Part of the Bay Area News Group

Training camp, Day 3

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, July 26th, 2008 at 7:00 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Quick hits from the Raiders’ lone practice Saturday:

– It was probably to be expected after the aerial display featuring JaMarcus Russell the previous evening, but the Raiders came back to earth Saturday afternoon in a snappy practice that was wrapped up in under an hour and 40 minutes.

Things were much more difficult for the near-rookie, as Russell mixed in some nice balls with several that were broken up and nearly intercepted, as well as one badly thrown pass late over the middle that free safety Michael Huff read perfectly and snared on a dive.

Coach Lane Kiffin said he was more interested in watching Russell convert the routine plays than the sort of Star Wars show he put on Friday night.

“We’re not going to coach those special throws that he makes where he’s running over there and he throws back and makes those great throws. That’s who he is and very few people can do that,” Kiffin said. “But those happen one time a game, maybe two times. We’ve got to get him to do everything right, the little things, the little completions and the timing of everything.

“That’s all the stuff that wows the fans and people watching but that’s not what makes you a good quarterback. A good quarterback plays with great discipline, he takes care of the ball and he throws things on time. We’re going to have to get that going with him. He’s continuing to improve on it. We’re giving him a lot of reps. We’re wearing him out on purpose for conditioning, not just his arm but his body.”

Said Russell about what was important: “The small detail things. When you pay close attention to that, then things will be better for you instead of being Superman all the time.”

– During one seven-on-seven sequence, Russell was nearly intercepted by DeAngelo Hall while looking for Johnnie Lee Higgins along the sideline _ a pass that could have been a defensive touchdown. His next pass, intended for tight end Tony Stewart, was tipped in the air and nearly intercepted by Sam Williams.

– Two plays later, Marques Tuiasosopo, who also threw well Friday night, was intercepted by linebacker Robert Thomas on a pass intended for Jonathan Holland.

– In a team sequence, Russell fared better when on back-to-back throws. Drew Carter made a difficult, physical catch with Chris Johnson draped all over him on a 12-yard out, and Russell followed it up with a touch lob for 20-plus yards to tight end John Madsen in stride.

– Early in practice, with the running backs breaking out of one drill and heading toward another at the horn, Kiffin threw a high pass which nearly caught an unsuspecting Darren McFadden right in the face guard, with McFadden reaching up at the last second to knock down.

At the conclusion of practice, Kiffin was talking to an assistant coach only to be nearly struck by a Shane Lechler skyscraper. It was caught by Rashad Baker.

“Was that Shane or the JUGS machine?,” Kiffin asked as he went to the podium to speak to reporters. When told it was Lechler, Kiffin said, “Don’t think he didn’t do that on purpose.”

– Rookie receiver Arman Shields, who has had some impressive moments through the early sessions, incurred the wrath of offensive coordinator Greg Knapp for a half-speed route.

“C’mon rook. Break on it,” Knapp barked. “When you break on it, you might want to go toward the ball and not off the field. You’ve got to focus when you’re tired.”

– Running backs coach Tom Rathman was instructing running backs how to stop in their tracks in the middle of a zone then break outside to get open underneath. He used Justin Griffith to demonstrate how it was done before turning to second-year fullback Oren O’Neal and McFadden.

O’Neal ran the route well enough, but didn’t look up in time and Russell’s pass glanced off his hands.

“Gotta have it, `O,’ ” Rathman said.

Next was McFadden, who ran into the middle and then peeled off without stopping first.

“No, sit first. You’ve got to sit first,” Rathman said.

– Left tackle Kwame Harris missed practice with a sore lower back and is expected back Sunday morning. In his place, Paul McQuistan, who has been seeing time at left guard, moved outside to tackle. Also playing left tackle were Seth Wand and Mario Henderson, who is competing with Cornell Green on the right side.

Raiders tackles have had difficulty slowing the charge of Derrick Burgess (almost always on the left side, a few snaps on the right) and Kalimba Edwards from the outside. Kiffin conceded it is that area where Harris will need to get up to speed.

“He’s been a better run player for us so far,” Kiffin said. “We got some things in the pass protection going back to the left side — he hasn’t been there for a while — that we’ve got to work out, that (Tom) Cable’s working on with him. We got a lot of hopes for him, and we’re going to need him.”

– The Raiders appear to be running the ball well and crisply with Justin Fargas, McFadden and Michael Bush, although until they face a team in a different uniform, it will be tough to tell how good they really are.

– Linemen who false start have been told to take laps around the field, with McQuistan and Brandon Robb among those to make the circuit Saturday.

– Rookie end Trevor Scott has had some difficulty disengaging and making his presence felt a pass rusher. A converted tight end, Scott is listed at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds and actually looks smaller out of uniform.

One one play, with Louis Rankin breaking free, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan yelled, “C’mon Trevor, you’ve got to hold that edge!”

“It’s definitely something that takes getting used to,” Scott said. “Coming from college to the NFL, there’s really no comparison. Guys are just phenomenal, and the O-linemen have great feet, and that’s where coach (Keith) Millard is really telling me to hone in on my techniques and trust my technique and have my technique beat theirs. Use agility and quickness and try to get around them.”

