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It’s Russell’s choice to be mentored

Tom Cable wasn’t afraid to use the term, and in fact he encouraged it.

Jeff Garcia was brought in to be a mentor to JaMarcus Russell, and not just a backup quarterback.

You have a mental image of the two poring over film together, utilizing salt and pepper shakers, and forks and knives as imaginary backfields at lunch when the team convenes at this week’s organized team activity.

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Down deep, Garcia still wants to start. Russell realizes this, and a part of him may want to keep Garcia at arm’s length.

It’s a fact that young players don’t always want to be mentored, and that veteran players don’t always want to be mentors.

Look no further than the 2004 season, when the Raiders parted ways with two of the most productive wide receivers in NFL history, neither of whom were enamored with the thought of being a mentor.

When Norv Turner took over for Bill Callahan in 2004, it became obvious during training camp that Ronald Curry had to play. With the blessing of Al Davis, Turner gave Tim Brown a choice _ stick around as the fifth receiver and occasionally be inactive on game day, or accept his release.

Brown took the latter and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he essentially met the same fate.

During the season, Rice began coming out in certain formations and saw his production dwindle. On Sept. 19, Rice failed to catch a pass against Buffalo, snapping an NFL-record 274-game streak of games played with a reception.

Like Brown, Rice wanted no part of a smaller role and helping bring along players who were going to play more than he was. Davis later confirmed that Rice came to him to complain about the end of the streak and request a trade, which was eventually granted.

Not that the Raiders young receivers were all that interested about acquiring more knowledge, anyway. I remember one day in the Raiders locker room when Rice was out catching extra passes while Curry, Doug Gabriel and others were talking in the locker room.

Within earshot, and without being asked a question, Rich Gannon called over a few media members and wondered aloud how it is the Raiders could have the most productive receiver in NFL history and that the team’s young receivers weren’t out watching him.

“I mean, why wouldn’t you follow him around every moment, seeing how he does it?,” Gannon said.

Then there was Charles Woodson, who was afforded the opportunity as a rookie to play alongside Eric Allen, a veteran with an entire black book of strategies on every wide receiver he had ever faced.

Allen and Woodson were close friends. Allen used to joke his kids’ favorite player was C-Wood. He waited for Woodson to ask about the black book and how to play receivers, but the time never came.

I asked Woodson about it and he said he wasn’t comfortable loading up on information. He said he played better with a “blank slate” which allowed him to react and rely on his natural ability.

Contrast that with Nnamdi Asomugha, who as a rookie in 2003 immediately approached safety Rod Woodson and asked, “What do you have for me?.”

The point is, there is no guarantee Russell and Garcia will evolve into a mentor-student relationship. Which doesn’t mean Russell can’t learn simply from being pushed by him in practice and meeting rooms every day. On that basis alone, not to mention attrition at the quarterback position, Garcia’s signing was a good one.

The bulk of the knowledge Russell acquires won’t be from Garcia, but quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett.

“(Russell) has got a tremendous quarterbacks coach. No one talks about the addition of Paul Hackett,” Jon Gruden told Sirius Satellite Radio last week. “I think he’s really going to reach out and help JaMarcus Russell.”

The process continues this week, with Wednesday’s session open to the media.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • NoMoreFargas

    I always find it’s the job of the young guy who wants knowledge to go to the veteran and learn . Their is nothing wrong with asking questions and advice of some who has more exp unfortunately when us guy are young we have egos and don’t always want help or are to inmature to ask for it.

  • M Lonetree

    NoMoreFargas,

    here’s hoping that Tyvon and “Missile” Mike make all of us forget that Anthony and Marquez ever existed.

    Nader64,

    nice post. the round table gives less vocal persons a good opportunity to interact as everyone is on equal ground. I would assume that it also builds a camaraderie that school rows cannot.

  • Voldemort

    I wander why we just signed Frye. He is worse than Gradkowski isn’t he? Maybe Walter will get cut now. His pouty attitude is the opposite of what Cable is trying to get from the team.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    SnB,

    I think you are right. The place where vets can really help young players the most is probably with off the field issues that come with the money and fame. Hopefully J. Walker isn’t mentoring DHB too much, lol.

