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Johnson will be a marked man

Opposing passers have approached the Raiders like a shooting gallery in arcade game, with the most inviting target being the cornerback opposite Nnamdi Asomugha.

The Carolina Panthers will be no different Sunday when they visit the Raiders at the Coliseum.

With Al Davis having given up second- and fifth-round draft picks and $8 million for eight games worth of DeAngelo Hall before determining he wasn’t even remotely the lockdown corner they anticipated, they turn to a 29-year-old minimum wage journeyman making his second career start.

“I’ve been waiting on this opportunity for five years,” Chris Johnson said.

An undrafted free agent out of Louisville, Johnson spent two years with the Green Bay Packers and never got into a game because of leg injuries. His most extensive playing time was with St. Louis in 2005, where he had one start and played in 14 games.

Signed as a free agent last year, two things appealed to the Raiders about Johnson. Johnson is fast _ so fast Asomugha believes he’s the fastest player on the team. He also plays special teams, with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in St. Louis, and has played as a gunner with the Raiders.

Not exactly the resume you’d expect for a starting left cornerback, let alone one who must hold up with a good amount of man coverage opposite Asomugha. Johnson will get a heavy dose of what coach Tom Cable called the best set of starting wide receivers the Raiders have faced this season in Steve Smith and Muhsin Muhammad.

Smith has 33 receptions for 613 yards and four touchdowns despite missing two games on suspension for going Romanowski on teammate Ken Lucas.

Muhammad had 37 recetpions for 507 yards and two scores. Smith is quick, elusive and is on anyone’s list of the five most difficult one-on-one challenges in the NFL. Muhammad is bigger, more physical and an expert in using his body to get position and screen off cornerbacks.

If form holds, the Panthers will take turns with both receivers running at Johnson repeatedly and Jake Delhomme will look to his right and away from Asomugha.

Sounds like a mismatch, unless Johnson is a rare late bloomer at a position where players have usually identified themselves by their mid-20s. A Dallas resident, Johnson spent a month of his offseason along with Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie working with Deion Sanders.

“You’d start at 7:30 in the morning, be on the field for a few hours, then be back at 2 and go until 3:30 (p.m.),” Johnson said. “(Deion) told me to be patient, that my opportunity would come. To have a mentor like that, the best corner to ever play the game in my opinion, is good for me.”

Back to basics for defense

Sounds like there’s been some confusion on defense, and getting ripped for three early touchdowns and 57 carries for 252 yards against Atlanta brought about some changes, according to defensive tackle Gerard Warren.

“That game exposed one of our basic techniques and pretty much that’s what we’re focusing on _ simplifying the defense,” Warren said. “Maybe things were a little too complicated as far as the game plan, so we simplified things. Obviously the defense didn’t mature in the sense that Rob wanted it to. We have to scale it back down.”

Billick: Al needs some help

During an appearance on Dan Patrick’s radio show, former Ravens coach and Fox analyst Brian Billick said as gently as possible what is becoming increasingly obvious to anyone who has watched the Raiders disintegrate over the last five-plus years.

Davis needs help, and more important, needs to let someone help him. Patrick asked Billick if it would be wise for Jim Harbaugh to leave Stanford for the Raiders.

“The Raiders and Mr. Davis, who is an icon in this industry, need to find someone to partner with to rebuild a very proud franchise. It’s going to take a very special relationship, and I mean that in the sincere sense _ a partnership. I’m not sure who that partner is. Maybe that’s Jim Harbaugh, I don’t know. That’s for Mr. Davis to decide if indeed that’s the direction they want to do.

“But this next relationship does have to be a partnership because there are going to have to be some very hard decisions and some very hard action that is going to have to be taken, and it’s going to have to be done with a partnership. It can’t just be one-sided.”

Parting shot

Spare the faint praise for Davis realizing he made a mistake and then cutting his losses with Hall.

Bringing Hall in was an organizational disaster and cost the Raiders a potentially solid player with the second-round pick they traded away, all for a cornerback who couldn’t play the very technique on which Davis bases his entire defensive philosophy.

It was common knowledge Hall was not a good man-to-man defender, that he gave up too many completions, and that his best work was done breaking on plays out of a zone.

No matter. Davis had visions of Haynes-Hayes II, when what he’d really done was deal for a glorified Phillip Buchanon (who by the way has developed into a solid Cover 2 cornerback in Tampa Bay).

The reality is this _ with defensive backs having been restricted to a five-yard bump zone, playing man-to-man in modern football is much more difficult than it was in the Raiders’ glory years, and even more difficult is finding players as talented as Asomugha who can do it successfully.

