Part of the Bay Area News Group

Practice snapshots

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 2:07 pm in Oakland Raiders.

A few highlights and notes from Friday’s minicamp practice before Tom Cable addresses the press at 2 p.m.:

– Solid first practice from first-round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey, although he was taken to school on one route by cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha. Asomugha said later Heyward-Bey had telegraphed the play with his eyes. Heyward-Bey said he looked forward to more chances to compete against the best.

Heyward-Bey looked smooth and natural catching the ball in drills against no defense (thankfully). His best play in a team session came on a deep sideline route in which he adjusted under an underthrown pass from Bruce Gradkowski and hauled it in some 40 yards downfield over Darrick Brown.

It was the kind of play a football player makes, but a sprinter doesn’t.

– The Day 1 starting offensive line for the Raiders: Mario Henderson at left tackle, Robert Gallery at left guard, John Wade at center, Cooper Carlisle at right guard, Cornell Green at right tackle and Tony Stewart at tight end.

The backfield and receivers on the first snaps were Chaz Schilens and Heyward-Bey at wide receiver, JaMarcus Russell at quarterback, Darren McFadden at running back and Luke Lawton at fullback.

– The second team offensive line was Khalif Barnes at left tackle, Mark Wilson at left guard, Chris Morris at center, Marcus Johnson at right guard and Erik Pears at right tackle.

– The offense, with passing game coordinator Ted Tollner, didn’t look much different than it did in the early days last year, although keep in mind the Raiders aren’t layering in everything on Day 1.

Lots of rolls and reverse rolls, lots of short passes over the middle to tight ends. Not much downfield. Receivers for the most part were sure-handed, although Stewart had an outright drop.

– Russell did little of consequence in team sessions in the passing game, mostly throwing short and playing it safe. His first medium-range throw went high and way outside toward rookie Louis Murphy, with Tollner crediting the rookie for his route and telling him the pass was offline.

On the seven-on-seven play in which Asomugha read Heyward-Bey and broke up a pass, Russell’s ensuing pass misfired to Johnnie Lee Higgins in the deep middle, with Stanford Routt defending.

Russell did have a nice touch on a sideline throw to Jonathan Holland some 20 yards downfield.

– Snapshot of backup quarterback Jeff Garcia _ can’t execute a deep range out pattern on one throw, then hits McFadden out of the backfield with a feathery touch on a swing pass on the next.

– Friday’s practice saw linebacker Ricky Brown, who had offseason sports hernia surgery, getting his snaps at middle linebacker rather than strong side linebacker.

– Jon Alston got reps with the starters at strong sidelinebacker, along with Kirk Morrison in the middle and Thomas Howard on the weak side. The starting cornerbacks were Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Johnson, with Hiram Eugene and Tyvon Branch at safety.

With Derrick Burgess out, Trevor Scott was at left end, with Tommy Kelly and Gerard Warren inside and Jay Richardson on the right.

– Warren deflected a Gradkowski pass which was intercepted by Howard, with a defender chirping about the “small-ass quarterback.”

– Plenty of nice running plays by McFadden, Justin Fargas and Michael Bush, all getting relatively equal work, against defenders that aren’t allowed to hit or tackle.

– Draft pick Stryker Sulak of Missouri was playing with his hand down as a defensive end on both sides, but there could be plays in which he eventually plays as a linebacker, he said. Slade Norris worked as a strong sidelinebacker with non-starting units.

– Andrew Walter got little to no work in team sessions behind Russell, Garcia and Gradkowski.

– No sign of the “other” Chris Johnson, the rookie free agent wide receiver who was reported as signed by the Tennessean. Johnson, the cornerback whose signing was never announced, was of course on the field and playing.

More to come later after Tom Cable’s press briefing and lunch break . . .

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  • RaiderRockstar

    DMunoz26 post #45

    I agree. I don’t want to hear about how Russell can’t complete passes to the WR corps because Asomugha & CJ are so awesome in pass defense.

    I want to hear about how much he’s progressed this offseason and how amazing it is that he’s able to complete passes against the NFL’s best CB tandem

    so DHB dropped one and Stewart dropped one. what about all the other incomplete passes from Russell?

  • Marcofromda510

    Just a side note, im as pleased to read the positive info from the camp as anyone else, but don’t get too carried away. Its the FIRST mini camp practice, no pads. Just shorts and helments. But so far a good start. Can’t wait for training camp. Welcome to the silver and black Ms.Neal, I hope you get a chance to get reaquantied with Ms.Merriman this season.

  • Raider-405

    Another thing I am curious about is JLH. Not too mention of JLH and going into his 3rd year like Russell it will certainly be a make or break year.

    He has done everything you would love to see and everything equally as bad to where you would cut him after the game.

    Higgins has the speed and the moves, but hopefully something flips a switch and he get’s ‘it’ because he is the ideal NFL slot guy and return man.

