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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

  • Andrews Mom

    More news is coming out about Hall last week

    He had a BBQ for Atlanta players and nobody showed.
    Then he went to the hotel and they didnt want anything to do with him.
    Then he tried to fight one of them in the tunnel.
    And he argued with coaches on the sidelines.

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    ding-a-ling I love it =)

  • http://! Blackholepriest

    What? what? who has seen practice to be able to make those comments. Jerry hasn’t seen practice since the preseason. And Russell is practicing well it’s when Sunday rolls around and he’s under pressure.

    Again I fully expected this from him, but I did’t know what the rest of the team would be like.I thought that we had a chance to be much better than we are.

    Russell is not the problem with this team, THE TEAM is not playing well which exascerbates his struggles. Make no mistake I’m not blaming Russell for our record or competence of the team. It’s just that right now we as a team need better play at QB than he’s prepared to give. And we have Walter who just might be exactly what the doctor ordered.

  • Andrews Mom

    Our coaches, not theres.

  • typicalraiders

    is andrew walters starting? if he is that makes the game a whole less interesting

  • Andrews Mom

    BHP

    You said

    “Russell’s accuracy issues are linked to timing and not enough reps under game speed. In practice he’s making those plays in game situations he’s not. ”

    I was just wondering how you knew accuracy was not an issue at practice?

  • Voldemort

    I hope Draftbustus breaks both of his legs today if he plays. That’s the only way this idiotic team will give themselves a chance to win. Do they think he will be better hurt or something? I supose it couldn’t hurt, he is theorst QB I’ve ever seen when healthy, so maybe with a hurt knee (or toe according to espn) he will be better? YEAH RIGHT! SIT THE OAF AND START WALTER IF YOU WANT TO WIN CABLE! Walter may not win today, because the Panthers are a great teamand we are a pathetic team, but I can assure you that Walter will not go out there and go 7 for 35 or 6 for 19 or whatever else pathetic numbers Draftbustus has posted. It is as se to impossible as anything for Walter to do as bad as that idiot. How’s this for leadership qualities…0 for 8 for -2 yards and 0 first downs? That was Draftbustus’s first half aainst the sorry a$$ dirtybird Defense. PLEASE SIT THIS RETARDED OAFY FOOLISH BUM!!!!

  • Andrews Mom

    TYpical

    Its a game time decision.

  • http://! Blackholepriest

    We’ll talk later. I’ve got something much more important to do. But suffice to say Sistabrown everyone is having problems on this team. Not just the defense.

  • typicalraiders

    i know for sure that andrew walters on his best day isn’t jamarcus russell

  • http://! Blackholepriest

    Players and coaches.

  • Andrews Mom

    If he starts, AW will move the ball and punch it in.

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    andrew walter NO S

  • Voldemort

    Blackholepreist is a dillusional fool and Draftbustus Russell has thouroughly earned his nickname. If you support Draftbustus at this point, you should be institutionalized, or you’re a Donkey fan. I bet the Donkeys love Draftbustus Russell!

  • Raider0525

    Blackholepriest, wow calm down, people are just talking in here. no offense to you but he just doesn’t look like he has it. Maybe and hopefully he will get it. Who can really blame him or anyone else on the team with all these distractions. Davis has once again fucced this team

  • Mistabrown

    BHP I see you’ve shelved “Ding a Ling” in favor of “retards” you’re a blogging legend in your own mind.

    Ok, you dont want to talk defense I can understand that. Rob Ryan – ditto.

    How does it feel to be the one idiot that trys to put lipstick on a pig every sunday ?

  • Senile Kings’ Aricept

    BHP,#339,…lol…I’m sure you remember Marc Wilson. Ugly interceptions aside, he seemed oblivous to backside pressure….With our OT’s….Walker is likely to get killed today…

  • typicalraiders

    the reason my is typical raiders is because

    rich gannon- fans “we want tui”
    rich gannon – fans kerry collins
    kerry collins fans tui
    aaroon brooks -”fans andrew walters ”
    then when andrew walters proved who he was for a whole season
    josh McCown fans cullpepper
    cullpepper fans mccown or jamarcus
    jamarcus idiots andrew walters

  • Andrews Mom

    Has anyone else heard something about JR being accurate in practice?