Among the players who would have been available to the Raiders with the No. 34 pick which was dealt to Atlanta are the two most productive rookie wideouts in the NFL _ Denver’s Eddie Royal went at No. 42 and and Philadelphia’s DeSean Jackson at No. 49.

Or they could have had linebacker Curtis Lofton, a solid starter for Atlanta who was selected at No. 37.

Note: In earlier blog I wrote the Falcons took Lofton with the pick they got from the Raiders for Hall. In reality, they used that pick to trade up into the first round and take tackle Sam Baker and selected Lofton with their own choice.

(I’ll entertain the argument that these players wouldn’t have necessarily developed with the Raiders as they did with their respective teams).

Found it amusing that Cable would go out of his way to say Javon Walker, who received an $11 million signing bonus and $1 million in salary, has “elevated his game” of late. Chances are that vote of confidence came from Davis, who is hoping Walker can salvage what looks to be another questionable decision on a player no one else was willing to pay that kind of money.

We’ll see how elevated Walker’s game is when that $5 million roster bonus comes due.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • http://contracostatimes No More Fargas

    I dont want to hate on Jamarcus but watching him play even if he play to his full potential i see him as a poor mans culpepper without the speed. I know he has only stared a handful of games but what improvements has anyone seen. Of course its hard for anyone to look good with this o-line

  • Ajoakraider

    make me leave punk

  • http://www.wineandpills.com Norco_Bob

    AJ leave or Im getting the mods on you,..you are the typical honky racist scumbag we dont need in here…racist bastard,..LEAVE AJ!!!

  • Ajoakraider

    if u hate russell and the raiders so much why do you blog hear

  • http://www.wineandpills.com Norco_Bob

    hear or here?…lol,..man you are as dumb as russell!!!!lol…AJ you are a loser.

  • Ajoakraider

    but we need u right punk Naro bastard

  • Ajoakraider

    Ill be at the game tomorrow i’ll meet u in the parking lot
    punk ass

  • Bench JaMarcus

    I’m confused … how come when a rookie white QB does bad he is benched quickly but when a rookie black QB does bad … the answer is get him a chance he’s still learning, bad OL, poor playing calling … excuses, excuses.
    Go Walter Go … who needs JaMarcus Leaf.

  • Ajoakraider

    I’m from east oakland so i’ll be close bye so i can shut u up. thats what we do where i’m from since u like to talk and all

  • http://www.wineandpills.com Norco_Bob

    goin after russell with a vengeance!!!!!

  • Ajoakraider

    anyway we’ll shock the world tommorrow no one expects us to win. hopefully r running game is good to go

  • http://www.wineandpills.com Norco_Bob

    Aw,..is poor little AJ all mad now?….lol,…oh please,…man I messed with the wrong tough guy in a blog,..ooooh nooooo….lmao…thansk for laugh AJ….loser,..you live in east oakland?…that confirms you are a loser.

  • Seattle Raider

    #21 on Steve Smith aaaaaaaaaaaal day long

  • http://www.wineandpills.com Norco_Bob

    Im outta here,..AJ, goodnight you loser scumbag from the ghetto.

  • Ajoakraider

    actually i’ve been in the military for the last 14 yrs
    and military people r definitly not losers we protect your
    freedom. so u can talk the mess u do. Retard

  • Seattle Raider

    (like Kiffin ) “I’m out”

  • http://www.gayraiderfan.com Gay Steve

    Good evening fans!!!

  • http://www.gayraiderfan.com Gay Steve

    RAIDERS WILL WIN TOMORROW.

  • http://! Blackholepriest

    So after 8 starts Russell’s a bust and will never make it as a starter?? huh??

    So when he starts making plays and winning games, what will you say? I remember reading the same stuff about Justin Fargas, JLH, Gallery and so on. Tyler Brayton was the worst 1st rnd pick in history. Jerry Porter couldn’t start on any other team in the NFL. Jake Grove is garbage.

    Talk is cheap especially when that’s all you can do.

    Russell is a very young QB trying to catch up to the speed in the NFL, simple as that, no more no less. AS soon as DMC is healthy and the timing between QB and WR’s improve he will be just fine Also the running game must get back n track first and foremost. The best friend of a young QB is a running game. Lately he hasn’t had one.

    You guy’s are a bunch of fickle fans who jump ship at the first sight of trouble. If you ddn’t know Russel would struggle that’s your fault. Because it was inevitable. Just as his development is and in time you’ll see it.

