shaky series to open the fourth quarter. Considering they way Young has thrown the ball and the way Oakland has kept him in the pocket, getting Kerry Collins might not be any bargain.

— A hold on Robert Gallery gave Oakland a second-and-20 and was tehir 12th penalty for 105 yards.

— It had to happen eventually. Culpepper’s third fumble, on a third-and-14 play from the Oakland 14, resulted in a fumble which Tennessee’s Travis LaBoy recovered. The Titans took over at the Oakland 9-yard line.

— On third-and-goal from the 5, Quinton Ganther dropped a sure touchdown in the right flat, and then the Roydell Williams couldn’t handle a pass in the end zone from Young, with the Titans settling for a 23-yard field goal from Bironas and a 13-9 lead.

— Culpepper dropped a center snap for his fourth fumble, with Jordan picking it up for a 4-yard gain _ one of his best gains of the game. The Raiders went three-and-out with Culpepper short-hopping Mike Williams on third-and-8.

— At least they can punt.

Lechler hit a 70-yard punt that travelled at least 80 yards in the air into the Tennessee end zone.

— The Raiders forced a Titans punt with less than six minutes to play, and got their 13th penalty on an illegal block in the back after a return to the 30 by Johnnie Lee Higgins.

The Raiders opened at the 13-yard line with 5:31 to play. Titans fans are trickling to the exits, apparently convinced the Raiders cannot score.

— On one of the few times Culpepper looked deep downfield, the Titans came up with an interception at their own 9-yard line as the pass was short of Jerry Porter. It came on a first-and-10 play from the Oakland 48 after Fargas had run three yards for a first down on third-and-3.

— The Raiders forced a three-and-out with 2:20 to play and have used all their time outs.

Higgins, more of a breakaway threat than Chris Carr, is again the deep safety.

— Higgins called for a fair catch at the 47-yard line, giving Oakland 2:12 and 53 yards to go to win the game.

— Culpepper connected with Curry for a 27-yard strike to the Tennessee 26-yard-line at the 2-minute warning.

— With first-and-10 at the 26-yard-line, Sims was called for his fourth false start, pushing it back to the 31 and first-and-15.

The Raiders worked their way to the 30 on fourth-and-14, with Mike Williams dropping a Culpepper pass near the first down stake.

— Tennessee took over with 1:17 to play and will kill the clock and win the game.


The Thursday file


News, notes and observations from Thursday:

— Another day of practice with the scout team for Josh McCown had Lane Kiffin optimistic about his availability. So got a quarteback for us, coach?

“It’s a lot of decisions,” Kiffin said seriously. “It’s whether he starts, whether he’s active. We’ll have to go in and sit down and watch the film again and talk with Josh also.”

It’s also a lot of, well, nonsense. Daunte Culpepper is starting against Tennessee and everyone in the locker room knows it.

— Defensive tackle Gerard Warren sat out again with a quadriceps injury. If he plays against Tennessee, it will be a major upset.

— Chris Carr and Sam Williams were limited in practice again. Not a big deal where Williams is concerned, with Robert Thomas available to start his third straight game at strongside linebacker.

If Carr can’t play, it likely will be Dominic Rhodes on kickoff returns and Johnnie Lee Higgins on punt returns.

— With McCown getting closer to being available as a backup and the Raiders getting JaMarcus Russell as much work as possible, it could mean the Andrew Walter is nearing the end of the road.

— Kiffin said he anticipated Jerry Porter’s receiving numbers will increase as time goes on. Porter has just 11 catches but is averaging 21 yards per catch. Maybe the mere site of Kerry Collins on the same field will serve as a jump-start.

In Porter’s last two games against Tennessee, with Collins as the quarterback, he caught 14 passes for 271 yards and five touchdowns.

— The Raiders will be looking for a Collins-type quarterback at some point in the future to serve as mentor to Russell when he eventually takes over. Hopefully one with some game left, like Collins, as opposed to a past-his-prime Trent Dilfer.

