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


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • priesttj

    Raider O, we are not making indictments against everyone. We are making observations about their observations. Counter-opinions we are not saying they’re bad people. Or bad Raider fans. I have a lot of respect for SnB but he sometimes gets stuck like anyone else with an opinion that may be in error…no one died.

    My observations are to help if you will, to add a different point of view. I often need the same thing.

  • Good night Jhill.

  • priesttj

    Lefty12, that is a real problem with me if anything bothers me it’s that hurd mentality.

  • lefty12

    O-opinions are great.they are what make it fun to come here and have discussions.but when people act as if their opinion is fact is where i have problems.lets face it,we root for a team that operates under ultimate secrecy.the only thing we can truly offer is our opinions.

  • BHP,

    I like your posts sir. Like I said, you always leave me with something to think about.

    My post wasn’t directed at you, Jhill, or Lefty. It was just a thought, and nothing more.

  • I have mistaken my opinion for a fact afew times in my life! 😉

  • priesttj

    Raider O, the people that love to attack me are the ones that take an opinion of mine and use it against me as if I was stating a fact. When I was simply making an observation that may or may not be right.

    They are my opinions not facts.

  • lefty12

    O,i didn’t mean to single you out about Wilfolk.i was just using him as an example.sorry if it came out that way.

  • Lefty,

    207, that’s how I feel about Reps! lol

  • Lefty,

    No need to apologize sir, I didn’t feel that way.

    I’m a used car salesman, I have thick skin. lol

  • lefty12

    O,Priest and i have had many discussions on here.quite a few times we haven’t agreed,but i believe we both respect each other because we realize we are just pointing out different perspectives on things.i do not hold it against someone if their opinion is different than mine,but i hope they at least respect the idea that i can have a different view than them.

  • lefty12

    did that make sense?

  • Yes sir, it made a lot of sense. I respect all of you, and your opinions. I don’t agree with some, but I still respect them.

    Opinions are like …. We all have them. lol

    Good night Gent.

  • lefty12


  • priesttj

    A different viewpoint is why we come in here. Anything else would be very boring. There are fans in here that know a ton about football. There are others that are here for very different reasons that have little to do with discussing football. All they want to do is further their crusade in character assasination, Of you know who. They couldn’t care lees about anything else.

  • priesttj

    Adios sports fans.

  • lefty12

    Priest,i find it kind of funny that some people attack you constantly and they usually just quit posting when i show up.i guess we just rub some the wrong way.

  • lefty12

    goodnight Priest.hope to talk soon,but nothing will be going on for a while.

  • Lefty

    You and Priest may not approve of me. But I bet I go back further than both of you. If you want to know anything about the Raiders, and have success, ask me about it, gwdamned Bulldagin Bess.

  • lefty12

    KK,i actually appreciate,approve,and like your input on here.i don’t always agree,but i know you don’t always,if ever,agree with me.i don’t know about who goes back further,but i have seen the Raiders play at every home stadium they’ve played in except the LA Col.have a football in my den from Frank Yuell that a bunch of us got at a game.

  • lefty12

    KK,btw even though we both go way back with the Raiders,after reading your posts for years,i would never claim to know MORE about our favorite team than you.

  • Gnite Lefty

  • 4evaRaider

    Who or what is Bulldagin Bess???

  • 4evaRaider

    Oh and Good Morning NATION!!!

  • 4evaRaider


    Raiders coach Tom Cable has said he believes top draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey is ahead of the curve because of his involvement in a pro-style offense.

    He’s going to need that edge in training camp, because in terms of on-field involvement in the Oakland’s pre-training camp offseason, Heyward-Bey’s progress has been minimal.

    During the second day of a three-day organized team activity, Heyward-Bey, while running a simple out pattern, reached back to his right hamstring and groaned in pain before a JaMarcus Russell pass sailed out of bounds.

    Heyward-Bey adjourned to the end zone, where he spoke with trainer Rod Martin, before walking off the field and into the locker room, presumably not to be seen on the field again until the Raiders convene for their first practice in Napa on July 30.