  • edward teach

    Idiana… yeah, I like that one, too. There’s also a good one of him adjusting on a ball and making the catch.

    jaMarcus doesn’t look fat to me. Cable does, though :)

  • 17 Bob Trey O

    At least Russell looks under 300 lbs.

  • JUSTautumnWINd

    Wait, where’s Paul McQuistan? I thought he’d be the second team LG, not Wilson.

  • ottocrat

    Damn, Lorenzo Neil is 38! I had no idea. Oh well, hopefully he can last at least half a season while Oren continues his rehab.

  • http://www.elvis.com Elvis

    Don’t be cruel bloggers…

    To that mod/troll when she is on her period because she can get very angry and boot people for selfish inadvertent reasons other than (racial slur derogatory comments patronizing other bloggers).

    If you see posts left up that still contain racial slurs and flat out foul language and then a posts gets deleted for no justifiable reason it makes you wonder?

  • Nnamdi21

    54. Ha!

  • Nnamdi21

    Have a great day Raider bretheren!

  • DMunoz26

    # 17 Bob Trey O Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    At least Russell looks under 300 lbs.
    ______________

    Being under 300lbs doesn’t count for nothing if he can’t hit open receivers. His accuracy is starting to become a big issue when he is flat out missing guys in non contact drills. Nobody is touching him or the WR there is no reason he should be missing them.

  • IndianaRaider

    a half strength Lorenzo Neil is still better than a 100% Luke Lawton or someone who has yet to play his first NFL game, our running game looks that much better already.

  • http://justwinbaby! 909RaiderLifer

    Jerry Mac…

    The ONLY excuse you have for anything longer than a 60min. lunch break, is IF your at the local dive knocking back a couple of cold ones. After all it is a Friday.

    90mins. Max. then back to work, Jerry.

    Why didn’t Yvonne inform the TEAM, of her knee surgery until a coulpe of days ago?

  • BUSH29willtranscendDMAC20

    thanks 46.

  • Jim Morrison

    I really don’t like reading Jerry’s mini camp coverage. Jerry is to sports writing what Stu Sweigart was to playing safety.

  • jhill

    Ricky Brown at MLB is not a surprise. He plays mush more physical that Morrison. Actually, I’m rooting for him to beat out Morrison at that position.

  • holla4LosT

    BOMB-BEY,

    Prove em wrong!

  • IndianaRaider

    Jim Morrison Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    I really don’t like reading Jerry’s mini camp coverage. Jerry is to sports writing what Stu Sweigart was to playing safety.
    ==============================================

    lmao, kind of harsh but I see the point

  • edward teach

    Indiana… agreed about Neal. The guys seen pretty much everything there is to see in the NFL, and with blocking as his primary responsibility he will be the most capable of blocking the right guy at the right time in both the running and passing games.

    I think he’s a great addition, and I don’t care how old he is if he can still do the job.

  • BUSH29willtranscendDMAC20

    Damn Bomb-bey eh??? I like it sounds good, also looks good in that silver/black

  • IndianaRaider

    my only concern on Neal is I pray he isn’t like last years Drew Carter and gets hurt before the start of the season. If he can stay healthy, there is no reason we can’t be a top 5, if not a top 3 rushing team this year.

  • SnB Defense

    JHill,

    No way Morrison gets beat out by anyone…he has the coverage skills coveted by Al Davis and makes enough tackles that he will maintain his position. I don’t see an Undrafted Free Agent or Ricky Brown pushing him out of the position. There might be a desire for more physical play…but I think Morrison has also been issued a Ryan Holiday along with the rest of the defense…except Huff.

    Of course…Jasper Brinkley would have been a nice add to push him….but that over and done with…

  • Marcofromda510

    Who said javon didn’t notify the team? The team doctors were the ones that probably reccomended the surgery. Also lay off the off pass. Anyone who’s ever thrown a football knows that the slipps away some times when your in the process of passing it. As long as it isn’t a consistent reoccurance, nothing worry about, just a bad pass…

  • DMunoz26

    # Marcofromda510 Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Who said javon didn’t notify the team? The team doctors were the ones that probably reccomended the surgery. Also lay off the off pass. Anyone who’s ever thrown a football knows that the slipps away some times when your in the process of passing it. As long as it isn’t a consistent reoccurance, nothing worry about, just a bad pass…
    __________

    It is a common occurance with jamarcus thats why we are talking about it.

  • Pingback: Twitted by acrosstic

  • 4evaRaider

    Jmac struggled ALL year with “those” lil passes.WTF Jmac??? Come-On-Now!!!

  • jhill

    Morrsion doesn’t fit the mold of any MLB in Raider history SnB.

  • edward teach

    Indiana… one could say the same thing about any player, but not bringing someone in because you’re afraid they might get injured limits your selection of players by about 100%.

    Anyone can get hurt. Neal’s been pretty durable (even since his major neck injury, and that was awhile ago) and effective throughout his career and he definitely upgrades our fullback position. A no-brainer, in my view.