Tennessee quarterback Vince Young told Bay Area media Wednesday Collins has been a valuable resource about things both on and off the field.

“We’re like best friends. We talk about everything,” Young said. “Anything I have questions about, on the field, off the field, he’s pretty much been in the same situations so he’s been helping me out a whole lot. What people don’t know about Kerry, he’s silly, he’s fun, he knows his position with the Tennessee Titans and everyone respects him for it.”

All four Raiders quarterbacks seem to get along well. I’ve been in 49ers locker rooms where you could feel the tension between Joe Montana and Steve Young, and with Young and Jeff Garcia. It’s nothing like that with Culpepper, McCown, Russell and Walter.

Both Culpepper and McCown are scheduled to be free agents after the year. McCown would likely be more inclined to stick around as a backup than Culpepper.

— Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer reported the Raiders could be considering dumping Dominic Rhodes. Glazer, the guy who got his hands on the New England videotapes as well as tape of the casino brawl between Levi Jones and Joey Porter, has broken more than his share of stories.

The timing seems strange on this one, however. Rhodes was already paid a $1.5 million signing bonus and is earning just over $765,000 in salary (that includes losing four weeks pay because of a substance abuse suspension), so it’s not a cap move. Just outright cutting Rhodes seems unlikely after they went to the trouble of signing him even though they knew he would likely be suspended when they signed him.

With LaMont Jordan hoping to nurse a bad back through the season, the Raiders need another experienced back to go with Fargas just in case.

— Saw Michael Bush walking off the practice field carrying shoulder pads and thought he might have been activiated from the Physically Unable to Perform list. False alarm. He was carrying Jordan’s equipment for him.

Bush is in the second week of a three-week window which he can practice with the club. Once that window closes and he does not practice, Bush cannot play this season.

— Jordan said Thursday his back “felt better than it has all year” and sees the Tennessee game as an opportunity to prove the Raiders running game as it was through four games is more reality than illusion.

The Raiders led the NFL in rushing at 194.2 yards per game after four games, and have since dropped to fifth at 145.8 yards per game behind Minnesota (163.7), Pittsburgh (159.0) and Jacksonville (148.5).

“When we were first, people questioned how good our running game was because they say we didn’t run against anybody, so this is a great opportunity for us to show what we can do,” Jordan said.

The Titans are giving up an NFL-low 59.7 yards per game on the ground. Part of that low figure is because opponents are running the ball 17.3 times per game. Part of it, Kiffin thinks, is because the Titans are that good.

“I think some teams have given up because of lack of success,” Kiffin said. “They’re not doing well running it so they’ve gone to the pass. Or like last week, the game was so lopsided Houston didn’t have much of a choice. I don’t think that’s because they look at it and say well, they’re not good at pass defense so we’re going to throw it a bunch. I think it’s probably people are looking at it and getting discouraged about running the ball because the front seven is so strong and physical.”

— RB Justin Fargas and practice squad DT Josh Shaw were involved in a prolonged scuffle before team sessions got underway which was broken up by teammates.


It’s all Raiders, all the time


In this corner of the world, everything revolves around the Raiders even when they take Sunday off:

— The Bay Area can still lay claim to the worst offense in the NFL.

The 49ers have now played four games in which they failed to gain 200 yards of total offense. Four out of five.

The Raiders, who set franchise standards for being abysmal last season, had four sub-200-yard games out of 16.

Even with the pathetic yardage totals, the 49ers are on pace to double the Raiders’ staggeringly low offensive touchdown total of 12 a year ago.

— A pessimist would say the Raiders NFL-leading rushing average has come at the expense of teams which are ranked among the bottom of the NFL in rushing defense.

An optimist would say the Raiders helped put them there.

— Detroit, which moved against the Raiders at will, gained 144 yards and lost to Washington by 31 points. The Broncos lost by 38 at home, their biggest loss in Denver since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Cleveland was the latest pelt on the wall for the Patriots, who have beat every opponent by 17 or more points. Miami is one of only three winless teams in the league.