    That gives Heyward-Bey approximately six weeks to get his hamstring right before training camp, where he will be counted on to give Russell the deep threat which in theory would help open up much of the Raiders offense.

    The problem is, Heyward-Bey hurt the hamstring for the first time on May 9 and hasn’t been right since, meaning he already had some five weeks to get healthy and instead had a setback.

    At the conclusion of a Wednesday practice which was the last media window before training camp, Cable said he didn’t have any information on the severity of Heyward-Bey’s injury.

    But given that he’d already missed so much time, it seemed doubtful he would do little more than be a spectator during the team’s final minicamp session.

    In the meantime, Heyward-Bey has sat in on meetings, taking so-called “mental reps” and watched practice as undrafted free agents Shawn Bayes and Nick Miller got much of the work in practice along with returnees Johnnie Lee Higgins and Jonathan Holland.

    Third-round pick Louis Murphy has also had his moments and at this point rates as the rookie who looks closest to getting on the field to be a contributing member of the passing game.

    While Heyward-Bey was a controversial choice with the seventh overall pick in the draft because of a reputation for inconsistent hands and so-so production, he was a durable player at Maryland.

    He promised to go home, continue to work out and be ready for the start of camp.

    Mike Mitchell, the safety out of Ohio University and second-round pick, was also running behind. Mitchell also has hamstring issues and wasn’t able to attend OTA workouts because of an NFL rule which says he can’t practice until the University of Ohio spring semester is out.

  • NoMoreFargas

    What up fellas , see just like Ryan I don’t believe anything Cable say he also loved kwame last year.

  • NoMoreFargas

    With Dmac/Bush, Miller hopefully will take a ton of pressure of the wr core , just need jlh take a few quick slants to the house, chaz with 3 flys up catches and hopefully we get a little something from murphy&dhb but rookie wr usually struggle.

  • 4evaRaider

    Raiders’ Russell will hold own passing game campOakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell(notes) has apparently developed a work ethic or has at least grown tired of hearing he doesn’t have one.

    Russell announced that sometime between the last day of spring practice and the beginning of training camp July 30 he plans to host his own passing-game minicamp at an undisclosed location, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

    I talked to coach (Tom Cable) about it,” Russell said. “Sometimes they have the rookies come back here for a week, and instead of them coming back here, I decided we’ll do it on our own. … Get somewhere where nobody knows where you’re at and go and do your own thing.”

    This is an ideal time for Russell to buff up his image and his game, considering that Jeff Garcia(notes) is competing like a maniac for the starting quarterback job, doing everything but letting the air out of Russell’s tires, according to the Chronicle.

    Who will be invited to the secret camp?

    “Everybody that plays receiver and wears the (Raiders’) uniform.”

    What about other quarterbacks? (That’s how I phrased my question, rather than asking, “Will Jeff Garcia be invited?”)

    “I don’t know,” Russell said. “Jeff just had a newborn, and Bruce (Gradowski) and (Charlie) Frye, we’re working on that.”

    Source: San Francisco

  • 4evaRaider

    In other words its my ball and I can say who can come and who cant,so there

  • 4evaRaider

    na na na na~~~ na na

  • 4evaRaider

    :=) =)

  • 4evaRaider

    Dare I say it but…We have the ability 2 just FUKKIN EXPLODE ON OFFENCE THIS YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!! imo

  • 4evaRaider

    Gonna Blow It Up!!!

  • exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    Got to make this quick. Happy Father’s Day to all. Passed by a local park and a swarm of kids came running out yelling Daddy, Daddy. Got to run. LOL

  • 4evaRaider

    Good Luck Exla!!!

  • 408RAIDER

    Happy fathers day nation!

  • 4evaRaider

    yo back at ya 408!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • 4evaRaider

    where you at???

  • Cool…..today I get to celebrate the fact that I didn’t pull out fast enough.