  • M Lonetree

    BoSJack,

    are you mentoring us with your fine and witty observations? :)

  • M Lonetree

    Dakota,

    post 193. Exactly. WCO, Vertical, T-Formation, who cares? Just win some games.

    by the way, you are being most cordial in your writing. Is it the ghost of George Mikan smiling through?

  • SnB Defense

    Will Mike Mitchell and DHB make significant contributions this year? The Raiders are usually not very good with getting rookies on the field.

    DHB should be expected to grab 40 to 50 catches this year. Especially for a top 10 pick. I hope that the Raiders put him on the field. If for nothing else…to justify skipping over all the talent at other positions of need.

    Same with Mike Mitchell. The Raiders made a big splash to get him. I hope he doesn’t get lost on special teams.

    Again, Tom Cable’s lineup strategy still concerns me.

  • nader64

    Thx M, and the truth is that position can only improve this year. I think it will.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Walker: Okay DHB, if you want to have a great time spraying Champaign on people in clubs I am the man that can mentor you.

    DHB: Well, okay, but didn’t that get you into trouble with…

    Walker: Never mind that! Sometimes you have to take your lumps in order to perfect the act.

    DHB: Okay, I think I understand.

    Walker: Alright then, lets get to it…the first thing is you have to get the right bottle of Champaign and with your big money rookie contract the only thing that will fly is Krisal, understand?

    DHB: Got it.

    Walker: The next important factor is thumb placement on the mouth of the bottle. You can’t place your thumb too far forward on the mouth because then the Kristal will explode in a 360 degree pattern, getting you and your clothes wet! You have to keep your thumb back and solidly pressed down to make the water shoot out in a forward pattern.

    DHB: Yeah, that makes sense!

    Walker: The next key is bottle placement, you have to hold the bottle out in front of you, not to your side or else you again get yourself wet.

    DHB: Okay.

    Walker: Finally, the shake. This might be the most important factor in a great Champaign spraying party so listen carefully. The first movement of your arm has to be upwards, otherwise you will crack yourself in the balls, got it?

    DHB: Thanks man! Can we go to Vegas as soon as I sign my contract and try it out?

    Walker: Sure we can, but before we take off for Vegas, remind me to teach you how to buy drugs and gay sex in Vegas without being beaten within an inch of your life and kicked to the curb.

  • nader64

    Dakota, u suk, lol.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    M Lonetree Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 10:14 am
    Dakota,

    post 193. Exactly. WCO, Vertical, T-Formation, who cares? Just win some games.

    by the way, you are being most cordial in your writing. Is it the ghost of George Mikan smiling through?
    __________________

    No, it is because Lefty12 and Haysedaze called me out for being an A-hole last week. So I took a look back, and sure enough, I was being an A-hole.

  • Chris in NY

    Watched the Week 17 Tampa game last night. Feeling pretty good about JaMarcus right now. He did make 4 sloppy plays that showed inexperience/lack of polish:
    – Threw an INT that was called back because of a facemask.
    – Threw another INT on the very next play.
    – Had the ball slip out of his hand when he was untouched on one pass.
    – Was outside the tackle on a screen play that got blown up. Instead of throwing the ball away out of bounds past the line of scrimmage, he threw in down at the ground in the backfield which is intentional grounding regardless of whether you’re outside the tackle. He had time to try to find another WR, run or throw it out of bounds on this play.

    Other than that he looked very, very good. A lot of passes were not only accurate and thrown with touch, they were also going 10-20 yards downfield. Very few were checkdowns. It’s also clear he has the best arm in the league. This isn’t all about ‘wow, he can throw it 80 yards.’ He’s able to throw the ball with such zip that it gets to guys open 20 yards downfield before the defender can react and break on it. By contrast, Jeff Garcia threw a 20-yard pass to an open receiver where Hiram Eugene was able to break on it and would’ve had an INT if he hadn’t dropped it when he hit the ground. On another pass, a fade route, Rashad Baker broke on the ball after it was thrown and did pick it off. Defenders would never be able to make those plays with a JaMarcus laser-like pass. He also has a perfect, quick release. If he can sharpen his overall accuracy and decision-making, he’ll absolutely tear defenses apart.

