Part of the Bay Area News Group

Scouring the wires

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, August 24th, 2008 at 6:47 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Quick hits from Lane Kiffin’s conference call press briefing Sunday night:

– Kiffin is expecting the Raiders to be on the lookout for potential replacements for fullback Oren O’Neal and wide receiver Drew Carter, both lost for the season with left knee injuries.

At fullback, Marcel Reece, although an intriguing talent who could have a place on the practice squad, is not ready for prime time on Sept. 8 in the backfield.

“We really only have one with Justin (Griffith),” Kiffin said. “The other guy is a project, he was a receiver a month ago.”

Aside from starting split end Javon Walker and wide receiver Ronald Curry, the seven receivers currently on the Raiders roster have combined for seven receptions for 66 yards. Six of those for 49 yards come from Johnnie Lee Higgins, while Chris McFoy had one catch for 19 yards after being promoted from the practice squad last year.

Jonathan Holland, Drisan James, Todd Watkins and of course rookie draft picks Arman Shields and Chaz Schilens have not caught a pass in the NFL.

“There’s not a lot of history there as far as guys playing in the league besides Javon and Ronald,” Kiffin said. “Really, none of those guys have really played before. Johnnie played a few, I think he had two or three catches last year so it would be tough to only go with two guys who have played before.”

– Veterans available include the perennially troubled but talented Koren Robinson _ whose best success has been on kickoff returns _ and veteran Joe Horn, who has talked his way out of his last two places of employment. Horn’s agent told ESPN.com’s Bill Williamson he expected to talk to the Raiders, but it’s not as if agents ever say, “It’s the darndest thing. No one is interested in my client.”

When it comes to players who aren’t currently employed, there is usually a reason why they’re not employed.

Not that the Raiders won’t be interested.

“There are always a few guys who have been veterans at every position that wait for things to happen like this, for teams to get injuries,” Kiffin said. “They stay in shape and they know their bodies so they know they can still come in late in camp and still contribute.

“That’s one option. There are a number of guys out there. Another option is to wait either until a couple of days for these first cuts or even more for the last cuts. The last cuts, some good people are getting let go on some of the good teams.”

– For the record, Mike Williams is available. So are Johnnie Morant, Doug Gabriel and Carlos Francis.

Never mind.

– As much as the Raiders like Shields’ skill set, his odds of making the 53-man roster appear slim.

“I wouldn’t want to put a ceiling on it but it would be pretty tough,” Kiffin said. “These guys have had so many reps of running our offense, he’s missed so much time. It would be difficult but you never want to count him out.”

Kiffin hopes Shields will be available to practice, although that has been a common theme throughout camp.

– When asked about players possibly in for tryouts, Kiffin could have said, “We’ve got some things going, but I’m not at liberty to say,” or something along those lines, because teams don’t often confirm tryouts.

Instead, (editorial comment to follow) Kiffin lent even more clarity to his current authority with regard to personnel when he said, “I have no idea.”

– OK, enough with the Darren McFadden as Jerome Bettis act. The end is apparently near, with the Denver Broncos on the horizon Sept. 8.

“All I can say on that is I have to continue to remind you guys that it’s preseason and you guys can figure out what that means,” Kiffin said.

– With Ricky Brown apparently having sewed up the job as strong side linebacker and Johnnie Lee Higgins looking to be the return specialist by default, the only real question left is starting center. Kiffin had Jake Grove in the lead last week, but said he may have information regarding a depth chart this week.

– JaMarcus Russell earned generally positive reviews for the third straight time. Russell went 14-for-28 for 140 yards, but missed out twice on potential touchdown passes _ the first when Zach Miller nearly came down with a ball in the end zone but was ruled out, the second when a pass into the back of the end zone glanced off the hands of Curry, who was being jostled by a defender.

On the Curry play, Kiffin thought it may have been worth a flag for defensive interference.

“He had one poor throw, the interception,” Kiffin said. “Other than that, he didn’t force things. He did well, especially under all the pressure he was under. He wasn’t back there setting his feet a lot. He had to move around a lot and made plays on the run.”

– Kiffin acknowledged that Fred Wakefield struggled when inserted at right tackle, where he played in place of Cornell Green for much of the second half.

– Safety Rashad Baker (ankle), cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (ankle) and safety Hiram Eugene (hip) could all miss practice Monday. Shane Lechler probably will not kick, meaning Glenn Pakulak may be retained on the roster through Tuesday cutdowns. Sebastian Janikowski could be available, meaning Aaron Elling could be seeking employment.

