Tundra talk


Lane Kiffin compared going to Lambeau Field with his decision to kick to Chicago return specialist Devin Hester.

Of course, it was clear and cool when the Raiders played the Chicago Bears.

The forecast in Green Bay calls for temperatures in the 20s with snow flurries.

The Raiders don’t seem too concerned, and it isn’t because they beat the Denver Broncos in 2004 on a snowy November night with Kerry Collins passing for three touchdowns to Jerry Porter and one to Ronald Curry.

This edition of the Raiders is more Iditarod than greyhound, a group of mushers who will tenaciously negotiate the frozen tundra five yards at a time.

“You talk about it too long and you start to believe you’re at a disadvantage,” Kiffin said. “I don’t believe we’re at a disadvantage and I would really like to see cold weather.”

That’s what he says, of course, when the weather report, as well as the calendar, makes it a sure thing. Kiffin would be fine with 55 and clear.

But it is also true the Raiders, a California team with a number of players who haven’t played in this kind of weather, are, as Kiffin likes to say, “a system fit.”

“I think we’re built for it. (We’re a) team that runs the ball, a team that can put a bunch of guys in the box because we have really good corners,” Kiffin said. “We’re not a big, spread-out team, we’re an in-tight, running, play-action team. If you’re going to build a team in cold weather, that’s what you want to do in my opinion.”

So let it snow.

“We’re a running team anyway,” running back Justin Fargas said. “We expect to run the ball and I expect to run the ball. Knowing it could be a (bad) weather game, we’ll commit to the run a little more. It’s all the better.”

Left guard Robert Gallery agreed.

“The games we’ve been successful we run the ball, take shots when we have to,” Gallery said. “You’re forced to do that in a cold weather game sometimes. I don’t think it will change us that much.”

Kiffin joked that the advice he disregarded came from his father Monte, defensive coordinator of the formerly warm-blooded Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I talked to him this week and he had a lot of answers,” Kiffin said. “Then I remembered, wait, you went 0-17 in your first 17 games that were under 40 degrees. So he’s got ideas, but I don’t know that they’re very good ones.”

Kiffin said Monte Kiffin advised that he should make sure to watch Warren Sapp prepare.

“He said he puts on about 10 layers of clothes and that it’s a sight to see,” Kiffin said.

More news, notes and observations from Wednesday’s practice:

— Daunte Culpepper was the lone injured Raider who didn’t practice because of injury. Kiffin wouldn’t be pinned down as to his quarterback depth chart and wasn’t ruling Culpepper out.

Culpepper said he was being safe with the right quadriceps injury and hasn’t ruled himself out either. Meanwhile Josh McCown got the bulk of the work with the first team.

— Culpepper said ESPN, Fox and Yahoosports.com reports that he received his injury last Wednesday in a match race with Stanford Routt (he reportedly got a head start against the former college sprinter) were off base.

`I run every day after practice, and I probably shouldn’t have been running that day,’’ Culpepper said. “I felt the pain but I’m the type of guy who wants to run through it. As far as getting injured that day, no, I was injured before that.’’

So you weren’t injured in a race with Routt?

“That’s correct,” Culpepper said, and late remarked good-naturedly, “There’s a lot of misinformation out there.”

— Four veterans were held out of practice not because of injury, but because of a coaches decision: T Barry Sims, C Jeremy Newberry, WR Jerry Porter and Sapp.

“I just believe there is a time with certain veterans which are banged up and playing a lotof snaps that you give them a day off for the last four weeks,” Kiffin said.

— JaMarcus Russell said he has never played a game in severe weather either in high school or at LSU.

If Culpepper is inactive, don’t rule out the possibility of Andrew Walter backing up McCown. Walter stayed after practice and was throwing extra passes Wednesday, something he has rarely done in recent weeks since being buried at No. 4 on the depth chart.

— The Raiders can rid themselves of another streak with a win in Green Bay. They’ve lost 10 consecutive road games in December, with their last win since Dec. 8, 2002, a 27-7 win over the San Diego Chargers.

If memory serves, it wasn’t snowing.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer