Five who need to step it up


With a five-practice mandatory minicamp looking Friday, a short list of veterans who who will need to step it up or be in danger of losing their starting job or roster spot:

QB JaMarcus Russell– What kind of shape is he in? How is he taking to being `mentored” by Jeff Garcia?

Coach Tom Cable has praised Russell’s preparation, but the underlying message has been the same _ we need more from you, we want more from you.

It’s lunacy to begin to affix a “bust” label to Russell after he played relatively well down the stretch, albeit in games dominated by the run. At the same time, the Raiders should expect a big jump in terms of his quality of play this year.

If that were to happen, the Raiders are legitimate division title contenders. If it doesn’t, then the scrutiny will be intense and Garcia will go from mentor to beloved No. 2.

It’s about time for the Raiders to break out an NFL-quality passing game. With good passing teams, the ball rarely hits the ground in non-contact sessions.

The turf in Alameda and Napa has been littered with footballs since the start of the 2006 season. The receiving corps is still very young, but there ought to be some improvement in Russell’s practice accuracy from last year to this year.

DE Jay Richardson–He’s had 22 starts in two seasons and his strength at 6-foot-6, 280 pounds is supposed to be at the point of attack as a base end. But Richardson too often fails to hold his edge or is pushed aside because he plays too high, resulting in rushing gains in his direction.

The Raiders made Matt Shaughnessy out of Wisconsin a third-round draft pick, and Greyson Gunheim, a practice squad promotion, turned some heads with his play in the season finale against Tampa Bay.

S Michael Huff–Rest assured Huff was dangled as trade bait, but his lack of production and a contract befitting the No. 7 overall pick in the 2006 draft made him untradeable. Teams realize if Huff is cut, they can bring him in at the minimum salary.

Cable has already identified Hiram Eugene, who started the last five games of the season, as one of the team leaders. The draft picks of each of the last two years, Tyvon Branch and Mike Mitchell, look to have the potential to provide the physicality lacking in Huff.

If undrafted free agent Jerome Boyd makes a good impression, Huff’s roster spot could be in jeopardy.

WR Javon Walker–The Raiders are on the hook for $4.6 million over the next two seasons, regardless of whether Walker plays or not.

It was about this time last year Lane Kiffin began expressing concerns about Walker’s conditioning. Cable is more likely to express those concerns to Walker in private. What is really on trial is Walker’s passion and love for the game. He had a legitimate reason to be distracted last year after he was beaten and robbed in Las Vegas.

With new flyers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy in the mix, along with Johnnie Lee Higgins and Chaz Schilens, Walker will either be pushed back into prominence or pushed off the roster.

DE Derrick Burgess–If form holds, this will be the last Burgess sighting until training camp. His roster spot is safe, because he makes a reasonable $2 million salary in the final year of his contract and pass rushers are hard to find.

A cynic would suggest Burgess will be good for 12 sacks in a contract year. Perhaps, but the bigger issue with Burgess has been his health. What the Raiders ought to consider is making Burgess a nickel rusher, keeping his snaps down, and trying to help him maintain optimum health by avoiding rushing downs against tackles who outweigh him by 60 pounds.

DHB profile

— Beat writer Steve Corkran wrote this story on Darrius Heyward-Bey in today’s Bay Area News Group-East Bay papers.

— If Terdell Sands tackled ball-carriers and went after opposing guards and centers with the same ferocity he went after Lane Kiffin in his local paper, he wouldn’t be referred to as an underacheiver.

Sands’ beliefs do serve to underscore the utter lack of drama which should make this year’s minicamps and training camps more conducive to putting a good product on the field in Week 1.

Last year’s Lane vs. Al show essentially had the Raiders as no-shows for the opener.

— Over the last few days I’ve been conducting interviews for a closer look at Raiders safety Mike Mitchell, the controversial second-round pick who elicited scorn from Mel Kiper Jr., an apology from Mike Mayock and was mocked by Cris Carter.

While checking in with people who saw Mitchell extensively and also prepared to play against him came this gem from Central Michigan coach assistant head coach and wide receivers coach Zach Azzanni regarding a hit against star wide reciever Bryan Anderson.

“We had a three-time All-MAC wideout, 6-foot-5, 210 pounds,” Azzanni said. “Mitchell just knocked the absolute piss out of him. I thought he killed him on the sideline. That’s how hard he hit.”


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • 4evaRaider

    I agree O,Cable has and will be standing up 4 a long time I hope

  • Bryant has the same size and #s as DE Mario Williams, but has a slower 40.
    I like him as a Base End.

  • Raiderwoj


    I think he stepped up, he went from OL coach to head coach of a downward spiraling franchise in the middle of a soap opera. He took a team with a 5 1\2 year losing attitude and actually got them to come out and play hard at the end of the season, win there last 2 when all they had to do was mail it in. And if you look at the previous 5 seasons compared to last season, which one was the worst when it came to overall attitude around mid season. Week 9 in Atl should have been the nail in the coffin for the season, but he actually got them to believe they could win, they beat Den, got spanked by SD and NE, then he STILL got them to consecutive victories to end the season.