– Maybe “Super” Mario Henderson is the answer to the receiving woes. He lined up as a tight end on the left side, and was even announced as an eligible receiver. Michael Bush ran behind him to get a first down.

Kiffin said he was just giving opponents something to look at.

– In Oakland, Kiffin ran a two-minute drill for no apparent reason in the first half other than to get a look at it. He abandoned the run, went for a touchdown when normally would attempt a field goal and attached absolutely no significance to the supposedly most important week of the preseason other than the fact he lost two offensive players for the duration of the season.

Elsewhere, Tom Brady and LaDainian Tomlinson aren’t likely to play until the lights go on. Teams continue to charge full price for half-(bleep) games.

You’ll never hear me trashing Raider fans for failing to show up in August. It’s an instance where they’re showing their good sense. Even a lot of people buying season tickets aren’t bothering to show, because the 39,000-plus announced crowd was pretty much a joke.

The Raiders were offering up partial season ticket plans Saturday night, and seem to be actually making some headway in marketing which would really pay off should the team finally be worth watching.

Come up with a full season ticket plan in February that doesn’t include the preseason and then they’ve done something.

I know. Lots of money at stake. Can’t be done. Blah, blah, blah.

It’s never a bad thing to tailgate on a Saturday evening in the sunshine. But paying full price for the scrimmage to follow is an insult to the paying customers _ not just in Oakland, but throughout the league.

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  • Brien

    the saints gave up a 2nd and 5th for shockey…….they need a pick most definitely…….we need to trade for that guy pat kirwan spoke on this guy as well……he would help us big time

  • http://. Coach on Wheels

    The Black Clouds and Silver Linings

    BC – The Raiders lost their 2nd game in a row.
    SL – The Raiders outplayed SF (4 quarters), Tenn (4 qrts) and Arz (2 qtrs) in general this preseason. They did so when they were obviously not playing to win. The scores were meaningless.

    BC – The starting offense has scored only 1 TD in roughly 6 quarters of play. The red zone offense has struggled greatly.
    SL – Kiffin obviously tested red zone passing packages against Ariz when a run might have scored. Also, obvious regular season FG tries were not attempted in order to give the offense more work. Kiffin has obviously not opened up the playbook as evidenced by no Fades, Boots or othe red zone staples.

    BC – Russell looks like a rookie at times. He sacked himself 2 times versus Arz. Once by holding the ball way too long and his last sack he was slipping down at the top of his drop before the D got there. He has forced passes into double coverage. He has yet to connect on any deep pass.
    SL – JR may have auto-sacked twice but he escaped pressure many more times. He is mobile and if Oakland establishes the run, he can be deadly in play-action as his only TD drive showed. He had only 1 INT and NO fumbles which is huge. As Kiffin has preached, given the supporting cast he can be really good.

    BC – ONeal. This injury is by far the worst for what the Raiders want to do.
    SL – Griffith is a starter quality FB and does Wakefield want to add FB to his resume’?

    BC – Carter. The #2 guy is a double problem because Curry is a better slot #3 type. It hurts 2 players.
    SL – Despite the “castoff” label, the reality is guys like Carter would be bubble players on teams like NE, Indy, Cinn and so on. That means a cut buble player from a top team could easily come in and have the same potetial “castoff” Carter did.

    BC – The O-line gave up 4 sacks and many pressures.
    SL – Kiffin all but told the D in Arz “we’re passing” in the media and with empty backfield formations. He gave the D an advantage and told his o-line to handle it. Considering, they actually did well. This following a solid game gainst a top-tier Tenn D. With the threat of running plays, you can bet speed rushers will have to slow down or get gashed. Cable seems to be making a solid if not great line out of these guys. Provided they don’t have to pass every play – a big challenge for even the best lines in the NFL.

    BC – W R’s
    SL – Walker looked better and the RB and TE are solid. Remember, 1 solid WR is all that’s needed if you have a solid ground game and a receiving TE like Miller.

    Defense Breakdown later.

  • Kenny King

    It is preseason but good and bad signs are showing up. Russell is good. He does not give me the feel of so many of our other rookie QB. He makes many good decisions, shows ability to feel pressure, can escape and can run pretty fast. He throws very well too with good control and speed on the ball even at odd angles. With good coaching, reasonable calls and a functioning running game, he will only get better as the season progresses.

