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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

  • Raider-405

    This was from Peter King’s Article today. I am can’t say I am a little surprised, but I wonder if this is still the case with Kelly and Sands
    -

    “I’ll tell you the real reason,” his friend Warren Sapp said over the weekend. “Because it’s not the same for the veterans anymore. The NFL doesn’t need us. In this NFL, the old vets don’t factor in. The kids don’t listen to nobody. Nobody! My last year in Oakland, I’d try to talk to some of the kids. Tommy Kelly, Terdell Sands. But they had no interest. I thought the ghosts in that building were so valuable, but none of the young guys cared. Once in a while, one of the old legends would come in the building, or make a trip. Jack Tatum would be around, and I’d say, ‘You know who that dude is? You know how he played?’ And the kids would be like, ‘Nah, I don’t care.’

  • hwnrdr

    Good Morning Nation!!!
    405…if that is true on what Sapp said, those guys should be ashamed of themselves…haha!

  • Raider-405

    – Good morning Raider Nation –

  • DIRT-LOT FOOTBALL

    GOOD MORNING SPORT’S FANS,405, HWNDR, IT’S THE MONEY BOY’S AND GIRLES, THIS IS WHY A ROOKIE SALERY CAP IS NEEDED, THIS KID DETROIT DRAFTED / SIGHNED IS MAKING MORE MONEY THAN TOM BRADY ( I THINK , AT LAST LOOK) WHY SHOULD THEY LISTEN, TO ANYONE BUT THERE AGENT…

  • Raider-405

    Sapp blows soo much smoke literally and figuratively, then again when it comes to Tommy and Terdell… THOSE are the two guys that I wouldnt put it past them.

    Wouldnt hold much weight if it were say Nnandi making those comments….

  • DIRT-LOT FOOTBALL

    4EVA,NOMOREFARGAS,GOOD DAY 2 U GENTELMAN..

  • 4evaRaider

    I’ve stated many times during many games that Sands has NO technique,especially around the goal line.He dosent bulldoze 2 disrupt the O-line and usually plays patty-cake with O-linemen.I thought 2myself how can he be in the NFL for 9 years and have NO technique??? Well it must be true cause all the talk on D has been about basics and scheme.Maybe all Sands and his ilk need is a good teacher.With Marshall and Board we may find that Kelly Sands and others will be vastly improved,imo Its June and I’ll have another!!!

  • hwnrdr

    You got a point there, 4eva….

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

    Wait, wait, wait! (and good mornin!). Sands and Kelly treated Sapp like the blowhard POS that we all now know him to be, and yet we are supposed to be hating on Kelly and Sands? Or the rest of the youngsters?

    Kudos to Al for finding some young talent that can recognize when a “veteran” is only playing for the $$$, is two-faced, and doesn’t have any game left.

    Basically, the “kids” treated Sapp like we treat Boberto Ignatowski.

  • DIRT-LOT FOOTBALL

    COACHING AND CONDITIONING4 THE D-LINE.

  • 4evaRaider

    thats what we really need Dirt-Lot,imo

  • 4evaRaider

    Bo I wasnt hating on them but I think there is R-O-O-M 4 improvment.Well I must take daughter 2 work bbl NATION!!!

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

    4eva, I agree with your take on Sands. I was replying to Hwnrdr. Sands and Kelly both need to make more of their talent, but I have no regrets about them kissing off Sapp.

    I bet they have a good idea who Tatum is, they just didn’t want to listen to a fake ass Raider talk about old school lessons…

  • hwnrdr

    BSJ: I hear you on that point. Sapp was hear just for the money. But…if Sapp was trying to be a leader, and they blew him off because he was a POS, then maybe they produced their own bad work ethic. i’m just saying…
    Kelley and Sands need to really improve this year and hopefully Marshall and Board can improve them this year.

  • DIRT-LOT FOOTBALL

    I AGREE I THINK BO,SAPP IS NOT THE IDEAL GUY TO BE GIVING ADVICE,BUT WHAT IF THESE GUY’S ARE THINKING WITH THE RAIDER’S RECENT RECORD,WHY SHOULD WE LISTEN 2 ANYBODY, THERE WILL BE A NEW COACH IN A YEAR OR 2,ANOTHER SYSTEM, I AM JUST GOING OUT EVEY WEEK NOT 2 GET HURT, GET MY MONEY..