  • IndianaRaider

    DHB has said it over and over that he doesn’t care what the critics think. If Cable was smart, he’d play this clip before every game and practice for that little something extra.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jUgA_SsFSI&feature=related

  • SnB Defense

    Russell has caught more heat than any young QB I have ever seen.

  • RaiderLove

    67. I like that better. You got my vote.

  • 4evaRaider

    Yep this is why Fargas played over Dmac&Bush,he can protect Jmac.Now with this great signing of Neal we should see waaay more Dmac&Bush

  • SnB Defense

    jhill Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 3:16 pm
    Morrsion doesn’t fit the mold of any MLB in Raider history SnB.
    =======================================================
    All I have to say is “Back 7″

  • edward teach

    SnB… agreed. Jerry mentioned two incompletes and already the guy is having accuracy problems. Sheesh.

  • DMunoz26

    # SnB Defense Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Russell has caught more heat than any young QB I have ever seen.
    _______________

    He misses open receivers, that means you usually aren’t very good. He either isn’t putting the time in to get his accuracy better or he just doesn’t have it. Either way not good for the Raiders. Don’t get me wrong I would love to see him throw 30-40 TD’s and prove me wrong but seems to be the same problems as last year in camp/season.

  • IndianaRaider

    edward teach Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    Indiana… one could say the same thing about any player, but not bringing someone in because you’re afraid they might get injured limits your selection of players by about 100%.

    Anyone can get hurt. Neal’s been pretty durable (even since his major neck injury, and that was awhile ago) and effective throughout his career and he definitely upgrades our fullback position. A no-brainer, in my view.
    ==================================================

    I agree with you 100%, and I would be all for bringing the guy in, not against it. Just to me, looking back and doing my best to improve and dig us out of the hole we’ve been in, the last thing I’d need is to see my weapon go down. If O.O. isn’t 100% and it’s a safe bet he isn’t, Neal provides that blanket granted he stays healthy. Like I said earlier, even at half strength, he is an upgrade over Lawton and Reece.

  • 17 Bob Trey O

    Raiders receiver Javon Walker had knee surgery last month and told the team about it just a few days ago, coach Tom Cable said.

    see link @ # 41

  • http://justwinbaby! 909RaiderLifer

    Marco…

    Yvonne did not notify the team. Per, D. White at SFGATE.

  • SnB Defense

    DMunoz26,

    This is a mini-camp…he missed a couple of throws…so what…wake me when the 1st preseason game starts

  • 4evaRaider

    I agree DMunoz26,this must be corrected.Many times last year he did this I hope he works THIS out

  • DMunoz26

    # SnB Defense Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    DMunoz26,

    This is a mini-camp…he missed a couple of throws…so what…wake me when the 1st preseason game starts
    ___________

    He has had this problem since he has been with the Raiders, this isn’t a new development.

  • 4evaRaider

    THIS= short pass dysfunction or SPD

  • RaiderLove

    Javon you little punk. You need to make another trip to Vegas.

  • 4evaRaider

    #93 lmao gawd I love that =)

  • exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    SnB Defense Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 3:18 pm
    Russell has caught more heat than any young QB I have ever seen.
    ————————————————–
    Don’t all African-American QB’s get flack. It’s all racial. IMHO. No I’m not a minority, just stating the facts.

  • RaiderLove

    # exlaraiderseasonticketholder Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    SnB Defense Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 3:18 pm
    Russell has caught more heat than any young QB I have ever seen.
    ————————————————–
    Don’t all African-American QB’s get flack. It’s all racial. IMHO. No I’m not a minority, just stating the facts.
    =========================
    I don’t buy that. He was taken #1! Hit the numbers! Enough said.

  • DMunoz26

    # exlaraiderseasonticketholder Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    SnB Defense Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 3:18 pm
    Russell has caught more heat than any young QB I have ever seen.
    ————————————————–
    Don’t all African-American QB’s get flack. It’s all racial. IMHO. No I’m not a minority, just stating the facts.
    ___________________

    Come on man really? Ask Jerry how many times when Gannon was here that the ball hit the ground in non contact drills. btw my fave QB was Vince Evans, dopest back up QB ever.

  • 16yearsold16yearfan

    DMunoz26 his completion pct over the last 4 games was 63.7 so he is obviously getting better this is just the first mini camp he only missed a couple of throws

  • DMunoz26

    # 16yearsold16yearfan Says:
    May 8th, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    DMunoz26 his completion pct over the last 4 games was 63.7 so he is obviously getting better this is just the first mini camp he only missed a couple of throws
    ________________

    I know that but when the guy has a record of inaccuracy it’s a concern means he isn’t putting the work in the offseason, I am not against the guy I would love this guy to become the QB we all want him to be.

  • 16yearsold16yearfan

    he doesnt have a record of inaccuracy his completion pct in college was over 70 pct and it was in the 60′s at the end of the year he had some missed throws thats what happens with young qb’s