You could argue that Oakland’s 2-2 record looks a lot less impressive in that light, although you could screw yourself into the ground trying to make sense of the NFL on a week to week basis.

— At least Randy Moss didn’t score a touchdown. Moss’ stats Sunday three catches, 46 yards, no touchdowns, were Raider-like.

— Here is a patently unfair second-guess, three-weeks removed. Given the success of Oakland’s running attack over its last three games, you wonder if Lane Kiffin regrets not running a little more against the Detroit in Week 1, although the Lions’ fast start admittedly played into it.

— The Raiders have already snapped an 11-game losing streak and a 14-game road losing streak in four weeks. Now it gets personal. Within the AFC West, Oakland has lost its last 11 on the road, its last 12 at home and its last 15 overall.

Next up? A road game in San Diego, Oct. 14, and a home game against Kansas City on Oct. 21.

— In case you were wondering, the Raiders last won an AFC West road game on Nov. 28, 2004 in Denver, beating the Broncos 25-24. They last beat a divisional opponent at home on Sept. 28, 2003, beating the Chargers 34-31 in overtime.

— Why didn’t everyone see this coming? To get the Chargers properly prepared to beat the Raiders, all Norv Turner had to do was get Michael Turner loose against Denver.

Another subpar week from LaDainian Tomlinson, however _ 21 carries for 67 yards. The Raider-killer will face the Raiders in an unparalleled slump. (Rushing the ball, anyway, Tomlinson got loose for three receptions for 76 yards).

Hard to imagine the Chargers scoring 41 points and LT going scoreless.

— The Chiefs, who tried to hand Brodie Croyle the starting quarterback job in preseason, were forced into it when Damon Huard went down with a shoulder contusion. Croyle led the Chiefs to their only scoring drive while getting pushed around in Arrowhead Stadium, falling to Jacksonville 17-7.

Think Larry Johnson is thinking he should have forced a trade during his holdout? He had 12 yards on nine carries.

— As shaky as Oakland’s rushing defense has been through three weeks, if they don’t do something against Tomlinson and Johnson over the next two weeks, it’s probably not going to happen.

— One of the NFL’s best road teams, Denver won its only game against the Raiders because of Mike Shanahan’s fortuitous time out. Since then, the Broncos have been beaten decisively by Jacksonville and San Diego.

— When he decided to give Jon Gruden his way and make Rich Gannon his quarterback instead of Jeff George, Al Davis said, “Jeff just wasn’t Jon’s cup of tea.”

The same could be said regarding Miami coach Cam Cameron and Daunte Culpepper. But considering Trent Green was KO’d against the Texans today and the NFL’s concern regarding concussions, Cameron’s tea preference could have the Dolphins in contention for the first pick of the NFL Draft.

Wonder if Cameron prefers the Colt Brennan or Jeff (make that Brian) Brohm brand.

— As predictable as Al Davis’ choice of wardrobe colors: Raiders fans identifying the absence of Kiffin as the reason for USC’s 24-23 loss to Stanford.


Rhodes back, Bush waits his turn


Dominic Rhodes and Michael Bush are next door neighbors near a corner of the Raiders locker room.

The two also spent the first month of the season apart from their teammates once practice began, working out separately with members of the Raiders training staff whose job it is to get them ready to play.

In Rhodes case, it wasn’t to get him ready but to keep him ready. He missed the first four games of the season serving a suspension for violating the NFL policy on substance abuse related to a DUI last Feb. 20.

Bush’s case is different. He suffered a badly broken leg last Sept. 3, underwent two surgeries and has been rehabbing ever since.

So they spent the first month spending a lot of time talking about playing when they wished they were actually playing.

“He’s been running with me for the last month,” Bush said. “Today he said, `See y’all later. I can’t do it today.’ I told him before too long I’ll be out there with you.”

Rhodes was delighted to rejoin his teammates at practice Wednesday, while Bush remained on the outside looking in.

