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Can Mario be super?

First in a series of concerns regarding the makeup of the 2008 Raiders with the reporting date approaching on July 25 at the Napa Marriott:

There is a lot of speculation regarding the Raiders’ potential problems at tackle, with most of it centering on the left side and free acquisition Kwame Harris.

I am more concerned about the right side, where it appears Cornell Green was in the process of holding off second-year man Mario Henderson during the mandatory minicamp and OTAs.

Harris, the way I understand it, was personally approved by line coach Tom Cable, who deserves the benefit of the doubt considering what he did with the Raiders line last season. The Raiders think they can take some of the pressure off Harris with quick timing passes and blocking help from fullbacks or backs in motion, and think Harris can be a real asset on the second level in the running game.

This isn’t a knock at Green, who is coming off knee surgery and beginning his 10th season. He is your classic veteran backup, a good locker room guy who can fill in in a pinch without a significant dropoff.

In other words, the perfect guy to have around to help out a first-time starter.

In theory, that would be Henderson, whom the Raiders traded up to get in the third round in the 2007 draft. Henderson was so raw he suited up only once even though Green was gone after 10 games with a knee injury.

Instead of seeing Henderson take a quantum leap after his year of learning, there have been more red flags than in the parking lot at Arrowhead Stadium.

It was more than simply the sight of Derrick Burgess racing around Henderson during the mandatory camp, and other linemen doing the same. Burgess can make a lot of linemen look silly, especially when they’re prohibited from firing off putting them on the ground. Nor was it the fact that other linemen were also getting past him.

It also wasn’t all that big a deal to see Cable get into Henderson pretty good on occasion, because that’s what Cable does.

It was coach Lane Kiffin’s assessment of Henderson’s issues which make you wonder if the 6-foot-7, 300-pounder is ready to seize the job and make his mark as an NFL player.

“Pads will be big for Mario. Mario’s got a lot of tools but he needs to become a physical player,” Kiffin said. “To play on this line, we want physical guys and so that’s where Mario is going to have to really grow.”

And then there was this:

“There was a lot of ability there when we picked him,” Kiffin said. “There were some questions about how physical he was, about his passion for the game, for the position, so we’re trying to improve that.”

So he’s an offensive tackle on a run-oriented team who is neither physical nor has a real passion for the game _ which only happen to be two of the most important attributes a lineman can have.

Perhaps Henderson isn’t physical because he is not yet sure of his footwork or responsibilities. He was a late-bloomer of sorts at Florida State and the same thing could be going on in the NFL.

The “passion” issue is more troubling. Kiffin talked of developing the trait, but is that even possible? You’re either passionate about something or you aren’t. If Henderson isn’t consumed by the desire to be a great player, it doesn’t seem likely to happen because his coach said it should. That doesn’t mean he can’t be a professional, a clock-puncher who works at his craft even if he doesn’t love it, but it certainly could prevent him from being an elite player.

The most striking example I can remember of passion being an issue with an emerging player was with tight end Rickey Dudley. In researching a lengthy profile on Dudley in 1998, I learned that all his basketball coaches absolutely loved him and his football coaches never knew what to make of him.

Dudley loved basketball. As a player at Ohio State, he was the team captain, most inspirational player and requested to defend the opposition’s best player so he could lock him up.

As a football player, Dudley liked the sport but never loved it the way he did basketball. It wasn’t his fault, really, because that sort of thing can’t be faked.

If Henderson has issues with passion now, it’s fair to speculate he may always have them.

Catching up

– So the police report says Javon Walker has a broken jaw as well as a fractured orbital bone. If that report is correct, and frankly I don’t know if the officers check with the hospital to verify medical facts, then Walker is either one fast healer or Kiffin was being overly optimistic in saying the injuries weren’t an iassue for training camp.

– Jason Cole’s Yahoo.com story which reported that Al Davis was second-guessing some of his offseason decisions drew a stern rebuke from Raiders spokesman Mike Taylor.

