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Raiders’ offseason: What we know

Things we learned about the 2009 Raiders from their mandatory minicamp through public organized team activity sessions as they go their separate ways until reporting to the Napa Marriott on July 29:

– JaMarcus Russell, passing struggles or not, is the starting quarterback. Never underestimate the ability of football fans to break into factions supporting one or the other _ Jeff Garcia already has his supporters.

A front line veteran even asked me if I thought there was a chance Garcia could end up starting.

The answer? Not unless Russell does a faceplant of major proportions. The Raiders passing game is still evolving with a new coordinator and quarterback coach, and Russell’s last six games of the 2008 season carry considerably more weight than some shaky non-contact practices.

– The deeper pass routes which Tom Cable said will be a part of the 2009 Raiders never manifested themselves in a public setting. Perhaps Russell and Co. were lighting it up at the other two-thirds of the OTAs where the media wasn’t present, but that’s not the way to bet.

– For the most part, the Darren McFadden who took the field for the Raiders as a rookie was a shell of himself. The explosion is back, and the things McFadden ought to be able to accomplish catching passes out of the backfield and in the slot should give the Raiders something to hang their hat on in the passing game until the deep game comes around.

McFadden and Michael Bush, who looks imposing and swift in no-contact situations, give the Raiders two backs who can do some real damage in the passing game.

– Darrius Heyward-Bey and Mike Mitchell are well behind the curve.

The two guys who needed the offseason the most accomplished the least through no fault of their own. For Heyward-Bey, it was a hamstring issue that’s gone on for some five weeks. If it’s any consolation for Raiders fans, the 49ers Michael Crabtree hasn’t practiced at all as a stress fracture heals.

For Mitchell, it’s the NFL rule which wouldn’t allow him to participate until school was out at Ohio University, as well as a hamstring issue.

– Many Raiders actually believe voluntary minicamps are voluntary. Derrick Burgess wasn’t around, of course, but at various times Raiders such as Nnamdi Asomugha, Chris Johnson, Tommy Kelly, Terdell Sands, Jeff Garcia and Michael Huff said thanks, but no thanks.

As for Shane Lechler and Sebastian Janikowski . . . fore!

Garcia missed because of the birth of his son. Asomugha can be excused because he was the best player on the field every moment he was there.

– If Burgess isn’t traded, he ought to be prepared for fewer snaps as a pass rush specialist. Greg Ellis moved directly into the starting lineup at left end and according to the Dallas Morning News got a three-year contract worth $10 million.

This could be a good thing. A fresh Burgess looking for a big salary next season would produce double-digit sacks.

– Don’t worry about Zach Miller. Miller had sports hernia surgery in the offseason, but when he returned, he looked as good and as sure-handed as ever. He should catch 60-plus passes this season.

– Lane who?

Cable did his best to separate himself from the Kiffin regime. The first mandatory minicamp was the day the music died. No more stereo system playing rock, rap and the occasional country tunes. Cable talked up the signing of Lorenzo Neal a year or so after Kiffin said the veteran didn’t fit the zone blocking scheme. He stayed with the program, holding dear all things Raider.

– Cooper Carlisle will fight to regain his form of two years ago. The Raiders best lineman in 2007, Carlisle wasn’t nearly as good in 2008. He got in a pair of offseason scrapes, one with Ricky Brown and the other with Tyvon Branch.

– Chaz Schilens is the Raiders best wide receiver. Considering durability was an issue as a rookie, it’s at least a minor concern Schilens couldn’t participate in the final OTA, but he showed plenty in earlier sessions. He’s a go-up-and-get it receiver who should be the go-to guy should Russell get enough time to throw on third-and-long.

– Jon Alston is bigger, but apparently not any slower. Alston has been the strong side starter all offseason and weighs more than 230 pounds after finishing last season at 214.

– Cable wants to control the message as much as he does the playing field. Al Davis prefers but does not insist on assistant coaches refraining from talking to the media. His head coaches have done it both ways.

He hired two new coordinators, passing game coordinator Ted Tollner and defensive coordinator John Marshall, both who have long NFL resumes and have managed to avoid saying anything controversial for virtually their entire careers.

Neither man was approved to talk on the record to the media, which I assume will happen at training camp. That’s pretty much how it was handled in the late stages of the Bill Callahan regime as well as the Art Shell redux.

