Lal has a big job in front of him


UPDATE: Raiders confirm six undrafted free agent signings. See bottom of story.

On the bright side, at least the Raiders haven’t brought back Jerry Porter.

Nothing against Porter, who did some good things as a Raider. But he could be tempermental, and that’s the last thing wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal needs as he faces one of the most daunting challenges of any position coach on staff.

Quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett has a huge job, molding and shaping the future of the franchise in JaMarcus Russell. But he can concentrate virtually all of his efforts on Russell and he’s got Jeff Garcia to help him. Hackett also has years of experience at the position, where he has long been considered one of the best teachers of quarterback fundamentals.

Lal is in his first season as an NFL position coach, having served two years as a quality control coach, which includes a heavy dose of doing video cut-ups. He replaces James Lofton, who was re-assigned without explanation one year after being hired by Davis for Lane Kiffin’s staff.

(Best guess? Lofton was too resistant for Al Davis and Tom Cable when it came to fast-tracking younger receivers).

Lal has climbed the ladder locally, serving as the the passing game coordinator at Miramonte High in Orinda, as an assistant at Los Medanos Community College in Pittsburgh, working on the staff at St. Mary’s and as an administrative aide for Jeff Tedford at Cal.

Now it’s Lal’s job to make sure Darrius Heyward-Bey is better than Michael Crabtree.

Heyward-Bey is only the fastest quarter-horse in the stable. Davis made it clear he thinks the world of Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chaz Schilens. Louis Murphy had a 40-time Davis couldn’t refuse and arrived in the fourth round. Arman Shields was a fourth-round pick last year who spent the year on injured reserve.

As for Jonathan Holland, Todd Watkins and whoever else the Raiders bring in to camp, good luck.

That doesn’t even include Javon Walker, who will be paid $4.6 million over the next two seasons unless he manages to get himself fired for “cause.”

It’s already crowded enough that Cable is leaning toward not bring in a veteran who could serve the same purpose with the wide receivers that Garcia is with Russell.

“Had Murphy not been there, that was definitely an option,” Cable said.

Someone like Amani Toomer, who has track record as a productive receiver and a good teammate, might have served the unit well. But it’s also true veteran wideouts aren’t always good mentors. They want to play, they want the ball.

When Jerry Rice failed to catch a pass in a game under Norv Turner’s watch, he went to Davis and said he wanted out. When Turner determined Ronald Curry’s development would greatly reduce the role of Tim Brown, Brown opted for his release rather to stay on as a mentor who occasionally would be inactive on game days.

Walker’s status remains in doubt in that he was declared healthy by Cable at the owner’s meetings and now suddenly was referred to as “getting healthy.” He’s apparently doing it on his own, away from the facility.

Assuming he is still around at training camp, Walker, whose practice effort was called out by Kiffin last year, will be one of Lal’s biggest challenges. Walker will hopefully be trying to get his own career jump-started and isn’t likely to mentor anyone.

That leaves it up to Lal and the receivers, learning together on the field. Luckily, from all indications, Walker aside, there isn’t a head case in the bunch, and even Walker is more quirky than moody.

“Can we overcome some of the youthfulness and all that?,” Cable said. “Probably not, but I think that’s the least of our worries right now, just in terms of getting more production there and better players there.”

Another Chris Johnson

The Tennessean reports the Raiders signed wide receiver Chris Johnson of Tennessee State as an undrafted free agent.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports the Raiders signed Oregon linebacker Jerome Boyd.

UPDATE: The Raiders announced the following signings of undrafted free agents on the transactions page of Raiders.com: TE Chris O’Neill (Boise State), DE Desmond Bryant (Harvard), LB Jerome Boyd (Oregon), WR Shawn Bayes (Kent State), WR Nick Miller (Southern Utah) and G Jonathan Compas (UC Davis).


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • RaiderLen

    Raider O, Friday! Beer! Pizza!

    All is well.

    At Home now talking with my wife and daughter.

    My son is at his girl freinds house.

    I love Friday’s and the weekend.

  • severeraider


    I would also like to keep Frantz, but who would he displace in the LB corps??? He would likely have to play out this year on the practice squad


    Lorenzo Neal to Oakland?

    Unsubstantiated Internet rumors are floating out there that Pro Bowl fullback Lorenzo Neal will sign with the Raiders, though no sources are cited and, for the life of me, I can’t tell where it started.

    After checking into it, because this is how the Jeff Garcia-to-Oakland scenario first popped up, a few interesting things came to the surface.

    I called a mutual friend in Frsno (finally, my lifelong Fresno connections have paid off at the NFL level), and he spoke with Neal (a Fresno State alum) last week. Neal told him and others he was in discussions with the Raiders.

    On top of that, a source within the organization confirmed he has been discussed as a potential addition.

    The move makes perfect sense. Oren O’Neal is back, but still recovering from major knee surgery. Luke Lawton is also on the payroll but isn’t considered an ideal starter.Tom Cable made a point to say after the draft that fullback needed to be addressed.

    Justin Griffith won’t come back because the two-year Raiders starter recently signed with the Seahawks. Remember, they signed Griffith in 2007 instead of Neal, who was a free agent, because former coach Lane Kiffin said Neal was not a fit for the zone-blocking run game.

    It looks like Tom Cable thinks different.

    Neal is a 16-year veteran and four-time Pro Bowler who is just one season removed from his last trip to Honolulu.