    The o-line was also great. I don’t think they gave up a sack. Also, don’t get too down on Cornell Green. He and Cooper Carlisle were opening freeways on the right side of the line in that game. He’s definitely a solid backup and if he beats out Barnes for starting RT, so be it.

  • SnB Defense

    Starting lineup:

    QB: Russell
    RB: Fargas
    FB: Neal
    WR1: Walker
    WR2: Schilens
    TE: Miller

  • M Lonetree

    Dakota,

    self-reflexion, good on you. sometimes we get caught up in ourselves too much to see rightly. as Neil Young sung, “And there ain’t nothin’ like a friend, who can tell you you’re just pi$$in” in the wind.”

    and as you are the grammar cop. Champaign is a So Illinois town. Champagne is a province in France.

  • Chris in NY

    Come on SnB,
    No way Fargas starts again.
    I could see Walker starting though, but could just as easily see DHB, JLH or Murphy winning that spot.

  • M Lonetree

    reflection

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Chris in NY,

    Great post, but I think every o-line (except Atlanta’s) playing against the Bucs D the last 4 weeks or so of the season dominated the Bucs…their defense was trash at the end of the year.

  • Ron

    Voldemort Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 10:06 am
    I wander why we just signed Frye. He is worse than Gradkowski isn’t he? Maybe Walter will get cut now. His pouty attitude is the opposite of what Cable is trying to get from the team.
    —————————————-
    I wonder why the Raiders are holding on to Walter. After going threw hell with the Bed & Breakfast offense, he has been written off by all the new coaching staffs and given zero chance of winning the starting job. This has indeed turned AW to the dark side. Now he gets buried under a bunch of journeymen pickups. It would be best for both Walter and the Raiders to give him his freedom.

    The only reason I can figure Davis is holding onto Walter is to make sure that he does not end up in Denver. Davis will trade Walter to an NFC team for a bag of towels before possibly helping Denver.

  • Chris in NY

    One other thing,
    Chaz Schilens could definitely break out. Great size. Great hands. Great speed. Great attitude. He looked damn good vs. TB. If he’s noticeably better this year as is being reported, he could potentially threaten to be the best WR in the AFC West. I’m not kidding. A great last-round sleeper pick for you fantasy leaguers out there.

  • SnB Defense

    Chris in NY Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 10:29 am
    Come on SnB,
    No way Fargas starts again.
    I could see Walker starting though, but could just as easily see DHB, JLH or Murphy winning that spot.
    =======================================================
    Why do you see no way that Fargas starts again. He was the starter for every game down the stretch. The only reason Bush played in week 17 was because Fargas was injured (again). So all I am saying is that until I actually see DMAC or Bush working with the 1st team exclusively and Fargas primarily working with the 2nd or 3rd teams….Fargas is the guy.

    Tom Cable loves Justin Fargas like Al Davis loved Rob Ryan. Cable is going to play the “leader” because he is enamoured by having his guys out there. Problem is that Fargas is not as talented as DMAC or Bush, even if his preparation and leadership is better. Fargas is going to get 10 to 12 carries a game.

  • SnB Defense

    Defensive Starters:

    DE: Richardson
    DT: Kelly
    NT: Warren
    DE: Burgess

    WLB: Howard
    MLB: Morrison
    SLB: Brown

    CB: Asomugha
    CB: Johnson
    FS: Eugene
    SS: Branch

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    I said I wasn’t the Grammar police! lol…see, I drink whiskey, not the bubbly so I don’t even know how to spell it!

  • Stabler76

    Did we sign Charlie Frye because Charlie Batch was not available and we somehow felt compelled to have a Charlie on the team?