The Raiders have remained fairly guarded about Bush’s status until coach Lane Kiffin Monday spoke about how close the fourth-round pick looked to being ready to go in terms of conditioning.

There was talk at the close of training camp Bush would be placed on injured reserve, rather than the Physically Unable to Perform list. Starting Oct. 15, a three-week window begins where Bush will be either activated or put on I.R.

It seems at this point activating Bush is the more likely scenario, particularly with LaMont Jordan slowed with a back injury. Jordan did not practice Wednesday and was working with a member of the training staff, attempting to step over hurdles.

He looked much better than when last seen Sunday following the Dolphins game, but backs are tricky. It could be a maintenance issue with the Raiders going to more of a committee approach including Jordan, Rhodes and Fargas.

Bush at this point remains an intriguing wild card.

He hasn’t taken a handoff or caught a pass in a team situation since Sept. 3, 2006, the day he broke his leg in the season opener at Louisville.

There is no way to know until he gets on the field whether Bush will be of any help in the near future. Bush said he has kept his weight at around 240 pounds for the past month.

“It’s been a year and a month so it’s been awhile,” Bush said. “This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this. But I think a player is going to adapt. Once I get out there, get hit a couple of times, have some fun, get the feel of the game, I don’t feel it will be too long.”

News and notes:

— DE Derrick Burgess took the field with his defensive line teammates during warmups and drills, but it is not known how much work he got in during practice. Kiffin will not be made available to the media this week.

— QB Josh McCown continues to wear a boot on his left foot and was walking toward the practice field to watch as practice started.

— LB Isaiah Ekejiuba was on the field, but working out with injured players, running on his injured foot. Joining Ekejiuba was FB Oren O’Neal (hamstring) as well as injured reserve players Fred Wakefield and Jonathan Holland.

— Kiffin gathered the team before drills to announce that Daunte Culpepper had been named the AFC player of the week after rushing for three touchdowns and passing for two against the Miami Dolphins.

— Rhodes’ return is the subject of a story published in Thursday’s editions of the Oakland Tribune and Contra Costa Times.

— Comings and goings: The Raiders did not make a move as yet to replace Dave Tollefson, who signed with the New York Giants. Former Raider Alvis Whitted was one of five Raiders who worked out for the club Tuesday, the others being Brandon Williams, Courtney Roby, Bryan Gilmore and Rod Gardner. Gilmore re-signed with the 49ers. Neither Whitted nor Gardner, a former first-round draft pick, would be eligible for the practice squad. Former Raiders who had workouts of late included C Adam Treu (Giants), Travis Taylor (Dolphins) Zack Crockett (Bucs) and Pete McMahon (Seahawks).


Quarter-term grades


Grading the Raiders four games into a 16-game season:

RUSHING OFFENSE: A — The No. 21, 22, 23 and 24 rushers in the NFL are Larry Johnson of the Chiefs (263 yards), LaDainian Tomlinson of the Chargers (262 yards), Justin Fargas of the Raiders (261 yards) and Frank Gore of the 49ers (254 yards).

Three of the NFL’s top rushers from a year ago and the Raiders backup to LaMont Jordan.

Lane Kiffin is correct in that the Raiders haven’t faced the truly stout rushing defenses as yet. Miami in particular was a sieve. But Kiffin seems truly committed to running the ball where it seemed Norv Turner and Art Shell paid it only lip service.

There’s not much more to be said regarding the Raiders offensive line that hasn’t already been said. If there’s been a bigger turnabout with any position group anywhere in recent years, I haven’t heard about it.

At best, Jordan aggravated a back injury which could nag him the remainder of the season. At worst, he could be out for a long while. The good thing is Dominic Rhodes begins practicing Wednesday after a four-week suspension and the window for activating Michael Bush begins Oct. 15.

If Jordan is hurt, Rhodes should help immediately. Even if Bush is activated, it may take him awhile to be a contributor, considering how long it has been since he’s been in team sessions.