“You obviously don’t know Al Davis. Self-doubt is not part of teh equation with Al Davis. I’m not going to justify this tripe, this drivel by even asking (Davis) for a response,” Taylor said. “It’s ludicrous, it’s insane, it’s rumor-mongering and it’s irresponsible journalism.”

In one sense, Cole came off better in the Raiders eyes than Adam Schefter did when he reported (correctly, as it turned out) that Art Shell would be fired at the end of the 2006 season.

In that instance, the Raiders response was that Schefter was a “false rumor-monger.” Cole was simply involved in “rumor mongering.” Nobody said it was false.

Seriously, I have a hard time imagining Davis spilling all his doubts and fears regarding the offseason, not when the Raiders haven’t even reported to training camp.

If things don’t go well, the more likely scenario is silence, with someone else taking the fall.

– Warren Sapp told the St. Petersburg Times that his experience with the Raiders was “as dark as a black hole” and noted “stuff went on in that organization that shouldn’t go on in sports.”

What to make of it?

What did you expect? Sapp came from tremendous success at Tampa to a team with the worst record in the NFL during his tenure. Losing teams get bashed by departing players. All of them. Period.

Sapp is a more brash, profane version of Tim Brown _ a great storyteller and a remarkable quote, but someone who will fashion his answers for the best effect. When talking to NFL Films about the Bucs Super Bowl season, he said Jon Gruden took them the extra step and his hiring was necessary to get there.

Now he is saying Tony Dungy baked the cake, and all Gruden did was put on the icing. And you can make the argument that both answers are right.

Many thanks

A lot of people I talked to at my father’s memorial service Saturday who had read my blog regarding his death made mention of the string of heartfelt comments that followed the piece.

My family thanks you and I thank you.

I’d also like to thank Bay Area News Group-East Bay for making a “Toys for Tots’ contribution in my father’s name.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • http://none MR

    666 I think we have alot to talk about.

    Oakglenn’s dad is coming over and I think you might really like him. He is very gentle soul.

    Think about it.

  • http://www.consumptionjunctyion.com/ SilverNblack666

    Jerry is just a rumor monger, MVTA Raider. Don’t pay attention to him. The guy MaddenRaiderSlapper knows his stuff, and he says we’re going 15-1. That’s all you need to know.

  • http://www.consumptionjunctyion.com SilverNblack666

    It would take a pretty feeble minded and insecure person to be so intimidated by a simple number.

    The simple fact is that the name I like was taken so I simply added a number to it so I could still be SilverNblack.

    There are no religious reasons involved in the choice. But I like how mentally weak you are and you show it in your writing.

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    Because that’s what Al Davis drafts, because at this point in his life he unable to personally evaluate talent, so he drafts hype, 40 times.

  • http://www.consumptionjunctyion.com/ SilverNblack666

    MR, you can sit there and talk about gay stuff all you want. We don’t swing that way, around here. I’m way too strong to ever cave into that urge. So take it somewhere else.

  • http://. Coach on Wheels

    Is Al frustrated or questioning his signings of Walker and maybe others? Maybe. Would Al express this frustration to a reporter from Yahoo Sports? No.

    Guys like Adam S love to lump together opinions, predictions, rumors, facts, and speculation all together and let readers try to figure out what is what. The moves made this off-season are many and we’ll see what the results are on the field.

    It Appears

    Al said Keep Rob Ryan but change the D from a Cover 0 scheme. (per several players)
    Pay Kelley like he’s the best DT in the NFL
    Pay Javon Walker like he’s actually a top-notch WR.
    Trade (sort of) Sims for Harris
    Draft a RB and not a D Lineman
    Sign the top S FA and get a top CB but get nothing better than a C+ level player for the pourus front 7.

    Now, the way to stop the rumor mongering is to use these moves and actually WIN. The team Al has fielded the last five years deserves to be ridiculed. As a Raiders fan I hope Al and Kiffin find a way to shut up the naysayers starting on Monday night against Denver.

  • http://www.consumptionjunctyion.com SilverNblack666

    Mockery is a form of flattery and I am flattered by the several posts with people using my name.

    Thank you fans I do adore you!!