  • Chris in NY

    True Dakota,
    But I don’t think Green was nearly as bad as most people think. He certainly wasn’t the liability that Kwame was. He’s serviceable and maybe better than average as a run-blocker.

  • http://atm Raider O

    Good Morning Gents.

    Dakota,

    LMAO at post 209

  • Chris in NY

    SnB,
    I know the Raiders love Fargas. I don’t think he’s a bad player, but DMac and Bush just have so much more potential. In a couple of media sessions this off-season, in talking about the running game, Cable has mentioned DMac and Bush while omitting Fargas’ name. Plus they were reportedly trying to trade Fargas this off-season. I think they’d like to have him around as a leader and will probably feel obliged to play him some because of that, but I think they know DMac and Bush are the better backs with much more upside.

    Plus, don’t discount the fact that without Bush’s performance in Week 17, Cable would probably not have a HC job in the NFL right now. Don’t discount the respect for Bush’s ability that fact has earned.

  • Stabler76

    During the Marc Wilson years I always wished they would just direct snap the ball to Marcus Allen, keep the QB’s hands off the ball.

    Now we have the wildcat. Raiders could line up, then split J-Russ out next to the left tackle and direct snap it to Bush or DMAC— Russell’s bigger than most outside linebackers. That might be the most effective mentoring.

  • SnB Defense

    I hope this doesn’t happen:

    Media: Coach, when do you think we will see more touches for McFadden and Bush

    Cable: Well, I think a lot of that depends on the flow of the game. Fargas’ leadership really is a core to this team. We try to get DMAC and Bush depending on situation or the pace of the game. Right now I like how our line up is situated. We have our leaders out there and I like the hard work.

    Media: Keeping on the DMAC issue, it seemed the offense came alive when McFadden got some carries in the 3rd quarter. Will we see more of him next week?

    Cable: Oh sure, we try to get all our players out there. Darren is learning..progressing, and I like where this kid can go. We will continue to make him part of the offense

    Media: We didn’t see a lot of Heyward-Bey today. What was the reason?

    Cable: Well Javon Walker, like Fargas, provides a lot of leadership. He knows the route tree and I trust his veteran leadership. Heyward-Bey is a good kid and I look forward to seeing him get better as we go.

    Media: Trevor Scott had 2 sacks in the 4th QTR. Why wasn’t he in the game earlier?

    Cable: Again, Trevor Scott has a motor on him. He splits the tackle in half and beats his man. Right now, John and I are teaching a lot of concepts. So Derrick and Jay have a little bit more of a grasp on some of those techniques. But Scott is a great kid that we will get into the game plan as we go forward.

    Media: Mike Mitchell. Couple of good hits in the 2nd QTR but mostly he saw special teams duty.

    Cable: Mike Mitchell is a great kid. Hard worker. Right now he is learning behind Hiram Eugene. Eugene is one of those players that is a leader and hard worker and is providing a great example for Mike.

  • M Lonetree

    ChrisNY,

    Green may have been a bulldozer in that final game, but that was B.M.H. – the Before Mop handle era. Cornell will likely be good for a least one personal foul per game with the all the razzing he’s going to hear from opposing lineman about beating on his woman with a cleaning implement. Human nature demands his response.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Chris,

    I don’t know, Green had 8 penalties and gave up 7.5 sacks playing against run-stopping DEs at RT in 2008. He can run black pretty well, but we need much more protection out of our RT for Russell…and fewer drive killing penalties. If Barnes (who had 9 penalties and gave up 7.5 sacks against better competition playing LT) can’t beat out Green for RT, and improve his play and lower his penalties, then I think we are pretty much screwed.

    Green has always been bad, but Barnes at least had a couple of decent seasons before 2008…but will Barnes accept a move to RT? He is already squawking about not wanting to move.