    It’s obvious that lost of you couldn’t wait until this happened so you could jump all over him, well jump now because you only have a short while. And then you’ll start eating all your words.

    I challenge all of you Russell haters to repost your comments when he’s starts playing well so the rest of us can see who YOU REALLY are.

  • gilbert

    norco bib,I think Most of us will give JRuss time,because it takes time!If Walter plays ,ill be pulling for him as well

  • BDUB

    These blogs are pretty intense, all of this finger pointing, name calling, excuse making gibberish. Its seems that all of these blogger are either politicans or actually work in Alameda at the Raider complex..hmm…hahaha…

    I thought it over and I came to the conclusion that Jim Harbough will be our next coach and AD will give him the power he did Kiff. when he hired him. You know the actuall ability to have an influence in personal decisions. And our raiders will start anew again. The biginning of November begins the holidays, snow, the midseason of America’s sport (nfl) and for me (or us) a mandatory longing for Feb. the end of this NFL season and the dawn of a new one… One full of new coaches, players, a new regime full of change and opportunity. (wow– I am sounding like a politician now).

    To this 08′ season. To the 3 games I sat in section 312, to the jano. kick in ot, to the 300+ dollors I spent on gear, to the chicken and beer, to the dominoe games, tailgaiting and to hopes and dreams of this season.

    To this season goes the bullet… Good bye 08′ Hello Feberuary!

  • dorco bob’s buffoon squad

    Dude this blog sucks now, what the hell happened?

  • BDUB

    Hey, I like my blog- but I should have joined earlier–I would have liked to stir the pot abit

  • Just sell Baby……..

    Al Bundy Davis
    The laughing stock of the NFL !!!

    Just sell baby……………….and so it is !!

  • Andrews Mom

    Good morning to everyone here at Rag On the Raiders chat room!!!!!!! This place is more like a chat room then a blog.

    I am so excited this morning. My boy might actually start. Someone was afraid Peppers would ruin JR’s life. So they will let a man they dont care about take the punishment.

    Well, I have news for those clowns. AW will have a great game. If Andy started every game this year we would be 4-4 and in the playoff hunt.

  • Andrews Mom

    I am not ready to claim JR a bust yet, but I keep thinking of the last QB who could throw 60 yards from his knees.

    Anyone remember who I am talking about?

  • ???

    Um Ok Dumb question where does it say walter is officialy starting?

    Dont get me wrong I like the guy but the teams problems on offence go way beyond Russell.

    I think his growth may ave been slowed last yeae because of his hold out.

    But not sure he would be any better now if he was on time to camp his rookie year.

    The O line has regressed this year in particular once TC took over has the head puppet and the long and short of it is when he does have enough time to make a good decision on who to throw it too the WR 9 tmes out of 10 drops the flippen ball.

    Factor all that in Walter aint going to do any better with this offensive unit.

    Same goes for Brady Quinn and Matt Ryan.

    Put Russell behind a good solid O Line with at least decent recievers and a healthy Darin Mcfadden then if he Russell fails under thoes conditions then call him a bust.

    One thing he does need to work on though is his touch in the red zone but thenagain maybe if they actully got there more often he would get better at that.

    As for next years Hc JH? If your smart stay at Stanford. Our Franchise player? Well unless the team shows major improovement next year. Assuming he is tagged again. Get the hell out if your smart lol.

  • ???

    Interesting they finally waived Wakefield and activted
    Greyson Gunheim Well welcome to hell and good luck rookie you are going to need it. :)

  • bank-bank

    This blog doesn’t suck.our Raiders suck and it’s Al Davis fault.It’s still Als fault.If our Raiders were a competitive legit playoff team then this blog would have alot more positive bloggers.We are Raider fans we are passionate about our Raiders.I totally understand,Frustration is being released every day on this and other Raider blogs because we love our Raiders.This will continue to happen until Al Davis comes out of his coma and does the right for a change!!!

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    post 120 Heyward-Bay hands down.But I feel we need DT OT MLB 1st

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    Good Morning NATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If we can “somehow pressure Dehlomme” oh never -mind .But if the cutting of Hall makes sands play the DT position like its supposed 2 be played,well who knows,I’m always hopefull 4 a win

  • Andrews Mom

    This blog does not suck?

    lol

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    well if this blog sucks,I guess we’re all suckers =)

  • ???

    Ok Fine I stand corrected I just saw the thing On NFLN saying Russell wont play.

    But that dont change my point any in post 278.