  • http://www.consumptionjunctyion.com SilverNblack666

    COW how the hell have you been!!!

  • http://www.consumptionjunctyion.com/ SilverNblack666

    104 is not me. Jerry, can we do something about this? It’s bad enough you’re a rumor monger, but now you’re letting people post under my name, too. MR is gay and he’s hitting on people. That makes me uncomfortable. Makes my mouth water. Anyway, can you make him leave? Ban his IP, or something? Thank you.

  • http://none MR

    Mockery is a form of flattery and I am flattered by the several posts with people using my name.

    Thank you fans I do adore you!!

  • http://www.consumptionjunctyion.com SilverNblack666

    110
    106
    103
    100
    99
    98
    96
    95
    93 are all my fans and love me so much they mock me!!

    But anyone with half a brain could easily see the weak vocabulary and poor syntax is that of a simpleton and not me.

  • C4

    Welcome back Jerry, Im still sorry for your loss, my dad is dying as I type, as impossable as it seems, Iknow how you feel.

  • http://none MR

    I’m sorry 666.

    Sometimes I just miss Gruden so much I get a little abusive.

    Just admit you miss him too.

    Do you still want to come over?

  • http://www.consumptionjunctyion.com/ SilverNblack666

    112 is my fan and loves me so much he mocks me!!

    But anyone with half a brain could easily see the weak vocabulary and poor syntax is that of a simpleton and not me.

  • http://www.consumptionjunctyion.com SilverNblack666

    now there are 4 or 5 of me!

    This RULES!!!!!

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    about caught up.Alltell put a block on my laptop 4 some reason.Oh well thats all cleared up.MR you call it meddleing I call it giving advice,of course ADs underlings dont allways listen.But b4 you pounce:there is PLENTY OF BLAME 2 AROUND 4 our abominal record.Believe me,Im just as pissed-off as you,ADs 2 blame,Callahns 2 blame,Turner Shell,THE DAMN OFFICIALS,hell Im 2 blame,I should have supported the team more.SO MR lets stop trying 2 put the blame on 1 persons plate,because everyones 2 blame.All TOGRTHER NOW NATION GO RAIDERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • PhillyRaider

    HEY JERRY!!!! We sure missed you bro!! Welcome back and I did have your healing in my prayers like I said I would. Your the best man and Dakota… I’ll see your crazy azz in 3 weeks bro!! I AM OUT but I AM ALWAYS IN!!!

  • ChargersChoke

    Chris Henry??????!!!!!!!!!

  • http://none MR

    I understand there’s plenty of blame to throw around, 4evaRaider. But who deserves the most blame? What one person is more responsible than anyone else for us being 19-61 over the past 5 years?

  • http://i288.photobucket.com/albums/ll180/floresrd508/raidernation.jpg SouthTexasRaider

    its good to see you back in the saddle jerry.
    just remember, as you ride along the bumpy trail of life, the bright star in the sky will guide you home.

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    MR post 54 what you tkink Al DAVIS is afraid 2 pay Kiffin extra money 2 fire him???? He gave Walker 16 million,Hall 24,who knows how much more???AD may be afraid of something but paying money isnt 1 of them.

  • MR is a Liar and Hater

    MR..how goes the girl safari..not to good..your on the computer all the time..do you have eye problems..do you know the difference between men and woman..man..you need help..i pity your mom and da..they mumble under their breath.. we created a fool.. my gut tells me you will be on late tonight..poor soul very sad life you have..im back to college in 3 weeks..lets talk again..i want to leave you with some hope and knowhow on your ability to pull chicks..leave the politics alone..bummer ..brings people down..life MR..late

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    MR post5 123;fat-azz siragusa

  • Raider Dave

    Welcome back Jerry!
    You know, the draft where they got Mario Henderson, wasn’t the same draft where the 2nd round pick, a DE, didn’t even make the team? Hard to imporve as a team when your 2nd & 3rd round picks don’t even make the team.