    Maybe I can get a tie for my contribution.

  • exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    I’m not taking the DNA tests despite having to go to the Post Office to pick up the bundles of Father’s Day cards. No way. I never claimed to be a Wilt Chamberlain or Travis Henry. Got to go again. The phones ringing off the hook. Happy Fathers Day again to all.

  • M Lonetree

    happy summer solstice Raider nation.

  • Happy Father’s day Nation, and happy Sol Sistere to you too M.

  • 16 and LMN are MIA, I hope all is well with these 2.

  • My Roster:
    RE: Burgess/ Scott
    LE: Ellis/ Jay/ Matt S
    DT: TK, Warren/Sands, Bryant( he can play Base End too)
    WLB: TH, Alston
    MLB: Kirk, Frantz
    SLB: Brown, Euk, Slade Norris
    CBs: Nnamdi, CJ, Stanford R, Miller, Bowie
    SS: Mitchell, Huff
    FS: Branch, Eugene, ( Davis or ?)

    QB: JR, Garcia, Frye
    RB: DMC, Bush, Fargas
    FB: Neal, Oneal
    TE: Miller, Myer, Stewart
    WR: Chaz, Walker, JLH, DHB, LM
    LT: Mario, Pears
    LG: Gallery,Johnson
    C: Satele, Wade
    RG: Cooper, ?
    RT: Barnes, Green

  • That’s 52 players, all the other players can compete!

    No need for LS Condo, Jano, or Lechler.
    We don’t need to kick and punt!! lol

  • We have a lot of young talent to compete at LB and DE, a few will not make the team.

    Bowie and Davis will not make the team, and that makes 53 with the ST unit. It’s a young team.

    I like it!!

  • Happy Fathers Day, to all you muthas…

  • SnB Defense


    It seems that its you putting the blame for team defense on a few players (Morrison, SLB and DEs). In fact you have made your disdain for Morrison quite clear. Apparently the coaches also like Morrison and feel he is doing a good job too 😉 In fact one could surmise that you blame the above positions for all of the run problems….especially given your open support for the DTs.

    On the other hand, I have also spoken about the lack of a stout run-stopper at the defensive end position and the lack of a consistent SLB. I am happy that the Raiders at least drafted Shaughnessy. Its a move in the right direction although I was hoping for a bigger guy like a Jarron Gilbert, Mitch King or Tyson Jackson type of DE.

  • SnB Defense

    Priesttj & Lefty12,

    I don’t understand what you mean by having agendas or “fantasy football” type of analysis. I happen to believe that numbers don’t tell the whole story…but they make for one helluva an opening paragraph.

    We are not talking about a team that was middle of the pack….We are talking about a team that was 2nd worst to the Lions giving up 159 yards per game on the ground. The front 7 is the group that is responsible for defensing the run. To suggest that this group is beyond having a discussion too me would be “drinking the kool-aid”. I also believe that blaming Rob Ryan for EVERYTHING is a little “fantasy footballish” thinking.

    There have been few successfull teams in the NFL that are able to win consistently with a sketchy run defense. Since run defense does matter in the NFL, I feel that this is something to talk about and talk about extensively…..even if it sounds repetitive. Apparently others feel this way as Tom Cable, Kirk Morrison and others have been questioned about it extensively. Guys like Tommy Kelly, Warren and SAnds have not necessarily received rave reviews for their “outstanding” play. And yes, like JHill has discussed, the defensive end, linebackers have not held up either.

    So, I would rather continue to have discussions about a run defense that has been a disaster for 6 years….as opposed to just complaining about press coverage about D-HB, Mitchell and Al Davis.

    BTW, if Marshall does anything positive….hopefully he will get the linebackers to start saying FRONT 7 as opposed to back 7!

  • Happy Father’s day to all the fathers of the Nation. Just a quick chime in from Abq, New Mexico.

    So to spur the conversation, gun to your head, who has a better ROOKIE year, DHB or Murphy?