More from Friday’s training camp session following interview sessions with selected players and coach Tom Cable:
That the media was unaware of all surgical procedures concerning Raiders players is nothing new. Zach Miller’s procedure, for a sports hernia, came as a surprise to reporters.
Javon Walker’s knee procedure came as a surprise to the Raiders.
Walker missed practice because of a knee surgery to “clean up” existing problems, with coach Tom Cable telling reporters he hadn’t heard anything about it until recently.
“We found out a couple days ago,” Cable said. “Yeah it is a little bit uncommon, but we’re aware of it now and it was probably the right thing to do and get it cleaned up.”
After having Nnamdi Asomugha break up a potential reception on an in route from quarterback JaMarcus Russell, Darrius Heyward-Bey said he thought to himself, “All right, I’m not in college anymore.”
Said Asomugha: “Well, I haven’t met the kid yet. I didn’t even know what his number was. I knew that he came off, and you know, he’s young. There’s some easy giveaways right now. I’ll talk to him about that stuff. I just jumped it, me and Kirk (Morrison) went after it.
“I saw his eyes. He can’t give it away with his eyes but this was his first practice. I wasn’t watching him so I don’t know how well he did. But he has speed and speed is always a threat.”
— Miller said he started to feel pain last November and when he didn’t improve, opted for sports hernia surgery. He’ll likely be out another month at least.
— Cable said the reason Heyward-Bey was instantly put in with the first team was to push him, and part of that was giving him the opportunity to play against Asomugha.
“You’re going to get a guy who’s going to mess with you a little bit,” Cable said. “He’s gonna play off and play up, and he’s play up and bail out of there or play off and jam you as you come off. He’s gonna get the full gamut. I think that’s really good for a young kid.”
–Heyward-Bey got a thumbs up from Russell for his first day’s work.
“He had good, sure hands today. I saw him catch a lot of balls with his hands . . . some new guys, young guys use their chest. But all of their guys used their hands pretty good today.”
— Russell said he has missed a week of offseason activities following the death of his uncle but otherwise has been at the facility. He politely responded to a question regarding his commitment.
“When you have pride that you see you work each and every day and give it your all,” Russell said. “People can have their opinion on what’s going on but those guys are not with you daily so they don’t really know.”
Cable has stayed solidly in the middle where Russell is concerned, praising his progress while at the same time stressing he has a long way to go.
“He has to learn how to accept that and embrace that responsibility. Where is he at with that? I think he’s somewhere in the middle. Do I think he’s there yet? No, not quite,” Cable said. “He has some more things to do some more things to prove but we keep pushing it for him to be there.”
— Cable’s assessment of Russell’s practice performance: “He threw some deeper balls, some digs and things like that. Some deep hooks, He was throwing them on time. He really lit it up that way. I like where he is at. He has some things going on right now, he is just going to be getting better and better and better.”
I’ll have to watch today’s evening practice a little closer, because I missed any of the Raiders quarterbacks lighting it up. It looked like a lot of training camp practices I’ve seen over the years (minus the contact), with the good thing being that it’s only a minicamp practice in May.
— In Russell’s favor was that he wasn’t the quarterback when there were mishandled snaps _ and there were six of them, by Cable’s count. Those were split between Jeff Garcia and Bruce Gradkowski.
— Derrick Burgess missed the morning practice with the stomach flu, while center Samson Satele is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Wide receiver Arman Shields is having problems with the same knee which was surgically repaired as a college senior _ before the Raiders picked him in the fourth round.
Cable said Shields was “day-to-day.”
As for Andrew Walter, a no-show in optional activities this offseason, Cable said, “He hasn’t been part of the offseason program, and those other guys have. And that’s why you didn’t see him really get any reps today, ’cause they’re all prepared and ready to do this. And there’s been some change in what we’re doing offensively and so forth, so he’s got some catching up to do.”
— Safety Mike Mitchell received a pre-practice lecture from Cable about his lust for contact and will likely get another before the pads go on at training camp.
“This is your football team, these are your teammates, your brothers and you’ve got to take care of them,” Cable said. “Me and him have kind of had that discussion a little bit, ‘It’s time to go now. Take care of these guys, take care of these others and they’ll take care of you.”
— Asomugha’s reaction to the Raiders’ first two draft picks: “Surprised isn’t the word. Those guys weren’t really on the radar for me as far as guys that I was looking at. Because I thought that they were gonna go with some of the bigger names. But knowing Al, you can’t get surprised with that stuff. He always wants to find the gem, or that guy that no one’s really looking at, and he wants to develop them and see how they work out. So I wasn’t surprised at all. I just . . . I was a little confused a little bit at first.”
— Fullback Lorenzo Neal gives the Raiders the opportunity to take their time with Oren O’Neal, who at best will be ready for training camp but could conceivably be put on the physically unable to perform list and be brought back later.
Neal said he had talked to other teams, but got a call from Al Davis about joining Oakland. To put it mildly, he’s excited to be here.
“You bring that confidence that says, ‘Look, man, believe in me. Just get on my hip and don’t dip. Let’s go.’ Before you know it, you just start feeding it, it becomes an attitude, it becomes, hey, even if you’re not as good, you start making these guys believe that you’re better than you are,” Neal said after being asked about what he’ll bring to the Raiders.
“That’s what it is. You get off to a hot start, you start fast, you finish strong, and you get guys believing. The talent’s here. It’s about the opportunity. It’s about guys rising up and saying, ‘You know what, I’m going to make the change.’ Coaches coach, players make plays. Players got to make plays. When you’re lined up in your position, you got to do what you need to do. I’m brought here to help the offense get going, for the veteran leadership. You got a good group of backs in Fargas and McFadden. So, you just go in here and you say, ‘Look, come on, boys, we can do this.’ Get them to believe. These guys are eager, they’re hungry, they just want to be led. I feel like I’m the man for the job.”
Neal will prevail upon younger players to watch a little more film, be a little more prepared.
“It’s not just what you bring on the field but what you bring off the field, the intangibles and say, ‘Hey, look, guys, I’m going to be here on Tuesday watching film on my off day.’ It’s getting in the weight room working out, showing the guys, this is what has allowed me to play 17 years,” Neal said. “Saying, ‘Hey, guys, let’s go to meetings, let’s watch a little extra film, let’s not watch extra film, let’s lift some weights.’ Let’s do the extra things instead of saying, ‘Hey, you know what? On Tuesday I’m not going to come in.’ You win the game on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday. That’s when the game’s won.
“The game is simple if you know what to do, if you know your assignment. That’s the easy part. The game is simple. It’s about the practice, it’s about the attention to detail. It’s very imperative that you get leadership and you lead by example. So, I’m excited about it.”
— If there’s anything you want to know about Danny Southwick, the quarterback in camp on a tryout basis, you can check out his Web site.
I’ll have a report following the second practice later this evening . . .