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    Raider Dave,we traded our 3rd round pick in 2007 4 Henderson

  • http://none FIRE KIFFIN

    Raider Dave – I agree Kiffin’s draft $ucked.

    Thank God Al locked him in the bathroom for this year’s draft.

    Just Win Baby.

  • http://contracostatimes David

    You wanna-be Raider Fans are a joke. Why dont you all take your stupid (non-Raider talk)chit-chat to MySpace or post something worth talking about. I come here for some positive feed-back about the team I love most and all I get is your IGNORANT BRAIN-FARTS. Don’t you people have anything else better to do. My Heart is Oakland. I need a good season this year. Come on Raiders lets prove these Poo$$ies wrong, Yeah that goes for all you heart-less Wanna-Be raider fans too. WATCH OUT NFL HERE COMES THE SILVER AND BLACK AT THEIR FINEST LIKE IT SHOULD BE. Damn I feel good about this season. I couldn’t say that last year. OaktownRaider4Life. For all you PS3 Madden FANATICS come get wooped by WhettoFromDaBay(Madden Web Name) Raiders all day!!!! I Love You Al Davis, Stay Strong for the team we need more than ever.

  • Rawraider

    Dudley’s problems were never about passion. His problems were with his STONE COLD hands. He couldn’t catch a football worth a $*@#! . He was to used to the round ball.

  • BR

    Gotta admit, though, as you say, training camp isn’t here yet, and yet it is, if a player isn’t aggressive and passionate in THIS Sport, like the Dud ‘dud’ ley guy, don’t bring ‘em on-board. The RAIDERS, in none of their LINES especially, need a wimpy, non-focused, walk all over performer, as either people of less talent or no talent have caused some and much of the offensive problems of the past, don’t lets’ have it continue.
    Shop around, anythings’ better than nothing at all. Watch the ‘waiver,cut wire’, and don’t just ‘hang onto a 3rd rounder’ with these sorts of ‘blatantly obvious performance problems’. Putting the pads on aren’t going to change anyone, though if he does have ‘exceptional talent for the game and position’ maybe he’ll be one of those sorts of individuals whom’ll get ‘good and mad, angry’ if you will, at all those being so critical and begin playing with the ALZADO CHIP ON HIS SHOULDER, and become what he needs to be.
    We have NO MORE TIME or PATIENCE for mediocraty’ from the RAIDERS on their line or otherwise.
    They REALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY DO have unique talent on the team, that can ‘turn this around beginning week one with Denver’ to make a playoff appearance, but only IF the Lines play up to be supportative of the QB, the RBs’, he WRs’, the LBs’ and DBs’…what else is there, where ELSE is the PROBLEM!!!!!!

  • RIP Dan Birdwell

    Jerry,

    Welcome back bror, glad to have you.

    I don’t get why people are so worried about Henderson. What little I saw of him at FSU, and every report I read, every exhibition snap he played, it was OBVIOUS had had a LOT of work to do. Very, very green. He looks to me like a guy who is thinking hard out there, which makes it hard to play physically or with passion. That thing with the feet is really an issue. I’d guess he’s not ready this year.

    What mystifies me about this entire discussion is the absent name of Paul McQuistan. Mulet guy sure seemed to me like he played far better at RT than Green did. Far more physical in the running game, better at firing out and engaging the LEs in pass blocking. With the not terribly physical Carlisle at RG, McQuistan really seemed to bring something.

    Jerry, somebody, anybody — can you explain with some bit of empiricism why McQuistan seems to be out of the equation?

    Peace.

  • Cruzin

    Jerry welcome back. Thx for all the great work.

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    We will not know the o-line depth chart until camp is underway.

  • Dan

    Jerry -

    Good to have you back. Sorry for your loss.

  • Brien

    Post 97 knows whats up. FSU players sucks arse!!! We are in trobule in pass protection this year no doubt

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    Jerry,

    How can a 80 yr old man be the organizational draft guru? Could you ask Mike Taylor please?

  • http://www.Raiders.com Oakglenn

    Even tho I think they have McQ slated as a BU guard, RIP is right. he acquitted himself quite well and continued to improve over the course of his stint at RT last year. Why not start him there this year?