    OL was not so good but there was no running game to keep the D honest. If there was a running game, it would keep the D anchored and the OL performance would be better. In two of the sacks, the QB had quite a bit of time to throw and could have dumped off the ball to avoid loss in yardage. The OL has to protect, the QB can also help. Gannon did that well.

    Don’t forget how well the OL did against the Titans last week. I won’t write them all off. We definitely need to upgrade the OL when possible.

    Kiffin’s switch to passing game only is an excellent decision. The whole OL, TE, WR and QB have to work together in near-real situation so they can feel the timing and the coaches can see where all the holes are in game situation against a decent first-team. I hope they do more of this in Seattle to further jell the passing offense. Better to look horrible now in preseason so there is time to improve.

    The defense is sure looking better. There are still too many missed tackles on runs and a couple of passes. At least the first-team now is looking more aggressive and faster to the ball. Still, they really need to tackle and control pursuit.

    Special team is weak. Punt-return coverage tackling is poor and it does not close down run-back lanes well. Each punt return is a chance for an opponent to get a huge gain or a score. Kick-off return is much better.

    Depth is a definite problem, Kiffin did not have to say it so loudly. The first teams are looking good, but second teams are precipitously low in quality.

    TE Miller better stay healthy all year because the team will need him. There is no one WR who can do much of anything, it seems.

    Seattle game will be boring as heck, probably not worth watching. I wish Kiffin will change his mind and make the team do more in that final tune-up. if the second team is that bad, might as well let the first team jell more. The OL needs work, the WR needs work and this time, do some running to give the offense some continuity up and down the field. They will need it when the season starts.

    Play the D well too, let them clean up their tackles and pursuit angle miscues. Nothing like oiling the team to have it ready for the season.

  • KB

    Guys, give the fresh faces a chance before you cast them off as nobody’s. The back up receivers are all really good, just wait and see. Fix the O LINE first and formost or nobody will be able to catch a pass not even the great solution to are problems “JOE HORN”. PLEASE PEOPLE RELAX.

  • KB

    If Joe Horn is that great, why is he without a team. can anyone answer that? bet if T.O. OR MOSS Were avaliable they will get picked up instantly. If Horn, Robinson, and anyone else were any good they would be in someones camp even if it meant league min.

  • Bishop916

    Cooper cut! Bah!

  • Bishop916

    Coach on wheels delivers another bomb analysis. good job!

  • Seattle Raider

    Give Chaz more reps!

  • Ghost to the post

    Man bolt would sell some tickets… Fastest man on earth!!! could’nt be too much worse for the fourth or fifth spot…. Can you say “up side”?

  • darkknight01

    Move Wakefield or Darrell Strong to FB if necessary…

  • darkknight01

    Leinart picked 3 times and once by the guy we drafted ahead of him….Huff Daddy!

    Luv it!

  • ultraa5

    “Kiffin is playing right into Al’s hands by making these calculated statements about the inept roster management by Al Davis.

    If Kiffin keeps it up, soon the Al-loving portion of Raider Nation will turn on Kiffin for telling the truth about Al and then Al can fire Kiffin without as much of a fan backlash as he would have experienced back in January. Al will claim insubordination as grounds for the firing and refuse to honor the contract. Good luck trying to collect your money Kiffin.”

    why would he turn his team into an even bigger laughing stock by doing that?

    no one would go there, so “puppet” time; see; Jim Fassel or any other amount of retreads would be “drafted”….Davis has learned better from the Shell hiring….maybe he sticks with it…

    as for talent…Lawton was picked up…and there are some other picks…to watch for

    Ashley Lelie…played under Knapp at Atlanta, probably due to be released with emergence of Josh Morgan

    S Brandon McGowan…Raiders could watch closely or move Archuleta back to SS…McGowan fell out of favor, when Kevin Payne starting lighting up people at Chicago..

    LB Brandon Moore, although Ricky Brown won the SSLB position, Sam Williams and/or Jon Alston is probably gone…Marcus Wilkins and Cardinal Monty Beisel are good special teamers and so is Matt Stewart ..Cardinals have a log jam at LB.

    DT…stuck with Tommy Kelly…but Ted Washington (yes, at 40 is still around, and supposedly ready
    to play)

  • Thec

    test blog is broken, recieving errors on pages

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