– Huff, sometimes invisible while lost in among the bigger players at strong safety, has been conspicuous not only with his playmaking, but his enthusiasm for playing free safety.

“I’m out there running around, having fun, make Gibril (Wilson) take on all the tackles and guards and fullbacks and all that,” Huff said. “I can stay back there and make plays.”

Huff is doing a good job reading the offense, but is having a hard time figuring out his weight pattern. He said he tried to bulk up to last year and finished the season at a skeletal 193 pounds. Now that he’s a free safety, he is up to 205.

“I know it’s strange, but I feel quick out there, real fast,” Huff said.

– If Tommy Kelly is as good as the Raiders seem to think he is, that $18.125 million guaranteed won’t seem so bad after the $22 million guaranteed Glenn Dorsey got from the Kansas City Chiefs.

It was just a day or two ago that Chiefs exec Carl Peterson was spouting his usual nonsense about Dorsey’s contract demands, only to cave in and pay what the market demanded he pay.

– Kelly has been putting in overtime on the cardio machines after practice, working on getting his weight down. He has been one of the last players to leave the field house.

– Safety Greg Wesley (back spasms) and linebacker Grant Irons (hamstring) missed practice and are day-to-day. Defensive end Fred Wakefield (flu-like symptoms) was back at practice and even played a few snaps inside at defensive tackle.

– If Al Davis is the kind of guy who worries about these things, he hates the idea of LaMont Jordan joining New England, where he could join Randy Moss and show up the Raiders by putting up big numbers, and even warned his agent to make sure he went somewhere else.

More logically, Davis is pleased to see Jordan wind up in a place where he is buried behind Lawrence Maroney and Kevin Faulk, putting him only one rung above the Fargas-McFadden-Bush mountain he faced in Oakland.

– The Raiders have a double session today with the first practice at 9 a.m. and the second at 7 p.m.

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  • http://www.Raiders.com Oakglenn

    The story is in #283

  • Dakota

    MR still obsessed with the 49ers…

  • HayesDaze#37

    A top-10 QB list without Johnny U, but with Plunkett on it? Love the great Raider Jim Plunkett, but we need to be a little more objective than that.

    Would Brady be top-10 without knowing every defense he faces through nefarious means?

    If Elway was surrounded by HOF talent for his entire career, he would probably be at the top of the list.

    Now, that’s about as objective as a Raiders fan could be.

  • raider11680

    MR
    somebody asked you to please break down the team position by position in a professional way. I have seen people ask you that before, but no answer. Why?

  • http://www.Raiders.com Oakglenn

    Actually Daze, I saw both Unitas and Elway play many times with my own eyes. Elway was the best QB I ever saw. hate to say it but it’s true. If he had the Pro Bowlers and Hall of Famers Montana had, he would have won 6-8 Super Bowls.

  • HayesDaze#37

    Peyton definitely should be in the top-10. Starr and Griese should fall, and Favre might belong in 7-10 range.

  • http://raiders.com 408RAIDER

    ufkc horse face!!

    He was a great qb tho but ufck donkey homo

  • Mistabrown

    Favre now says he wont show up for camp…this guy is a complete train wreck. He still hasn’t filed for reinstatement making ALL this drama obsolete!

    Jackace!

  • http://www.Raiders.com Oakglenn

    Well said 408.

  • lompoc raider

    hurry jerry(gasp)need new post(cough cough) starting to die in here with MR spewing same old crap(wheez)he needs to follow different team(vomit)maybe the bucs, than he would have no reason to visit this site.

  • Mistabrown

    HayesDaze, if you include every QB that won 1 SB in his life as Favre did you would have to include Doug Williams, Hosstetler, Dilfer, Brad Johnson, do you want to put them in the HOF ? Favre is a meathead!

  • HayesDaze#37

    Had Al traded for (bought) Elway when he tried to, the Raiders would have more SB rings than any team in the league. We would’ve gladly gotten used to his big grin while he was holding the trophy high.

    Just my opinion…

  • raider11680

    I’m going to make and start selling flip-flops with Bret’s Favre’s face on them.

  • http://raiders.com 408RAIDER

    yeah If he were a Raider I would be able to deal with horse face but…..

  • HayesDaze#37

    Favre is the only 3-time NFL MVP. That’s gotta say something. Does he belong at the top of the heap? Not even close. But better than a few on that original list? Absolutely.

    Saw Elway almost every time he played the Raiders — win or lose, he’s the best QB I’ve ever seen at any level.

  • Mistabrown

    His threat to report to camp was just a hollow threat since he hasn’t filed for reinstatement. Packer management is praying this hillbilly honk goes away.

  • http://raiders.com 408RAIDER

    Daze

    well we have a kid in JRuss who I hope in time changes your mind about the best QB of all time!! =)

  • http://0 Bob Marley

    The sfgate.com report is up:

    “For all the money the Raiders threw around this past offseason, wide receiver Drew Carter looks like the steal of the free-agent class.