  • Brien

    Raiders will win the west if the LT position is solid but Harris is garbage!!!

  • kevn

    Good to have you back, Jerry.

  • Brien

    Jmac my condolences but you still suck though

  • http://roadrunner.com hawaiiR8DR

    Jerry, nice to have you back!

  • http://none MR

    Just admit you guys miss Gruden prowling the sidelines.
    Those were the days when my heart filled with pride to call myself a Raiders fan.

    Come back Grudy.

  • Dski

    Jerry, welcome back. I admire for even making this post in a well-written, well-structured piece.

    On Javon Walker, sounds to me like he got robbed trying to make a drug buy. Or trying to score some babe. But how many times do you get in a car with a stranger if he’s gonna get you a babe? You might get in a car without someone who tells you he knows where to score some weed or coke though.

    Hope I’m wrong but it’s the only plausible speculation that fit the facts.

  • Raider68

    Great to have you back. Wasn’t the same without you. Sapp may have a knack for the overstatement, I believe what he says to be true. Stuff does happen with this team that shouldn’t go on in sports. Inmates running the asylum. The looniest of all wearing a jogging suit and overpaying mediocre players might be the whole problem.

  • Brien

    I figure this…..the LT and RT positions are just too unknown at this point. There is every reason that indicates it. Harris sucks, Henderson is just mysterious in itself, Green are atrocious and Mullet dude is cool but not a world beater by any stretch but he is better than a trash a$$ tackle. I suppose the best will win in camp and thus lose it at some point in the season.

    I’m on record on a few sites saying just let it be Henderson and Mullet dude. Harris is hopeless! Everyone go to youtube type his damn name in and watch the feature. We already seen the no pass protection skills by Green…… it will not workout for that guy at all being a starter for us. Let the young guys all learn together. This is how you not only build a championship team its how you build a dynasty. The drafted guys are usually the biggest part of the entire equation.

    We got a young QB and RB eith some enormous measureables. Now we will see if it transfers on the field but wait……….we also got a young tight end that is good for once! The WR spot is questionable but cannot be worse than last season. The o-line has the steepest hill to come but if the Raiders find the right mesh on the line we might see an Al dynasty before he leaves the planet. People think I’m crazy for saying this but everyone has slept on the Raiders moves.

    I mean think logically about it if you have been down with Raiders for a long time. Name the last time this much talent was on the team. I wondering how many years you have to go back to see it. Honestly when was the last time this franchise had a young franchise QB and young franchise RB? The Raiders took the best player two years in a damn row. Al has got a plan and it will blow up in the media punk face. In november the two story lines we will be hearing are…..”How Kiffin is doing the unthinkable”..and..”Why the game never passed by Al Davis”….

    It’s on Raider people this season and from now on. I feel we have a legit shot to make the playoffs because the AFC West is more comfortable in 08 and the schedule dates favor the Raiders. A 3-1 start is what I believe the team will have going into the bye week. We get three division games early in the season. That makes us battle tested heading towards playing 3 garbage AFC foes and 3 interconferce games(two in Oakland…back to back)before the season gets very difficult to win. After that we got 3 straight division games which will ultimately decide if we make the playoffs or not………… This schedule is so to our advatange it’s sickening. There isn’t one game we have to play in now except for a Denver team we played earlier inthe season. I like that Buffalo and god damn Baltimore aren’t in cold season. We will be fine this season…even with some sorry excuse for players.

  • Lakota

    Hi,

    I am new here…what is the subject?

    Are all of you Liberals?

  • Dakota

    Holy crapp…the Beard is an LA Clipper…how ironic!

  • Dakota

    Or should I say…holy crap!

  • Dakota

    Dogg where are you? Your team picked Don N. over the Beard!

    WTF?

  • Johnny Rebel

    Mike Lombardi is the man that ruined the Raiders since the Superbowl and he is out of the NFL for that very reason.

  • http://none Bill Pickel

    Dakota this is not an NBA blog.

    STFU!

    Go Raiders.