PASSING OFFENSE: C-plus–Daunte Culppepper has hit some big throws when he needed them, although his stats aren’t much to look at because of Oakland’s emphasis on the run. He has passed only 25 times (completing 12 for 188 yards) in 14 possessions as opposed to 74 running plays. Josh McCown did some good things and some bad things in the opener and was awful in Week 2, where Kiffin termed the passing game “embarrassing”.

This doesn’t have the look of a big-play passing offense, but it’s worth noting that Jerry Porter has only seven receptions but is averaging 20.6 yards per catch with three touchdowns. Tight end Zach Miller hasn’t been the factor many expected coming out of training camp.

The running backs are viable passing targets, although throws to the backs have dropped off since Week 1.

Overall, this is an area that will be tested more seriously once opponents take a look at their run-pass ratio and dare them to throw.

RUSH DEFENSE: D-plus — The Raiders are giving up 5.3 yards per carry, the second-worst figure in the NFL, and are ranked 24th overall in rushing defense at 129.5 yards per game. They gave up big numbers to Denver’s Travis Henry (26 carries, 128 yards) and Ronnie Brown (15 for 134).

Terdell Sands, given a $4 million signing bonus to bypass free agency, lost his starting job to Gerard Warren and hasn’t been the anchor the Raiders expected. Safeties Stuart Schweigert and Michael Huff aren’t lower-the-boom hitters. They’re too often making stops yards after opposing runners have put yards in the bank.

Hard to argue with linebackers Kirk Morrison and Thomas Howard in any part of of their game. Strong-side backer Sam Williams is prone to the occasional whiffed tackle in space.

They’ve given up way too much ground, but it’s worth noting the run defense wasn’t the primary culprit in either loss.

It needs to be much better, however.

PASS DEFENSE: C — Thanks to three interceptions each by Morrison and Howard, the Raiders are holding opposing passers to a 74.7 rating, the sixth best figure in the NFL. it’s deceiving, however. Teams have largely avoided cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and chased Fabian Washington to a new job of nickel back.

Stanford Routt, Washington’s replacement, has a pair of gift interceptions in Week 1 and 4. The Raiders have surrendered 48 passing first downs _ only nine teams have given up more.

Huff and Schweigert have played 20 games together as starters and neither has an interception during that time. Kiffin has worked in B.J. Ward and Hiram Eugene of late, but neither of them appears to be the answer.

Oakland has just seven sacks, 21st in the NFL, and Gerard Warren has three of them. Derrick Burgess, out for for the last two games with a calf injury, doesn’t have a sack, and neither does Warren Sapp.

Up until the final two drives, Oakland did make Cleveland’s Derek Anderson uncomfortable, and also hurried Miami’s Trent Green.

On the plus side, the Raiders have never had two cover linebackers at the same time as good as Morrison and Howard. Howard scored a touchdown and set up one, while Morrison had a theft against Cleveland that set up a score.

SPECIAL TEAMS: D — Punter Shane Lechler, after a subpar 2006 season in which he had 19 punts inside the 20-yard line and 19 touchbacks _ by far the worst ratio of his career — has six punts inside the 20 and just one touchback this season.

Sebastian Janikowski has 12 touchbacks, four more than he had all of last season, when the Raiders seldom scored so they seldom kicked off. His career high is 22.

That, and a blocked field goal attempt by Tommy Kelly against Cleveland, is about the extent of the good news.

Janikowski is 5-for-9 in field goal attempts, and although he’s 0-for-3 from 50 and beyond and got Shanahaned in Denver, he’s paid to make long ones. Opponents are averaging 12 yards per punt return.

Rookie Johnnie Lee Higgins is averaging 2.3 yards on seven punt returns, kickoff return specialist Chris Carr 21.1 on 18 kickoff returns. Opponents are averaging an eye-popping 31.1 on kickoff returns.

Kiffin openly questioned desire and effort in Denver, as did Carr, who in a rare admission said the Broncos simply wanted it more.