    The fifth-year receiver from Carolina continued to catch everything thrown his way, proving himself to be the most reliable and consistent playmaker at JaMarcus Russell’s disposal through after four days of camp.

    Of course, none of this means he’ll be a starter when the Raiders open the season. Javon Walker makes too much money to sit on the bench and Ronald Curry has been solid enough to hold his job.

    With that said, neither of them have done the spectacular as often as Carter. In Sunday morning’s practice, he sprinted down the sideline and went high for a deep catch from Andrew Walter. When cornerback Chris Johnson tried to wrestle the ball away on the ground, Carter fought for a good 30 seconds before emerging with full control.

    That mixture of speed, hands and determination will serve the Raiders’ vertical game well.

    In other camp observations:

    ** Running back Darren McFadden dropped another easy pass, something he has done at least once a day. This one came on a quick slant in front of outside linebacker Thomas Howard, with Russell getting the ball there in a hurry.

    “C’mon, D-Mac, make that play!” running backs coach Tom Rathman yelled.

    Raiders coach Lane Kiffin notices a problem with his technique that he said can be easily corrected.

    “He’s had some innacurate hand placement on some catches, which is a surprise because we didn’t see much of that in camp before,” Kiffin said. “He’s got so much going on and so much pressure on him and so many different plays. So we’re going to keep pushing him and then there will come a time when we pull back.

    ** One thing off McFadden’s plate are kick and punt returns. For now, the potential starters are rookie safety Tyvon Branch on kickoffs and Johnnie Lee Higgins on punts. Kiffin said McFadden remains a backup option.

    ** Veteran safety Greg Wesley returned to practice after missing two days with back spasms. Cut by the Chiefs last week and signed by the Raiders, his presence was immediately felt when he charged the line of scrimmage to halt running back Adimchinobe Echemandu.

    Coupled with the impressive play of strong safety Gibril Wilson, this is the sort of physical play at safety the Raiders have lacked for years.

    ** Left tackle Kwame Harris (lower back) missed a second straight practice but will try to go at tonight’s workout. His return will allow replacement Paul McQuistan to return to guard, which is a good thing. McQuistan continued to struggle at left tackle with another false start and poor pass protection.

    ** Three more false starts and shaky pass blocking means deepened concerns about the offensive line when the team isn’t running the ball.

    ** Russell fumbled his first snap of training camp, backing away before he had control of the ball from center John Wade. Unlike the other quarterbacks in previous days, he didn’t run a lap.

    ** Wide receiver Jonathan Holland made the play of the day with an all-out extension catch in the end zone.

    ** Consider former starter Jake Grove the early frontrunner for the starting center job ahead of Wade and Chris Morris, not that the Raiders are close to picking a winner. If nothing else, he’s the only one without a botched quarterback exchange.”

    sfgate.com David White

  • HayesDaze#37

    And Mista — We all know that one SB ring doesn’t make a great QB. A body of work does. Favre’s got a pretty impressive resume for a guy who wasn’t surrounded by superstars himself.

    And Jeff Hostetler? Certainly no Hall Of Famer, but he sure was the whipping boy for Art Shell. Hostetler paid more than anybody for Shell’s terrible coaching. Going back to the QB calling their own plays debate — Hoss should’ve just kept doing it. Hoss was all man, and the Raiders could’ve used him the past 5-years.

  • raider11680

    Jerry had said in one of his practice reports that Jamarcus looked great when he was throwing them all over the field, putting up a “Star Wars Laser Show” or something like that. Anyway, I’m bringing that up because I think that might be a very good thing come play action time, since we are going to be running a lot… you throw in a play action play on first or second down, and BAM! TD CARTER! lol…

  • http://www.cosmicdanceband.com SilverNblack666

    Yes Elway would have looked sharp in the Silver and Black. And don’t give me that Elway would not play here bull crap because his dad was the coach of the Stanford football team at the time, I am sure he would have loved to be in the Bay Area.

    Now why haven’t we got a new update on today’s workouts?

  • http://raiders.com 408RAIDER

    new fix

  • http://0 Bob Marley

    new post

  • JediRaider

    Hey MR,

    We’ve got Denver (Home), KC, Buffalo, and San Diego (at home) in our first 4. That’s a good schedule to go 4-0 if we can get over the san diego “hump” – the only team that’s better than us is San Diego, and we’ve got them at home and we’re due for a win – we should at least go 2-2, and I would expect to go 3-1 beating Denver and KC easily, and we should handle Buffalo’s conservative offense fairly well too with our revamped secondary. I just don’t see Kiffin getting fired early in the season – Al hates paying big money to ex employees and he should know that he shouldn’t expect the Super Bowl in JR’s first year as a starter.

  • Mildog

    Damn JMc, please get read of that drivel that some people submit. They pump in garbage only trying to be first. I enjoy reading your articles and a lot of the comments that have good content. But those comments are diluted by those idiots crowing about their quickness in submitting a comment.

  • RaiderfanNY

    Fantastic reports, Jerry. The more detail, the better. Your blog is the next best thing to being there. We appreciate it out here on the East Coast…

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