By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, May 20th, 2009 at 12:26 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Observed during Wednesday’s organized team activity session:
– Let’s get it out of the way first. JaMarcus Russell’s passing was, well, it was awful.
There’s no other way to put it.
Coach Tom Cable conceded there were accuracy issues and attributed them to the newness of the passing game, which will feature deeper routes. He also said Russell was better today than he was Tuesday and he expects him to be better still on Thursday.
Would have hated to see Tuesday if he was worse.
Since it’s only May 20, it’s not worth making a major issue out of it, but that didn’t make it any easier to watch.
Of Russell’s two interceptions, one _ a swing pass which bounced out of the hands of Louis Rankin and to strong side linebacker Jon Alston _ was not his fault. The other sailed well over the head of Johnnie Lee Higgins and was stolen by Stanford Routt.
There was also a near pick in a red zone drill by Kirk Morrison, who dropped the ball. Linebacker Thomas Howard was closer to the play than any intended receiver.
Darrick Brown also dropped a potential interception which was thrown directly to him.
– During one 7-on-7 drill, Russell threw four passes, completing one for about two yards to Justin Fargas. The other three passes? One at the feet of Fargas, a slant behind Todd Watkins that was broken up by Hiram Eugene and the Alston interception which bounced off Rankin’s hands.
– Garcia avoided interceptions and had one nice lob in a middle seam to Marcel Reece against middle linebacker Ricky Brown for big yardage, but wasn’t particularly sharp, either. He also fumbled a snap.
It might have been the only passing play of the entire session that was something beyond routine.
– Encourging sight in the running game _ Darren McFadden quickly turning the corner to his left with tight end Darrell Strong sealing rookie defensie end Matt Shaughnessy.
– It had to be the strangest scuffle ever. Two of the most mild-mannered Raiders, Brown and guard Cooper Carlisle, had to be separated following a running play.
– Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey and safety Mike Mitchell were not in attendance because their college classes are still in school, making it against NFL rules for them to attend.
(I know, the rule makes no sense to me, either). Heyward-Bey is scheduled to arrive tonight and practice Thursday. Mitchell will miss the session.
– Wide receiver Louis Murphy had no conflicts with his school class and made a leaping catch in the end zone off a pass from Bruce Gradkowski.
– Cable said he expects Derrick Burgess, the subject of trade rumors with New England, to be with the Raiders when the season started but acknowledged they get inquiries on players all the time. Burgess was not at the OTA.
Others who did not attend included quarterback Andrew Walter, cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Johnson and kickers Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski.
Among those who were injured but in attendance included WR Javon Walker (knee), G Robert Gallery (calf), G Paul McQuistan, DE Jay Richardson (knee strain), FB Oren O’Neal, DT Gerard Warren (pectoral strain), C Samson Satele (shoulder) and TE Zach Miller (sports hernia surgery).
– Brown continued to play middle linebacker, with Jon Alston working as the strong side starter. With Asomugha and Johnson out, the starting corners were Routt and Justin Miller, with John Bowie operating as the third cornerback.
The starting offensive line with Gallery and Satele out was Mario Henderson at left tackle, Chris Morris at left guard, John Wade at center, Carlisle at right guard and Cornell Green at right tackle.
The second team defense found Brown in the middle flanked by two rrokies _ strong side rookie Slade Norris and undrafted free agent David Nixon of BYU.
The first team defensive line was Trevor Scott at right end, Terdell Sands and Tommy Kelly at tackle and Greyson Gunheim at left end.
I’ll have more later . . .