By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, September 17th, 2008 at 7:28 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Quick hits from Wednesday’s late afternoon practice and media session:
– Not a great day for some of the Raiders most high priced investments.
Defensive end Tommy Kelly, recipient of an $18.125 million signing bonus in a deal which could reach $50.5 million, decided was arrested for DUI Sunday night because he didn’t spring for a driver. Kelly practiced and will face the Buffalo Bills Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Running back Justin Fargas, who cashed in with a $6 million signing bonus and a $12 million contract after breaking 1,000 yards last year, didn’t practice and almost certainly will not play.
Running back Darren McFadden, who got $26 million guaranteed, watched practice with his right foot in a boot because of turf toe. Coach Lane Kiffin said he believed that McFadden could have played if there were a game Wednesday, but it’s better in these cases to withhold judgment until he actually practices.
Left tackle Kwame Harris, signed during free agency to be the Raiders left tackle, missed practice with a knee injury after being inactive against the Chiefs. He’s probably 50-50 at best to face Buffalo.
Raiders wide receiver Javon Walker couldn’t complete practice because of his hamstring injury and his status remains in doubt _ as it has all season. Walker got $11 millon to sign, has a $1 million salary and may need to rally to receive his $5 million roster bonus in March.
– Kelly faced the music and spoke to the media regarding his arrest, although his sense of remorse didn’t overwhelm anyone. He had been out with some teammates and was driven back to his car, said he expected a driver, and when there wasn’t one, opted to drive anyway.
Kelly said he “probably” made the wrong decision and “severely doubts” it will happen again.
His message from coach Lane Kiffin?
“He was like, `You can’t take that risk. Don’t even do it.’ He understood,” Kelly said. “What you do in your off time you do, but understand teh risk your’ taking. It was a dumb decision on my own. If I could go back I would have probably just left my car at the hotel and got it the next day.”
– Whatever partying Kelly did wasn’t furnished by the team. There is no alcohol served on charter flights.
–Fargas said it seemed strange to be involved in so many violent collisions in between the hash marks only to be injured running by himself along the sidelines.
“Playing this week isn’t likely, but I’m not going to put a time or date on it,” Fargas said. “I’ll be back as soon as possible.”
– Editorial comment _ what the heck was Fargas doing split wide right in a passing formation anyway? He has the worst hands of anyone in the Oakland backfield. Even more ridiculous was that JaMarcus Russell saw Fargas had one-on-one coverage (you think?) and waved him downfield, hoping for a big play.
– The guess here, and it’s only a guess, is Fargas misses the Buffalo and San Diego games, then uses the bye week to rest up before being ready to go again.
– Turf toe can be a lingering issue, so the Raiders will be careful with McFadden. If he experiences pain against the Bills, Michael Bush could be in for 25-plus carries if the game is in doubt, because the remaining two running backs are block-and-catch fullbacks Justin Griffith and Luke Lawton.
“All the nervousness is gone now,” Bush said. “Last year, I was like, ‘man am I not doing something right or what was it?’ Now they throw the whole playbook at you. As long as I stay prepared and
keep going as I’m coached I’ll be fine.”
– If it were determined McFadden’s condition is serious enough to put him in doubt, Louis Rankin would probably be brought up from the practice squad and the Raiders would have to cut a player to make room.
– Walker’s inability to finish practice continues a trend in which the lead receiver has been unable for one reason for another to step up and assume his role. When asking if his continued absence has hurt, Kiffin was frank.
“Yeah, it has. Here’s the guy who was supposed to be the No. 1 receiver when he comes in,” Kiffin said. “Unfortunately he’s had some issues and he’s had the injuries, and here we go again.
“We’re warming up for the game Sunday hoping that he would get to play. He didn’t feel very good then. Today, he comes out, we talked bout it being a big week for him. He played well against Buffalo last year at the start of the year (9 catches, 119 yards).
“I started talking to him yesterday about it, about a big week, this team needs you, then unfortunately, halfway through practice, he can’t go anymore.”
– Kiffin said he has not been told he’s on the verge of being fired, nor has he been told the stories regarding his job status are incorrect.
“It’s someone else’s decision to make. We’ll just keep plugging along until we hear different,” Kiffin said. “The only thing that I don’t like is for our players, they have to deal with this and it’s a distraction. It shows a lot about our group because if you had some different guys, they could take advantage of the situation, all the stuff in the media and the paper, all the reports from our front office that there’s going to be a firing yesterday and today, all that stuff.
“They could take advantage of that situation. ‘We’re not listening to you. We’ve been told, according to the paper, from our front office, that you’re being fired. It’s just a matter of when.’ So, it shows a lot about our guys.”
– Former Dallas Cowboys Jimmy Johnson, who in the past has been a Davis supporter and confidant, was less than complimentary when talking about the Raiders when talking with Fox sports.
“I don’t know that there’s a lot of people who would want to work there. It’s a mess and it’s been a mess for quite some time,” Johnson said. “I just don’t know how anybody functions in that type of atmosphere. They do have some good young players and they showed that this past Sunday. I think eventually this team will be one to be dealt with but as far as being a coach there, being an assistant coach, being someone in administration, it really is a mess. I don’t know that there’s going to be a whole lot of people who would want to work there to be honest with you.”
Chances are Norv Turner gave his old boss in Dallas a less than stellar assessement of what’s going on in Oakland.