  • http://atm Raider O

    Green should be a G, and not an OT. IMHO

  • Chris in NY

    STARTING OFFENSE:
    QB- JaMarcus
    RB- McFadden
    FB- Neal
    WR- Schilens
    WR- DHB
    TE- Miller
    LT- Henderson
    LG- Gallery
    C- Satele
    RG- Carlisle
    RT- Barnes

    STARTING DEFENSE:
    DE- Burgess
    DT- Kelly
    DT- Warren
    DE- Scott
    WLB- Howard
    MLB- Morrison
    SLB- Alston
    CB- Nnamdi
    CB- C. Johnson
    S- Branch
    S- Mitchell

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Raider O Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 10:46 am
    Green should be a G, and not an OT. IMHO
    _______________________________________________
    Green should be in jail and not on an NFL roster IMO. Unless his girlfriend outweighed him and the mop handle was used in self-defense of course!

  • Chris in NY

    SnB,
    You totally nailed Cable’s mindset/answers in post 228. Hopefully things don’t play out like that this year.

  • http://atm Raider O

    Dakota,

    LMFAO, I forgot about the mop handle!!

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Offensively, our season might come down to:

    1) Henderson becoming a legit LT, 2) Satele regaining his strength and playing well at center, 3) Carlisle not continuing his downward spiral that began in 2008 and 4) Barnes accepting the RT job and playing more to his 2006-2007 form than his 2008 form.

    Those issues really bother me, but I guess the Raiders know that all will be right with the o-line as they passed over tons of o-line talent in favor of supplementing the WR and S positions.

  • MaddenRedneck

    Pears will wind up starting somewhere along to O-line.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Pears ever play RG? I think Cooper might crash this year…

  • Stabler76

    —236 Yeah the draft was full of O-line talent this year

  • exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    Lakers in 6 was my prediction. 1 in Orlando and close the show in L.A.

  • MaddenRedneck

    Pears is good enough to play most any position, he is one of the reasons they did not draft 0-line.

  • SnB Defense

    Defensively the season comes down to:

    1. Gerard Warren’s ability to become a guy that commands the double team up the middle to keep the LBs clean

    2. Kirk Morrison being able to get his shoulder pads on the other side of the line of scrimmage

    3. Using Thomas Howard to get blitz pressure (how can he have only 1 sack last year)

    4. Better play at the SLB and DE position to hold the edge

    Opponents are going to run the ball on the Raiders until they demonstrate an ability to consistently stop it. No opponent is going to pass 1st unless they have a superior passing game. And looking at the schedule, there are maybe 4 games that fit the bill as superior passing teams. (San Diego twice), Houston and Philly.

  • MaddenRedneck

    Pittsburg?

  • Raider Dell

    Dakota

    “Hells Bells”

    Later

  • http://cosmicdanceband.com Silver-n-Black666

    Dell

    Good to see you

    Warren Hayes!!!!

  • Raider Dell

    SNB666

    Glad your back, liked the Elvis impersonator you were.

    Koko Taylor died last week, we are losing many great one’s, pretty sad.

    Off to lunch, talk soon.

  • los raiders de don rober

    IMO the season comes down to:

    1)Offense: Jamarcus proving to everybody else he is the leader of the offense, outworking everybody else and getting after the slackers (instead of being THE slacker).

    2)Defense: Our fat DL stops being a complete disgrace, and our safeties understand what the heck they are doing back there.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Dakota Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 10:46 am
    Chris,

    I don’t know, Green had 8 penalties and gave up 7.5 sacks playing against run-stopping DEs at RT in 2008. He can run black pretty well…

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    What else does he do black pretty well?

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    RIP Koko. Saw her many times, always bumpin.

  • DKnight007

    MaddenRedneck Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 8:59 am
    Its funny how the media bias plays out regarding the Raiders and Russell. He has been in Oakland working since the end of last season and left one time for a week to attend his uncle’s funeral, yet his work ethic is questioned because he was drafted by Al Davis.

    ^^^^^
    Exactly! The media are just spin doctors who spin things based on their own opinion instead of being honest and straight forward ahnd objective.

    If Russell was on the Pats or Steelers BSPN, NFL Network and everyother national media outlet would spin things toward the positive regarding Russell.