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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

    Oakglenn your ass tastes terrible.

  • http://none MR

    Sorry Oakglenn. I’m realy drunk. I know you miss him, but I REALLY miss him. If you know what I mean. I’m sorry I said that your dad is gay. I love you man. I spend more time talking to you than I do my own kids. It was diffrent when Chucky was in town. I was different.

  • John Elway’s Teeth

    If Ricky DUDley had so much passion for basketball, why didn’t he play in the NBA instead of slogging through the NFL like the first round BUST that he was? What a wasted draft pick.

  • http://www.raiderfans.net cc me

    What up, fellas. Come down to Raiderfans.net and give me a holla. I’m always up for a good time. And I’m a real freak. Go all ways. See you boys later.

  • http://www.raiderfans.net cc me

    I live in Newcastle. I’m a real freak. Love the D, know what I’m saying? And I’m not talking “defense”. Come down to Raiderfans.net and I’ll show you studs some good pictures of me. You’ll like the way us Newcastle heffers get down.

    Sincerley,

    cc me

    Raiderfans.net moderator
    total freak.

  • http://www.raiderfans.net Tyson

    But don’t come to Raiderfans.net if you’re black. I hate pinche mayates. And I will have Candygirl ban you if you try to stick up for blacks. Tu sabes? She’s Mexican and she hates chongos too. Only Mexicans and whites, please. Asians too, but only because you’re smart. Just no blacks.

  • Rellik30

    Or Rob Ryan getting fired??

  • http://www.raiderfans.net Tyson

    Just so everyone here knows, I swing both ways, too. So come to Raiderfans.net and if you’re, you know, curious, send me your email. In this regard, I’ll take blacks, too. Because, well, I know it’s not a myth, know what I’m saying? I like you chongos in the sack. I just hate you politically. All your crying about slavery whaa whaa. But I’ll take your giant black chorizo. Come to Raiderfans.net and give me a pm. We’ll chat.

  • http://none MR

    Rob Ryan is not hot at all.

  • John Elway’s Teeth

    I thought this was a football blog, specifically a Raiders blog. What does race have to do with anything?

  • http://www.raiderfans.net Attyla

    Tyson, cut it out, ok? We’re a reputable site. I talked to you about the thing with black people. We have to be more subtle about it. We can’t talk about it out loud, ok?

  • http://www.raiderfans.net cc me

    I love Big D!!! And I aint talking about Dallas, baby.

    Come to Raiderfans.net and get a load of my whale sized tail. Us Newcastle gals might tip the scales but we know what we’re doing, too. You’ll be quite pleased. Wanna see pics of me? Raiderfans.net

    cc me
    Raiderfans.net moderator
    1975 Newcastle call girl of the year

  • John Elway’s Teeth

    alright then….I gotta go brush my teeth. With thes equine chiclets that’s an all night job. G’nite yall.

    I’m In

  • http://www.raiderfans.net Attyla

    CC me, calm down, sweetie. And, I’ve had a piece of that pie. Let’s just say I needed penicillin the next day. CC Me is nice to hang out with but put a sock on the pickle if you go any further. Fair warning. Praise the lord and go Raiders. Visit us at Raiderfans.net.

  • http://www.raiderfans.net Tyson

    I’m sorry, Attyla. Don’t ban me, please. I love your site. No other site lets me get away with my anti black views. Don’t ban me, please!!!

  • http://www.raiderfans.net Attyla

    Tyson,, shhhhhhhh!!!!

    And, don’t worry, we won’t ban you. You and your views are safe at Raiderfans.net. Just don’t brag about it. We talked about it, kiddo. I’m off to throw on some Preparation H and hit the sack. Got a bleeder. See you guys tomorrow, and give Raiderfans.net a visit. It’s the number one site for Raider fans!

  • http://none MR

    Sorry Mods. I drank way too much tonight. Please be so kind to delete all of my posts. Especially the post where I apoligize too Oakglenn. I hate Oakglenn. i hate everyone. The human race has peaked with Chuckie and we are now circling the drain.

  • http://www.raiderfans.net cc me

    Is that you, Oakglenn? Baby, I heard you pull chicks! Come on down to Raiderfans.net and let me give you all 275 lbs. of my Newcastle milk shake. It bring all the boys to the yard. See you soon, Oakie poke. Raiderfans.net. Don’t be a stranger. My name’s cc_me

  • http://hahaha Ghost to the post

    Yep, RF.net likes to rag on people after they’re gone, and when they can’t fight back. Got that hall of shame folder. They should let sleeping dogs lie. It’s not like people can’t just rag on them at other sites, like this one.

  • http://none Cc Me

    Come on Mods! What do I have to say to get deleted around here. This the drunkest I’ve ever been in my whole life. I didn’t drink that much when Chuckie was still town. I didn’t have to.

  • ENGLANDRAIDER

    Welcome back Jerry.
    AL Davis having second thoughts? How about 24/7?
    Al Davis calling the sideline? Is anyone suprised by that? I mean this is Al we’re talking about. There is nothing new in Cole’s article. He’s just rehashing the obvious. Couldn’t you say the same about a whole boatload of owners?
    Sapp is great. but he says that kind of stuff about a lot of folks-including Jon Gruden. Sometimes he makes great comments and sometimes it’s just stuff that goes straight through both ears.

  • http://raiders.com 408RAIDER

    cant sleep sup NATION….