    Walter aint going to do any better then Russell because he still has to play with the same crappy offensive line and recievers.

    The only thing he might do a little better at this point assuming he aint having to drag his ass up off the grass on every play is show a little more touch in the red zone assuming they even get into it.

    Russell makes the same mistakes most first year starters make they are just magnified because the te supporting cast around him is either hurt or not living up to its potential or both.

    The worst thing Davis could have done was change coaches after the season started. He should have made the change back in march during the up coming off season or not at all.

    But not during the season that almost always turns out to be all bad.

    Look at the history leauge wide of teams that make coaching changes after the season starts. It sucks.

    One of the few exceptions was Art Shell in 1989 7W 5L

    Then they get stomped by the bills a year later in the AFC Championship.

    But it was a differnt game back then the Deffence they played worked back then.

    as for the Offence well they had Bo Jackson and a still productive Marcus Allen. The O Line could also keep the QB Up right and The WR’s were competent even if they were not great. Not to mention because the O line was not real bad they could throw the ball to the tight end which has always been part of a decent Raider offence rather they were in Oakland or LA the only exception was maybe under Gruden.

    But ok I saw it on TV looks like Walter will start but dont expect much Not with the tools he has to work with.

    Also keep in mind there was one game last year when Mclown was supposedly out and then game time rolled around he started. Also up until that fiasco last week Russell has looked much better at home for the most part. The team has has a whole except against Dever maybe even in that game Russell was ok considering he had nothing to work with. Ok now iam done. :)

  • Andrews Mom

    Its not the info, its the unregged trolling that makes this place suck.
    Especially because anyone can “post” as anyone else.

    But I am not in favor of changing it now, Its too late.

  • Andrews Mom

    ????

    nice blog, I just think Andrew is much better then you give him credit for.
    We will move the ball today and it will make all the difference in the world.

    Go Andrew!!

  • Andrews Mom

    AW starting might just be a smokescreen to “fool” the Panthers, but I doubt they will prepare any different for Andrew then they would for JR.

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    you must be proud Andrews Mom =)

  • bank-bank

    Hey Great Raider Fans of America,Im frustrated also but honestly some quarterbacks need more time than others.Eight professional football games is not enough time to measure a quaterbacks play.Sorry,it just isn’t.Lets be fair and drop the frustration for a second.J.Russells career so far has had to deal with constant chaos A stubborn old owner,constant coaching changes,Al Davis,bad signings,Al Davis,a non-caring stubborn owner who doesn’t care about his team fans,constant backstabbing with coaches and players,a disfunctional atmosphere,and I can go on and on what the ROOKIE Raider quarterback has gone through so far in his EIGHT game professional football with our Raiders.No one should be so lucky.It’s not J.Russes fault that he plays for a playoff bound Raider football team.Believe that and you’ll believe anything.Al Davis is the Main Problem because he created this MESS in which no ROOKIE QUARETRBACK can succeed.How would YOU like to quarterback for this Raider football team coming out of college.You think you can do better under the current circumstances that J.Russ is under now.No Way its almost impossible for any quarterback to succeed under these current Raider circumstances.IMPOSSIBLE!!!!!!

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    you can take that 2 the bank

  • Andrews Mom

    lol 4eva

  • Andrews Mom

    How about them Red Raiders!!!

    I thought OK would whup em after TT’s big game with Texas and because OK has a great running game that was suppose to keep TT off the field.

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    alright AM !!! those Red-Raiders are 4 real!!!

  • Andrews Mom

    How about them homos rioting?
    Good thing they are picking a fight with whitey and his church. I would love to see the homos march on mexicans and blacks.
    They would get close and throw their birkenstocks and run like hell.

    And the media said it would be blacks.
    Those preconcived notions will get ya everytime.

  • Andrews Mom

    I would love to see them win out and play Florida in the bigbowl.

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    Texas-Tech plays Oklahoma next in Norman OK,think they can handle it AM!!!!

  • Andrews Mom

    Actually theres no way I can see them beating Texas, OKS and OK in three straight games but after what they did yesterday I would say they kick OK’s arse.

    Probaly go down in history as one of the greatest teams in history if they manage to win out.

    I bet Al is licking his chops thinking about getting Crabtree and his coach!

  • Andrews Mom

    Norman is a very hard place to play at especially when its mind numbing cold as it often is this time of year

  • Andrews Mom

    Has any team in history beaten three straight top 10 teams?
    Texas was #1
    OKS was #9
    OK will be #5

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    I dont know sorry.Dakota might know,EXLA should know =)