  • hwnrdr

    With this economy and the money they make…shame on them if they don’t want to work hard like the rest of us…but then again…I know football, along with all other sports have now become a business, unlike before, but it is still a team sport and a team only works if every member contributes and works hard…if they blow it off and just collect a paycheck…
    Sorry…just venting out loud!

  • OAKlifer

    Morning Nation!!!!!

    WE WILL SWEEP DENVER!!!!

    WE WILL BEAT SANDY EGGO!!!!!

    JR WILL LOOK LIKE A TRUE #1 !!!!!

    BOBERT will be owned!!!! ALL thing to look forward too as we wait for our season to get under way!!!!

    PLAYOFF BOUND!!!!!!

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

    hwnrdr Says:
    June 22nd, 2009 at 6:54 am
    BSJ: I hear you on that point. Sapp was hear just for the money. But…if Sapp was trying to be a leader, and they blew him off because he was a POS, then maybe they produced their own bad work ethic. i’m just saying…
    Kelley and Sands need to really improve this year and hopefully Marshall and Board can improve them this year.

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

    I think Rob Ryan was overly tolerant of poor work habits, and Kelly and Sands (among others) should be held accountable under the new defensive staff. Board in particular is a far better example to follow than Sapp.

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

    Hey Lefty12 and Priesttj are you guys done jerking each other off yet? That was a sad display Friday night, lol.

    You are so good!

    No you are!

    I know, I know and the rest of them are so dumb!

    Exactly!

    I love you man!

    I love you too!

    jerkjerkjerkjerk

  • jhill

    R U doing your jerk dance Dakota?

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

    OF COURSE it’s all about the coaching and attitude. You see it all over sports, so why wouldn’t it apply in the NFL. There is a reason we haven’t been shyt since our last REAL coach left, Jon Gruden. There is a reason why SD loses 2 games with Marty, and everyone knows they don’t have a chance with Norv. Why Tomjonovich quit, and PJ takes a team to the finals.

    I’ll say it again, maybe we get lucky like Pittsburgh did with Tomlin, and our unknown guy Cable turns out to be a real leader.. But if Cable doesn’t work out, it’s time to spend the 5 million and get Cowher, Dungy, or Gruden in here!

  • 4evaRaider

    I bet they have a good idea who Tatum is, they just didn’t want to listen to a fake ass Raider talk about old school lessons…

    I’ll buy that Bo

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

    “..if Cable doesn’t work out…” Don’t you mean WHEN Cable doesn’t work out?

    Although there are those on this blog that compare him to John Madden, LMFAO.

  • RaiderRockstar

    good morning 4eva, Dirt Lot, Hwnrdr, BSJ …

  • RaiderRockstar

    good morning OAKlifer, Jhill, Dakota, 405 …

  • hwnrdr

    Good Morning Rockstar…

  • 4evaRaider

    I just love Dakota’s cinema,jerkjerk

  • 4evaRaider

    Hey!!! RR

  • jhill

    I’m not going to bet against Cable, although I do approach the situation with EXTREME caution. I think I’ll have an idea of which way it’s going to go after the 1st 3 plays on offense.

  • jhill

    Wassup RRS …

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

    jhill Says:
    June 22nd, 2009 at 8:12 am
    I’m not going to bet against Cable, although I do approach the situation with EXTREME caution. I think I’ll have an idea of which way it’s going to go after the 1st 3 plays on offense.
    _________________________________

    My worst nightmare: Fargas up the middle, Fargas up the middle, pass to Fargas….

    punt

  • RaiderRockstar

    I’m interested to see what the offensive strategy will be. Cable said the offense isn’t changing much, just the terminology. So basically we’re keeping the Kiffin/Knapp style that Russell grew accustomed to the first 2 years and infuse some sort of downfield Air Coryell style brought in by Tollner & Hackett. These two guys often get the label “conservative” but Cable was anything but conservative last year. should be interesting. hopefully it’s not a disaster having the young Russell learn so much and change so many parts of his game after only 16 starts – most of which were NOT impressive