Works great for Bill Belichick, though.

Heck, even Cleveland’s Capt. Queeg, Eric Mangini, allowed Rob Ryan to talk with the media recently.

Coming soon: What we don’t know

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • ct raider

    raiderrockstar: thanks..

    I hate hamstring injuries! It means they’re unprofessional and do not take their job seriously. The comparison is the constant hammy injuries. In any pro sport your body is your tool. TO come to practice without your tools ready to work is unprofessional. This isn’t college or pee wee football. They get paid a lot of money to have their bodies stretched and ready.

    CT RAIDER

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

    I thought the Lakers should have fined Magic when he pulled his hammy before his last finals run, thus allowing MJ to win his first NBA title…

    NOT.

    Hamstrings get pulled, even by olympic athletes. It is just unfortunate that we have a lot more olympic-class hamstrings to pull.

    Also, DHB can still work on his hands so that when he can run he doesn’t start dropping Russell’s lasers. Sit him in a chair and let the black Craig Stadler fire passes at him.

  • ct raider

    Celtics have a tough road. Looks like Cleveland is bulking up (literally). Not to mention Ray Ray is on the trading blocks.

    Cavs need a big man and two shooters (one off the bench).

    I see a dynasty coming with them!!!! Time for Cs to load up on picks.

    WOuldn’t be surprised to see Ariza end up in Cleveland. Good perimeter defender and can pop the 3.

    CT RAIDER

  • RaiderRockstar

    Nnamdi says:

    “JaMarcus is going to be holding himself more accountable for a lot of things. He’ll hopefully develop more of the mental part of his game and be able to lead us in that way on the field.”

    Is Russell a mental midget? another Jeff George or Daunte Culpepper?

    please say NO!

  • RaiderRockstar

    A hamstring strain or a pulled hamstring as it is sometimes called is a tear in one or more of the hamstrings muscles. Strictly speaking there are three hamstring muscles (Semitendinosus, Semimembranosus and Biceps femoris) which are known as the hamstring muscle group.

    The role of the hamstring muscles is to bend (flex) the knee and to move the thigh backwards at the hip (extend the hip). Understanding how the hamstrings work give vital clues as to their modes of injury. Mild to severe hamstring strains are extremely common in sprinters and hurdle jumpers and in all sports that involve sprinting activities, such as football and rugby.

    http://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net

  • jhill

    Uh, no RRS, he was just a young kid in his first year as a starter in the NFL.

    Geeze!

  • jhill

    You’re being a little dramatic with the hypothetial Gruden/Russell relationship, Dakota.

  • RaiderRockstar

    NFL News:

    -former Browns star QB Bernie Kosar filed for bankruptcy

    -DT La’Roi Glover retired

  • ct raider

    Step 1Resistance Training: Resistance training for your hamstrings is necessary to further strengthen your hamstrings and keep them in balance with your quadriceps. The imbalance between your quadriceps and your hamstrings is a leading cause of hamstring injuries.

    Step 2Develop a Proper Routine: You should take the time to plan out a workout that is relative to your fitness level. If you are a beginner, you should not be attempting an advanced workout.

    Step 3Warm-Up: Before stretching, it is necessary to do some light jogging over a short distance to get the blood pumping to your muscles. The distance can vary, all you need is enough to feel comfortably “loose” as you take your strides.

    Step 4Stretch Your Entire Body: You should stretch not only your lower body, but your upper body as well. Running is an exercise for the entire body, so the entire body should be warmed up and stretched out.

    Step 5Cool Down: Once your running workout is completed, you will need to take the time to allow your muscles to cool down. Going from intense exercise to relaxation is not good for your hamstrings and other muscles. A light jog or walk coupled with light stretching at the conclusion of your workout will help to keep your hamstrings healthy.

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

    When I see Russell read defenses and call effective audibles I will be on board with his football IQ. If Tollner/Hackett can’t teach it to him no one can. (I hear RUN DMC in my head: “Next time someone’s teachin’ why don’t you get taught!”).