  • centurionWR87

    I reckon we’ll go 7-9 this year…. i can’t see us making the playoffs tbh but i think as long as DHB and Walker play well and Russell improves then we’ll be set for a new start

  • Bryant is listed as a DL. Base Ends of that size like him can also play UT on passing Downs, due to his speed and ability to rush the passer.

  • Woj,

    Exactly, I agree.

  • TW,

    you had Oak singing for you!!!

    Dude, you crazy!! 🙂

    F@”$ Fargas!!

  • TW,

    Oak was singing !!

    Dude, you crazy!! 🙂

    F@”$ Fargas!!

  • Good morning NATION!!!!

  • TW,

    J O

  • 4evaRaider

    HEY 408 !!!

  • Raiderwoj

    If we could put 20 lbs on Fargas I think he could be best blocking FB in the league. Just tell him to act like he has the ball, and he’ll hit the 1st guy thru the hole like always, and McF or Bush can make the cut behind him.

  • I like what we did on D so far, we added a few tweeners who can help at the front 7.
    I still think we need a NT!!

  • 4eva….

    i dont work on cinco de Mayo…. 😛

  • exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    R.I.P. Dom DeLuise

  • Mad Road Dog

    Al Davis is the one that needs to step up. I will be a Raider till the day I die but Al Davis deserves the lambasting he gets because of his horrible draft picks and FA signings. He is the reason why the Raiders have been so bad over the years, his ego is more important to him than the team. Hey-Bey and Mitchell are good kids, good athletes and deserve better than what they got from the mediots but Monroe and Brace were bigger needs and smarter additions to the Raiders. The war is won in the trenches and Al continually ignores the quality of talent needed on the line to win at the playoff level. It does not matter what kind of talent you bring in at the skill positions as long as the lines are mediocre.

  • r8rpaver

    The thing that i like about the start of this year is..we have a returning head coach yes he had the interim term last year but he was still the HC, with 2 years of coaching for the RAIDERS under is belt,He was learning right along with the team last year and he made some misstakes but also learned from them..i also like him bring in Tollner and Hackett they are both TEACHERS and in my mind that is what makes a good coach.Both are older gentalman not trying to get another gig in college just wanting to teach.Add Marshall and Board to the mix and i think we have a good group of teachers and IMO is what our young group of kid need teaching and stability . Stability is #1 in my book.

  • centurionWR87

    I agree Mad Road Dog, i thought we should have snapped up Monroe 1st round and Robiskie Second round, Browns basically did what we should have done… O-line then 2 WRs in the second…

  • RaiderRockstar

    Mad Road Dog : excellent post #521

    teams should win BECAUSE of their o & d lines, not in spite of them …

    However, if McFadden & DHB become stars in this league and Glenn Dorsey & Eugene Monroe become busts there will be no complaints from Raider Nation!

  • centurionWR87

    But we’ll see what DHB, Mitchell and Murphy do before we judge them right?

  • RaiderRockstar

    i dont work on cinco de Mayo


    I wonder what Chad Ocho Cinco is doing on Cinco de Mayo?

    still trying to get traded? Jeremy Shockey was traded AFTER the draft last year …

  • Ryan

    I was just wondering who #3 would be. First it was Danny Gans, then Jack Kemp, and today Dom DeLuise.


  • RaiderRockstar

    you guys are going to hate me for saying this, but it’s going to happen …

    Shawne Merriman will be an Oakland Raider next year (2010)

    Every LB on our roster will be a free agent besides Isaiah Ekejiuba (who is strictly a ST guy) and the hybrid kids we drafted in Rounds 4 & 6 this year…

  • Raiderwoj


    he’ll only come here if they re-open balco.

  • RaiderRockstar

    what ever happened to Shawn Kemp?

    he was a beast for the Sonics & Cavs … from 1989 to 1999

    then he went to the Portland & Orlando and disappeared!

  • 4evaRaider

    new post

  • centurionWR87

    merriman @ the raiders, doubt it… would love it though! He’s a beast!

  • RaiderRockstar

    you guys can blast me all you want, but it’s going to happen!

    Shawne Merriman will be an Oakland Raider next year (2010)

    the dolts already had Jyles Tucker, Shaun Phillips & Stephen Cooper besides Merriman. Then they add Kevin Burnett from Dallas and Larry English in the draft. Merriman is in the final year of his contract …

  • centurionWR87

    But won’t he want to go to a team that actually has a chance of making the playoffs? Unless we vastly improve this year, i’m not sure Merriman would sign with us and even if he would, Al Davis wouldn’t go get him… its just too logical!

  • fggcisco

    Dhb won’t be a factor. No hands. If Russel plays well Higgins will be the guy. I see the Raiders going 4-12/5-12 same with Denver. The Raiders and the broncos had bad drafts. Kc will is on the way up but the west belongs To the bolts.