By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, October 1st, 2008 at 4:11 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Quick hits from Wednesday’s post-practice press briefing with coach Tom Cable and interviews with available players:
– Other than failing to recognize he was supposed to break down a special teams huddle at the beginning of practice and seeming confused when stepping to the microphone at the end, nothing seemed indecisive about Cable’s first day as coach.
“Hold on a second . . . do I start this?,” Cable said. “Bear with me a minute.”
Cable was told that since he’s the coach, he can do whatever he wants.
“Oh, really?,” he said with a laugh.
– With systems of football already in place and a quarter of a season in the books, there will be no dramatic changes. One minor change _ the practice of running plays over and over until they get them right that sometimes extended Raiders practices by 20 minutes or more under Lane Kiffin has been junked.
“I will say this to you _ we’re going to stay on schedule. Practice isn’t going to run over. If it’s scheduled to be an hour and 35 minutes or whatever it is, it’s going to be an hour and 35,” Cable said. “We’ll get in, get the work done right and get off the field so we can go in, teach and learn, and get better that way.
“The work will be tempo, tempo, tempo, as fast as we can go and keep pushing that, because I just believe, if you play faster than the other guy he’s going to give up somewhere in that game, so that will always be our deal, to keep pressing them. So, that may be the only difference. If it’s 10 reps, it will be 10 and be done. If it’s 15, it’s 15 and get done. Whatever the situation is, we’ll hold true to it.”
– Rest assured that if Kiffin had to go, the offensive line is on board with Cable as the replacement.
“Coach Cable is going to be awesome,” tackle Kwame Harris said. “He’s done a lot for me, just playing my position since the start of this year. I think what people can expect out of him is a very straightforward, honest, sincere coach who loves this game.”
Guard Robert Gallery said the “tempo” theme was stressed immediately.
“Once we got to the team portion of it, the tempo was a little faster,” Gallery said. “He made that a point this morning that when get in a situation, JaMarcus has been here long enough, he knows it, and the faster we get in and out (of the huddle), the easier it’s going to be on game day.”
– Said Gallery of the “distraction” factor: “I think everyone was tired of hearing about it. I don’t think it was helping us to come in and hear about it every week.”
– It’s doubtful you’ll hear Cable talk openly about his team’s shortcomings the way Kiffin often did. While falling short of Joe Bugel’s memorable “multiple Super Bowls” forecast, Cable is talking about playing in January.
“We’re a good team, we’re going to run for the playoffs, and that’s our deal,” Cable said. “We’re not going to back down, and we’re not afraid to say that. Because you have to if you believe in yourself.”
– Justin Fargas is in his sixth season and is playing for his fifth head coach. So he can be excused for shrugging off Tuesday’s events as just another day at the office.
When asked if it was the strangest day of his Raiders career, Fargas shrugged.
“I don’t know if it was the strangest. It was another day,” Fargas said. “Just shows that change can come overnight and you’ve got to move on and do your job.”
– Fargas, who became a 1,000-yard rusher under Kiffin last season, was sorry to see him go but ready to move on.
“From what I seen and I felt, everybody supported Lane,” Fargas said. “We were happy to play for him. There’s just a situation that happens in this business and you have to be able to move on and, like I said before, do your job. But, nah, guys liked Lane and guys like Cable too. So we’re going to play for our head coach and it’s Tom Cable and we’re going to play for him.”
– Cable doesn’t want any stragglers. He’s not big on team rules.
“What I believe in is be early, we’ll get done early, and you’re going to play your guts out for each other,” Cable said. “That’s all that matters. Be where you’re supposed to be when you’re supposed to be there. That’s plenty of rules. We’re grown men.”
– The Raiders practiced in shells and Cable said the big emphasis was getting in a quick-tempo workout and getting people healthy during the bye week. Guard Cooper Carlisle (ankle) practiced and was limited after being inactive against San Diego. Cable said he thought Carlisle would be ready to face the Saints on Oct. 12.
Also limited were S Gibril Wilson (back), LB Isaiah Ekejiuba (shoulder) and RB Michael Bush (quad), none of which are considered serious. RB Darren McFadden (toe) and Fargas (groin) were out, as was TE Ben Troupe (foot) and T Seth Wand (knee).
Fargas said he expected to be ready to face New Orleans.
– The Raiders practice Thursday before taking the weekend off and returning Monday.
Sapp sounds off
Former Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp held nothing back in assessing the Raiders situation in his role as an analyst on Showtime’s Inside the NFL.
“I remember the first two weeks I was there, we played a pre-season game. Somebody came up one time and said, ‘We’re going deep right here, dog.’ I said, how do you know? He said, ‘The phone just rang.’
“All the preparation that goes into a week of work is there, the practicing that you have to put in order to do these things, sometimes he (Al Davis) messed with that part of it and that’s what kills you.”
On players signing on to play with the Raiders
Sapp: Nobody tells you how bad it is. I remember seeing Trace Armstrong after spending my four years there. I wanted to choke the life out of him. I wanted to kill him . . . and then Phillip Buchanon was there. I said, Phil, why didn’t you tell me this? I said, you all did wrong. Because any person that calls me on the telephone, (I tell them) do not go anywhere near Oakland.
On Lane Kiffin being fired, fair or unfair
Sapp: Way unfairly. He came in there with a change of mentality. The whole system. He changed how the locker room looked because it was going to take that kind of overhaul for Oakland to become the proud franchise we all knew it was.
On Al Davis
Sapp: He is the common equation. You take him out, put him at home watching film or whatever he is doing – you have a functioning football organization. But once he comes over the top, he goes and starts moving it around . . .
“Al Davis knows football – it’s just ‘60s and ‘70s football. That’s what it is. He’s thinking that Cliff Branch is outside and (Jim) Plunkett is dropping back and you can throw it 80 yards down the field – deep ball, deep ball, deep ball.”