Huge improvement is needed in this area if the Raiders hope to swing some close games in their favor.

COACHING: B — The handling of the Culpepper-McCown quarterback thing is just plain weird, and you could make a strong case that using an injured McCown over a healthy Culpepper in Week 2 cost the Raiders a win in Denver.

Overall, however, although Kiffin is publicly recoiling from a 2-2 record, he must know on some level how much better the Raiders are since he took over.

If he doesn’t, it really doesn’t matter.

Kiffin’s best moves haven’t even been on game day. He helped repair the locker room by getting Randy Moss out of town. This was a positive move even if Moss catches 100 passes for 2,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in New England, sending a message that Kiffin is intolerant of indifference. He’s established an offensive identity for the first time since 2002.

Offensive line coach Tom Cable has done the best job of any position coach in the NFL. No way anyone else is close.

Defensively, Rob Ryan’s defense hasn’t clicked as well as he or anyone else had hoped through four games. There are mistakes and assignment errors against both the run and the pass, and the substitution patterns, particularly along the defensive front, seem strange.

Arm-chair defensive coordinators are having a field day with Ryan’s strategy, although it’s dangerous territory for anyone who puts in a few hours a week watching and reading about football to match wits with someone who has been doing it his entire adult life.

The real issue is that Ryan’s defense hasn’t played with the sort of cohesiveness anyone would have expected from a team that returned all its starters. The problem isn’t the defenses Ryan is calling as much as it is getting his players to execute the defenses he is calling.

As much as the players detested Ted Daisher and like replacement Brian Schneider, special teams are not any better as yet under Schneider’s watch.

OVERALL: C — A .500 record is average no matter how you look at it, although the Raiders get stars a the bottom of their report card which note they have made great strides after four years wallowing at the bottom of the class curve.

Your own grades, of course are welcomed and encouraged . . .


Back to the drawing board


Progress only exists if you buy into the notion of a qualifying standard.

With the Raiders already having won as many games as they did all last season, the outside world has noticed that they hit the quarter turn of the 2007 season tied for first place in the suddenly vulnerable AFC West.

But rather than get an early start on putting together a plan to deliver another body blow to the San Diego Chargers, Lane Kiffin said he will spend the time trying to repair what went wrong in the two games the Raiders didn’t win.

“I’m not pleased with where we’re at,” Kiffin said Monday at his weekly press briefing. “If we would play the way we know how to play and we would understand what I think we’re starting to learn about how to finish games, we’d be 4-0 right now.

“We’ve taken a lead in every single game with less than nine minutes to go in the game. If you take a lead with nine minutes to go, you whould be winning the game. That falls on all of us.”

Later, Kiffin said of the .500 record, “We have to figure out what went wrong in these four weeks, why we’re 2-2.”

Kiffin is either posturing to convey a message, or he’s a hard guy to please.

More news, notes and observations as the Raiders begin their bye week:

— The Daily Daunte finds Culpepper getting plenty of praise from the coach, but no public assurances he’ll start against the Chargers.

“I don’t know that,” Kiffin said when asked if he was prepared to name Culpepper the No. 1 quarterback. “If we played tomorrow, he’d start.”

Based on his performance against Miami, why not name him the starter going into the San Diego game right now?

“Because I’m not going into the San Diego game yet, that’s the only reason,” Kiffin said. “If it was then I’d mke that decision. But I don’t need to make it.”

So there.

— Josh McCown remains in a protective boot.

“If we were going to practice today, he wouldn’t be able to practice,” Kiffin said.

— Kiffin said x-rays on LaMont Jordan’s back were negative, but that he is undergoing more tests. Jordan looked to be in considerable pain following the game. Dominic Rhodes can practice this week, but he is exempt from taking up a spot on the 53-man roster until next week, giving the Raiders time to evaluate the seriousness of Jordan’s condition before deciding who is to be trimmed from the roster.