  • severeraider

    At work, wuts up nation. I get tired of this whole Gruden crap, he won against a team he helped build and an offense he designed. He would have had to be a retard not to win that game in dominating fashion. If that Raider team would have played anyone else in that game in would have been a rout. If it wasn’t for Jon Grudens crappy drafting we would be in a much better position right now. For all his coaching prowess he has a serious lack for spottig talent. That explains why he has 5 Qb’s on his roster…..though Josh Johnson will be a star IMO.

    Mr, how can u give Kiffin credit for winning and at the same time place the blame on al for losing??? Al built that team that went to the superbowl, all the clues are there. We had a team full of journeymen, castoffs, and reclaimation projects.

  • severeraider

    I just read an article that said we would go 3-13 and finish last in the AFC west. If that is not biased media hating I don’t know what is. With all of the talent that we have on this team combined with a weak division and easy schedule we should be no lower than a .500 team.

    On the Javon Walker incident. Whoever suggested drugs is correct IMO and whoever suggetsed coke and weed are not at all street smart. When u deal coke or weed 99% of time u are strapped or with someone that is strapped due to the turf wars. I’ve had homeboys that got shot and shoot at people because they were in the wrong territory trying to make a deal. Its difficult to beleive that Javon, even in his impaired state, would be dumb enough to forget this especially when he was wearing 100k in bling. He was probably trying to get some x.

  • http://mvn.com/nfl-raiders/ patrick
  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    Good Morning NATION,Fits the crack head M.O.

  • http://google braveheartraider

    been a while since i’ve been on this blog n i’m dissapointed that some of the garbage is still here. Gruden’s been n gone. Forget him. he had his chance n wanted out. We dont do re-treads. Still some mighty whites spewing their filth around here too. Ignorant f#@%s.

  • http://raiders.com 408RAIDER

    Severeraider
    X never thought of that but it makes alot of sence Jovan could have stayed in the O if he wanted to thizz tripple stack stlye…

    4eva sup bro I still cant sleep this sucks I gotta go to work in a couple of hours…

  • http://raiders.com 408RAIDER

    you guys gotta read this…. LMAO
    http://www.yahoo.com/s/909973

  • severeraider

    That’s what I’m saying….Javon was in front of his hotel with a bad breezy getting ready to smash, I find it hard to believe that he would turn down a piece of a$$ to get faded. If I were headed to vegas and getting ready to party and I smoked, I would bring some of that california sticky from the yay. I heard that vegas weed was like smokin straight dried grass and hay. I don’t smoke so it don’t matter to me.

  • severeraider

    Real talk…..the guy obviously kan’t take a punch for nothin and I already know how dudes get down in the yay so he betta have a bodyguard or an entourage wit him at all times. My homeboy live up there and he told me that they just as grimey as los skandolous. They don’t call it killa kali for nothin.

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    Hey 408 Brother ,Good 2 hear youre word!!!How did you like dem Fosters,the more you drink em the more you like em.Work still slow 4 me but Im still hangin on GO RAIDERS

  • Raiderrave

    If I may be permitted to interrupt all the talk about politics, race, religion, drugs, etc., does anyone know a site where I can find a sound byte of “there are 31 teams in the NFL………..and then there are the Oakland Raiders”..classic……my money says if anyone can find this, its Dakota

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    Raiderrave,Dakota can find anything

  • http://raiders.com 408RAIDER

    4eva fosters were cool pluss they were on sale… (=

    check out the link on #229

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    408 sounds like a bunch of squakin squaws.Fosters here is $10.00 a 12 pack 4 12 oz cans.Its hardly ever on sale.American beer is 2 sweet 4 me,except mick lite or coors lite out of a keg only

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    Not you 408 :kc fans sound like squawkin squaws sorry 2 you if it didnt look right,BRO!!!

  • La Milicia Negra

    why, who and what? lite beer?!!? explain it…

    if you go up in thing that are light you shouldn’t drink beer – period! all the taste is hidden in what has been carved away to make it LITE…

    Bwadr! lite beer is wuzzy guys who like purple teams!

    Morning Nation!

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    408 where are you

  • severeraider

    Javon was targeted for the robbery…..look at the facts it makes perfect sense.

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    I guess Im not perfect,LMN,I should have said its been years Since I had a lite beer.But I cant lie,2 this day I would drink COORS LITE out of the KEG RIGHT NOW!!!

  • SC Raider

    “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.”

    GLAD TO HAVE YOU BACK JERRY

  • La Milicia Negra

    4eva…

    well I know you have had lite beers in the states for tons of years, we have had alcohol light beers, but now we got this calorie light beer, and I’m asking myself, if you buy this you shouldn’t even drink! =)

  • SC Raider

    Severeraider – if he wasn’t already on E when he got in the car. That junk will make u do some dumb $h!t, especially if u are around people u can’t trust.

  • La Milicia Negra

    4eva…

    you said Denver didn’t have any RB’s

    Najeh Davenport, Shaun Alexander, Travis Henry, Cedric Benson, and Kevin Jones are still on the market, and for one year these guys are pretty good.

  • Pingback: group theory

  • severeraider

    Sc raider-

    I wouldn’t be surprised if he had popped some pills at the club. He was prolly all hopped up on goofballs when he got in the car because even when ur drunk ur not stupid…I heard e makes u do some far out stuff.

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    LMN,we all know why Denmark is the happiest place on earth;you guys drink manly beer (lol)!!!In my youth I climbed and repelled many mountians,lite beer was 4 me didnt fill you up on the way up.Last ten years or so,its been all FOSTERS,but I stand by my statement if there was ever a keg of the silver bullet I would drink like fish!!!

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    Just found out i have a virus on my laptop talk to you all later RAIDER ON

  • La Milicia Negra

    4eva…

    hahaha Manly beer =)