By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, June 17th, 2009 at 1:08 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News and notes from the last Raiders’ OTA session available to the media:
– The acquisition of Greg Ellis and the fate of defensive end Derrick Burgess are unrelated, coach Tom Cable said. But it’s worth noting Ellis lined up at Burgess’ left end spot with the first team on his second day as a Raider.
“It came about pretty quick last week, and once it got in motion, I think this was the place he wanted to be, and obviously, what we’re doing defensively, it fits him,” Cable said. “He started out as a 4-3 end and became an outside backer in a 3-4 and now he’s in a 4-3. It makes our team better. I said from the very beginning we’d try to do that, when possible, when it presented itself, so it’s a good deal for us.”
Can Ellis be an an every down player?
“It think he can be. You look a the film and he’s been doing that, albeit in a different position, this is a guy you would rely on to come in and compete to be a starter and all that,” Cable said. “He’s got so much left in terms of where he’s at physically, in terms of his body, his production, so again, just a positive for our team.
– Exactly what Ellis thinks about joining the Raiders isn’t clear. Several media members were hoping to ask quesitons, but instead he was walked off the field by a member of the club’s media relations staff and he never returned.
Whether Ellis didn’t feel like talking or the team didn’t want him to talk isn’t known. No explanation was given. My recollection of Ellis when the Cowboys trained at San Jose State during a week between a Raiders and 49ers game was that he was an extremely personable and agreeable interview subject.
– Ellis practiced with the Raiders for the first time Tuesday, but it wasn’t even mentioned by the club’s Twitter account, which did update fans on tryouts for the Junior Raiderettes.
– The seeds of Burgess’ discontent with the Raiders began when former personnel exec Mike Lombardi was looking in to a contract extension for the Pro Bowl defensive end. When Lombardi was fired, any chance for a deal was lost.
Lombardi assessed the Burgess situation as part of this National Football Post column, although he didn’t write about how it all started.
– Near the end of practice a fight broke out between Tyvon Branch and a lineman, believed to be Cooper Carlisle, and it took a scrum of players to separate them. Cable met with the team after the three horns signifying the end of practice and his first line had the team laughing.
When the Raiders came off the field, Branch was talking with defensive coordiantor John Marshall.
– Other than Ellis at left end, the Raiders finished the public portion of their last OTA much the way they have the past few weeks. No real surprises in among the starters. Khalif Barnes did get some work with the first team at left tackle, although not as much as Mario Henderson.
– Cable said the undrafted free agents which have shown the most this offseason are wide receiver Nick Miller and safety Jerome Boyd, a converted linebacker from Oregon.
– No truly horrible throws from Russell Wednesday, but nothing of note down the field, either, even though there was little in the way of red zone drills. Russell said afterward the plan is to get the receivers together for a gathering at an undisclosed location to work on their timing.
“We’re going to get the receivers and tight ends a week away from everything, just go along by ourselves and accomplish something that would make us a lot better during the year,” Russell said. Just work on our own, with nobody out there but us, get ready for camp, get ready for a new year.”
Cable was glad to hear it.
“I think it’s a big step. It’s kind of what we’ve been talking about all along, and to hear about that is obviously a positive from a coaches’ standpoint,” Cable said. “It will be good to hear how that goes and what his plan is.”
Sounds great, but we’ll probably never know which receivers show up, which ones are healthy enough to show up, and which ones are advised by their agents or the union to not show up.
– With Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Johnson not attending, John Bowie got in work as a starting cornerback opposite Stanford Routt and got worked over by most every receiver who lined up against him.
– Rookie free agent wide receiver Shawn Bayes made the catch of the day with a dive inside the 5-yard line on a medium-depth throw from Garcia during a team drill. Bayes had the biggest downfield catch as well, a 30-yarder from Garcia against Jason Horton.
(It was enough to make you wonder if Cable meant to say Bayes, No. 87, as a standout, as opposed to Miller, who wears No. 89. Miller also caught a few passes).
– During a two-minute drill in a team session starting at the 20-yard line, Russell looked in the direction of Zach Miller four staright times, not getting a first down, and taking what the coaches ruled a sack on one play.
– In another drive which started at the 20, Russell underthrew a long lob to Johnnie Lee Higgins, with Bowie holding up in coverage, but beat a Thomas Howard blitz with a quick out to Miller for a first down on third-and-3 and converted a third-and-10 with a quick pass to his right to tight end Tony Stewart.
The drive eventually stalled when Russell stepped up on fourth-and-3 threw incomplete with two defenders closer than any Oakland receiver.
– Heyward-Bey and Mitchell weren’t the only rookies who came off the field. Louis Murphy hopped off the field on one play, with Cable saying afterward it was because of a cramp.
Regarding Heyward-Bey’s injury, Cable said, “As you saw, Heyward-Bey is sore. We don’t have any idea what that means because we haven’t had a chance to go look at him yet.”
Hard to know whether the hamstring injury is a fluke or something to be concerned about long-term. Heyward-Bey was regarded as a durable receiver at Maryland.
– Asked whether Mitchell’s absence and hamstring injury sets him back, Cable said, “It does. You can’t do anything about the rules. They are what they are. You have to abide by them so we have some work, some catch-up to do when we get to camp with him, certainly.”
– Perhaps not coincidentally, the Raiders defensive front refrained from jumping offsides with Tommy Kelly absent.
– Raiders players will largely be on their own from now until training camp begins. The reporting date is July 29. Players will be given things to work on and ostensibly a prescribed reporting weight.