— Following the conclusion of the sixth regular season weekend through the conclusion of the ninth weekend, the Raiders have a window which they must decide whether to activate running back Michael Bush from the Physically Unable to Perform list or put him on injured reserve.

When asked if he expects to see Bush active, Kiffin said, “He could be. He looks great out there. He’s the lowest he’s been at his weight for over a year. He looks great and he’s been buying into our program. He’s been great in the weight room with our staff. He looks really good.”

It should be noted that Bush has not participated in individual or team drills with his teammmates at any time since he was drafted, so rust will be a factor.

— Tight end Zach Miller was no factor in Oakland’s limited passing game, but Kiffin sounded more than pleased with his blocking.

“Zach had a great day,” Kiffin said. “We were joking that Zach was in college seven months ago and how he’s blocking (Joey) Porter and (Jason) Taylor, two Pro Bowl players. I thought Zach did a great job of stepping up and he’s exactly what we hoped we were getting when we got him.”

— Sitting Derrick Burgess for the Miami game was the common-sense move.

“I suppose if maybe it was the Super Bowl or something he could have played,” Kiffin said. “But in the long run of the season it wasn’t worth it.”

— Safeties Michael Huff and Stuart Schweigert do not have an interception, forced fumble or fumble recovery between them. Kiffin sounded as if he is more worried about the latter than the former.

“In the pass game there hasn’t been a lot of opportunities,” Kiffin said. “You’re not seeing dropped pass interceptions where you say, `oh, they’re not productive’ because of that. We don’t have a fumble recovery yet on defense. We’re not getting it out enough, getting after it enough.”

Both B.J. Ward and Hiram Eugene have gotten the occasional snap in place of Schweigert but neither has stepped forward in the limited time. Ward was run over at the goal line by Miami’s Ronnie Brown Sunday.

Kiffin sounds as if he’ll continue to work Eugene and Ward in.

“If they sit on the bench, you’ll never know what we’ve got,” Kiffin said.

Regarding Ward’s training camp and preseason ability to hit, Kiffin said, `He did it a little bit in preseason, now it’s regular season.”

— Kiffin acknowledged getting steamed at wide receiver Michael Williams for his premature celebration when he thought Justin Fargas was on his way to a touchdown on a 48-yard run.

“I think Mike’s used to playing with Reggie (Bush). He can celebrate on those with Reggie,” Kiffin said. “Mike thought Justin had an angle and Justin was going to score . . . that’s an effort thing. I guess you caught me being upset at that piont. There’s not many things that get me really upset during a game, but that’s the No. 1 thing — effort.”

— If you think you’re a victim, you become a victim. That’s essentially the way Kiffin is looking at adversity, as evidenced by a questionable offensive pass interference call against Williams in the end zone, negating the touchdown.

Maybe it was the Dolphins overall poor defense, or maybe that outlook is paying off. The Raiders recovered from the bad call and scored anyway.

“You want to sit and complain because it wasn’t pass interference on Mike and get on the refs, or do you want to think about what we can do next?,” Kiffin said.

It’s the common sense approach for dealing with a bad call. Be good enough to overcome it.

Either that or do what the Raiders have done in recent years, complain about it in the loser’s locker room.

— The Raiders lead the NFL in rushing with 194.3 yards per game. Of their 49 carries against Miami, there was a 1-yard loss by Justin Fargas, a no gain by Jordan and 47 rushes that gained positive yards.

Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, the Raiders have had more than 299 yards just three times _ 307 yards against Buffalo in 1977, 348 yards against Green Bay in 1978 and a team-record 356 yards against Seattle in 1987.

— If he had his druthers, Kiffin would like a bye a little later in the season. But he sees where the timing this week could be of some benefit.

Besides Jordan’s injury, the Raiders can get Burgess, fullback Oren O’Neal and linebackers Isaiah Ekejiuba and Robert Thomas healthy, not to mention getting Rhodes up to speed and continuing to work with JaMarcus Russell.

“There’s a bunch of things to take advantage of at this time,” Kiffin said.