    I dont think I have heard that before

  • Mistabrown

    Andrew Walters?

  • Mistabrown

    The only thing I heard positive about Russell in practice is he shows up and can throw the ball 60 yards from his knees.

    Whoopty freakin doo

  • Andrews Mom

    Remember the last first round QB who was famous for that?

  • Voldemort

    Raider0525
    I completely agree with you that this whole mess is, once again, Al Davis’s fault. But the the drafting of the bust over Quinn or Calvin Johnson and Trent Edwards also must be included in the long list of things the power hungy senile old fool has F’d up. I believe his biggest mistake of all was firing Lane Kiffin, that guy made us competitors, now we’re right back to the pre-Kiffin ways, LOSERS, and it is 90% Draftbustus’s fault.

  • Andrews Mom

    Kyle “warm bench” Boller

  • Raider0525

    Voldemort, I agree with you 100%. Kiffin could of and will be a great coach.

  • Mistabrown

    Half way into the season Cable is going to split playing time at left tackle as if this is pre season and not 1 media person is blowing this guy up.

    Commitment to Excellence!

  • Mistabrown

    New thread

  • Mistabrown

    Link is busted just like our team.

    Commitment to Excellence!

  • Andrews Mom

    You made me look

  • Lynn from Snot

    We have turn stiles at the tackles what else can be done?

  • Mistabrown

    You’re 100% a jacka$s for this comment.

    # Voldemort Says:
    November 9th, 2008 at 8:36 am

    Maybe on our next road game the plane will crash and kill our whole team and all the coaches, and most importantly, Al Davis. That would be awesome. Something that drastic is our only hope of success in the near future.

  • Andrews Mom

    I hope Culpepper lights it up and beats the Jags

  • Mistabrown

    You can give ONE guy ALL the reps in practice and go with it.

    # Lynn from Snot Says:
    November 9th, 2008 at 8:36 am

    We have turn stiles at the tackles what else can be done?

  • Maryland Raiderfan

    Until we get a HC that is allowed to be a HC ala Jim Zorn, Sean payton, mike smith, etc and a gm like parcells, dimtroff and others we will be relegated to bantering about what the fix is to no avail. The fix is AL Davis stepping aside and only worrying about signing the checks!!!!!!!!

  • Lynn from Snot

    Culpepper will fumble at least twice today…… believe it

  • Voldemort

    Thanks for calling me a jackass Mistabrown. Everyone knows it’s true, I just said it.

  • Seattle Raider

    I hope we score more than 3 points

  • Lynn from Snot

    then play Henderson

  • Mistabrown

    #388 you’re welcome.

    Lynn, yes play Henderson or leave Harris in there but dont flip flop as if this is pre season football. You answered your own question.

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    4 our offence 2 work properly we need a brusing FB when OO went down that really hurt us,then Carter,then Dmac.Thats 3 big time starters and we’re still reeling

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    With OO in the backfield,Miller goes out

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    4 passes that is

  • Glutten for Punishment

    i hate going into every fukkking sunday hoping we wont lose too bad. i BLOWS to think that way.

  • Voldemort

    4evaRaider
    do you play Madden online on X Box 360? I saw someone with that name on there last night…

  • http://ibabuzz 4evaRaider

    F-U-K-K

  • Lynn from Snot

    Joseph gives us a little more depth this week god knows we need it.

  • Voldemort

    what we need is a miracle

  • Glutten for Punishment

    anyony play PS3 online?

  • Glutten for Punishment

    anyone! im lame

  • Seattle Raider

    Don’t forget Griffith, he was possibly better than OO