  • ct raider
  • ct raider

    great talking with you all but i don’t get paid at lunch so i have to leave! lol kidding.

    ct raider

  • 4evaRaider

    I hate hamstring injuries! It means they’re unprofessional and do not take their job seriously. The comparison is the constant hammy injuries. In any pro sport your body is your tool. TO come to practice without your tools ready to work is unprofessional. This isn’t college or pee wee football. They get paid a lot of money to have their bodies stretched and ready.

    I couldnt agree more.One would think BY NOW they would get it,imo

  • RaiderRockstar

    CT: Why don’t you blame Brad Roll?

    he’s the strength/conditioning coach!

    Should he make DHB, Mitchell, Murphy, etc run full 4.3 “raider speed” 30 seconds after they get off the bus?

    It should be his job to make sure these guys get stretched out before getting on the football field imo

    Seems to be a ton of Raider injuries in OTA’s the last 2 years since Roll replaced Jeff Fish. Pretty sad, considering it’s NO CONTACT!

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

    ct raider Says:
    June 22nd, 2009 at 8:41 am
    Celtics have a tough road. Looks like Cleveland is bulking up (literally). Not to mention Ray Ray is on the trading blocks.

    Cavs need a big man and two shooters (one off the bench).

    I see a dynasty coming with them!!!! Time for Cs to load up on picks.

    WOuldn’t be surprised to see Ariza end up in Cleveland. Good perimeter defender and can pop the 3.

    CT RAIDER

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

    LOL @ Ariza to Cleveland. They need Odom more than Ariza. And Ray Allen traded? As a Laker fan, I urge Ainge to pull THAT trigger…

  • jhill

    You’ve got to be kidding me …

    What are you really saying about DHB and his hammy? First time he’s ever had an issue with it. A ROOKIE who comes to work, and gets hurt on the job? You’re really jumping on him trying to micro annalyze his hamstring injury?

    WOW!

  • OAKlifer

    Is Russell a mental midget? another Jeff George or Daunte Culpepper?

    No but lance and ol johnnie boy sure as hell are!!!!!!!!

    PLAYOFF BOUND!!!1

    IN CABLE WE TRUST!!!!!!

  • RaiderRockstar

    When I see Russell read defenses and call effective audibles I will be on board with his football IQ. If Tollner/Hackett can’t teach it to him no one can.

    ***

    Agreed. the kid has a lot to prove. Davis gave him a HC he’s familiar with (Cable) who wasn’t afraid to take the “training wheels off”, legit QB coaches (Tollner/Hackett), Barnes/Pears at tackle, DHB/Murphy at WR, Neal at FB, Satele at C, Myers at TE

    we could have taken the S&B approach and overhauled the D-Line in both free agency and the draft and allowed the offense another year to get it together with the same clowns: Harris, Green, Curry, Lelie, Griffith, Wade, Stewart

  • 4evaRaider

    theres a fun NEW POST!!!

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  • OAKlifer

    hello!!!!! this is hella fast!!!!OVER HERE THE KOOLAID IS OVER HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • OAKlifer

    well here is the KOOL AID……..

    DHB ROOKIE OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!

  • OAKlifer

    MILLER WILL FINISH SECOND IN REC & YRDS FOR TE’s ONLY BEHIND WHITTEN!!!!!! MILLER TO THE PB!!!!

  • OAKlifer

    CALLING ALL AM CREW!!!! this is the SPOT!!!!!!

  • OAKlifer

    WHERE ARE YOUA LLL !!!!!!!

  • OAKlifer

    i rule this blog!!!!!!!

  • OAKlifer

    If a tree falls in the woods and no is around does it make noise?????!!!!!!!??????/

  • SaintKaufman

    Oak,
    Are you lost man??

  • OAKlifer

    No I’m here bro the other blog or post or what ever you call it SUCKS!!!!!!!!takews 5min for my page to refresh tried to get the NAtion over here but to no avail ohwell!!!! I will be bloggin when Jerry is back to work!!!!!

  • rightnasty

    As far as the hamstring thing goes, same exact thing happened to Cliff Branch his first mini-camp so unless there’s really nothing else to talk about, not a big deal.

    As for Russell, we really ought to be looking at the positives, rather than the negatives. We could have drafted Brady Quinn that year. Or we could have been like the Niners and got somebody like Alex Smith. As far as rookie quarterbacks go, we’re doing better than a lot of the teams who, in recent years, picked one in the first round. It could be a WHOLE lot worse, people.

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