    He spent last season as a backup with Baltimore, where the running backs raved about his mentoring and leadership. Neal wants a 17th season in the NFL, and Oakland would allow him to return to his homestate where he played with the Chargers from 2003-07.

    If he signs indeed, he would be reunited with Raiders running backs coach Kelly Skipper, who was Neal’s position coach at Fresno State a very, very long time ago.

    If this move is going to be finalized, expect it before the May 8-10 minicamp.


  • RaiderLen

    Severeraider, Sam Williams? I’ve not studied the roster close enough yet to weed out my personal “cuts”

    My hope is that Frantz makes it impossible for the staff to cut him.

    I like the Young Mans skill set and energy.

    It can be contagious. 🙂

  • lefty12

    Len,i was thinking the same thing.also Alston.if he shows hope and is good on ST,he could replace either of those 2.

  • severeraider

    My least favorite pick is Slade Norris, I would have much rather have had Lawrence Sidbury aka Sid Vicious. He has more talent, more speed, and a greater ceiling.

  • RaiderLen

    If Lorezo Nealhas anything left in the tank, I’d prefer Him to Lawton as a stop gap to OO.

    I’d be shocked if OO were truly ready to play a full 16 game schedual this year.

    Think Tommy Kelly. But worse, regarding the recovery.

  • It’s way too early. But since I can’t post a mock draft, this my mock roster: lol
    QB: JR, JG, ?
    RB: DMC, Bush, and F”@$” Fargss FB: OO, MR
    TE: Miller, Rookie TE, Stewart/ Strong WR: Yavone, DHB, JLH, Chaz, and Murphy.
    OT: Mario, Barnes, Pears, and Green. OG: Gallery, Cooper, Paul, and Wilson/ Johnson C: Satele, wade.

    DE: Burgess, Jay, Scott, Shaughneddy, and 1 rookie.
    DT: TK, warren, WJ, and boschetti
    OLB: TH, Brown, Euk, Rookie, condo
    MLB: kirk, Joseph
    CB: Nnamdi, CJ, SR, miller, and Bowie
    FS: branch/ Huff, hiram
    SS: MM, huff/ Branch

  • lefty12

    if we were to sign Neal and OO gets healthy,wanna bet our goal-line running game improves dramaticly!!!!!

  • severeraider


    Sam Williams is as untouchable as Alvis Whitted used to be IMO. I want him gone but I’m not sure it will happen.

  • Len,

    The rookies are on the roster at our site.

    MM is # 34
    DHB 12
    Bryant 67

  • lefty12

    i should have said short yardage running game.

  • Len,

    Sounds like a great day.

    The rookies are here, the rookies are on the Roster.

  • RaiderLen

    Severeraider, The Norris pick was “from left field”.

    I don’t know enough about Sid Vicious to contrast the two.

    I just hope the Raiders are right.

    I did read something earlier today that talked about Norris being a great athlete.

    I hope so.

  • JB

    If the new LB prospects show promise, Sam Williams is history. True, he was a scholarship player with special protection from above but AD NEEDS to win soon while he’s still breathing. AD can’t wait on Sam Williams any longer. Sam Williams has HAD his opportunities and I don’t believe he’ll survive another go-round when young promising talent is available standing right next to him.

  • Jano and Lechler, and that’s 53. I think!!
    What do you think?

  • I like my Roster, you know!

  • lefty12

    Norris was a key player on an Oregon St. team that was one of the best in the country against the run and in total Def.it wouldn’t suprise if he own the starting outside LB job over Brown.

  • lefty12

    won not own

  • Jerry!!!!!!!!!

    Do your job Sir, and give me my fix.
    I need it!!!!!

    And why isn’t Joseph on the Roster or the transactions page??!!

  • RaiderLen

    Raider O,

    I want Shields on my final roster.

    Provided He’s healthy.

  • RaiderLen

    Lefty, I can envision Norris as the starter at some point as well.

    The guy is built “thicker” than R Brown.

    Looks to have a much stronger base.

  • RaiderLen

    Raider O, I’d also prefer that Burgess were traded and Gunhiem or some other take His spot.

    If He can’t be traded I hope we use him as a situational rusher…at RDE.

  • lefty12

    unfortunately i doubt we can trade Burgess or we probably already would have.the guy i have a big question about is Bowie.with Huff playing some backup at CB,will we keep 5 CBs?

  • RaiderLen

    Lefty,I think Burgess is here next year as well.

    If so, I hope He can produce.

    Bowie is virtually unknown.

    I think he’ll have to have one hell of a camp and preseason to make the team.

  • lefty12

    Len-he’ll get his sacks,but he is also a big reason our run D has been so ineffective.hopefully we’ll faze him out and make him a situational pass rusher-if someone can step up and beat him out(i’m talking to you J. Rich).

  • priesttj

    Sooner or later all this young talent is going to pay off and when it does the NFL(other teams) is going to pay.

    We could have atop ten defense next year. I’m basing that on the offensive firepower that we should be able to unleash on opponents. As well as the talent we have on defense with a much simpler attack.

  • lefty12

    if the Off. comes along like it should(i’m talking to you J.Russ) we shouldn’t need a top 10 Def. and i’m not sure we have the players to have one.that being said,a Def. that ranks in the teens would be great.don’t get me wrong,i’d love to have a top 10 Def. though.

  • RaiderLen

    New Post!