  • ct raider

    #1 i hate the lakers but congrats.
    #2 being elected prez doesn’t deserve a monument or we’d have 44 monuments. 43 previous prez. happens every 4 or 8 years and will always.
    #3 Bill Clinton was first black prez
    #4 DHB and a hamstring… should be fined. Wish owners would put in clause with major penalties for hamstring pulls. It’s 100% preventable. Take your job seriously or you’ll pull a hammy. DHB = Jerry Porter the 2nd.
    #5 glad to see Cable called a practice for wr, te and qbs. Oh, I mean jRuss called the practice (like he has an ounce of initiative)
    #6 Ellis huge pick up.
    #7 Finally got direct tv back (back in the nutmeg state). It’s being hooked up wed! can’t wait. hate cable (television … not tom).
    #8 O line seems to have nastiness. :)
    #9 pieces in place except DTs and maybe qb. we’ll see. Hope Jruss has break out season but still have negative thoughts.

    Good to be back!

    CT RAIDER

  • jhill

    Mine is slightly different …

    Fargas out of the I to the left for 2 yds. Dmac in the slot, with DHB and Schillens on the outside … hand off to Fargas off tackle for 4 yds. PA fake to Fargas out of the I, JRuss hit McFadden in stride for a big gainer …. wait, hold on …. laundry on the field, Cornell Green gets called for holding. Screen pass to McFadden for 5 yds.

    PUNT!

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

    Dakota, you seem to have your curmudgeon hat on this morning…didn’t you get sastified on Daddy’s Day? Or did your son come home with a new Kimbo Slice tattoo?

  • OAKlifer

    it’s time to spend the 5 million and get Cowher, Dungy, or Gruden in here!
    **************************************

    Honestly Gruden?!?!?!?!?! this guy is good at best….He was a product of Rich Gannon and in Tampa I could have took that Dungy team to the SB…what has he done since then??? He didnt want to be here then I dont want him here now….unless he was in the front office or a coordinator!!! this guy is kind of a joke to me!!!Dungy is done he is a God fearing man who belives in life after football and wants to be a family man!!! how ever he gets my vote!!….But Cowher is a legit option the guy has been on vacation for a few years just taking it all in from the outside see’s what teams are doing and will have his choice….with us he has alot of upside……the rest of the division is in shambels…with the exception of KC they might be looking good in a few years..SD is past its prime(LT). And Donks…….LMFAO!!!!!! the DONKS LOL!!!! and we have a young talented roster…plus russel is almost as fat as big ben!!!

    With all that said:
    IN CABLE I TRUST HE WILL LEAD US!!!!!!!!!1

    PLAYOFF BOUND!!!!!!!!!!

  • jhill

    I thought JR had a decent rookie season, RRS …

    If the games had been called all year like the last few games of the season, then JRs numbers would have been much better.

    For example, how ridiculous was it that the guy was 11-12, and could get pass plays called? If you have a QB that rolling like that, shouldn’t he have at least 25 pass attempts?

  • ct raider

    Tom Cable! He’s someone I’d be happy to fight along side.

    ct raider

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

    Bo Schembechler Jackson Says:
    June 22nd, 2009 at 8:21 am
    Dakota, you seem to have your curmudgeon hat on this morning…didn’t you get sastified on Daddy’s Day? Or did your son come home with a new Kimbo Slice tattoo?
    __________________________

    No tatoos, but he did put a dent in my Tahoe. Happy Father’s Day!!!!

  • ct raider

    took Cowher almost 20years to win a bowl

    Gruden won one with Dungy’s team

    Dungy won only one with a great dominate O and never with a great dominate D

    all over rated.

    ct raider

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

    Dungy and Gruden might be overrated, but they are still ten times better than Tom Cable.

  • 4evaRaider

    Good 2 Have ya back Ct Raider

  • jhill

    I, personally am a Gruden fan. He GLOWS when he talks about the Raiders. Still says we, us, and stuff like that. Seeing him defend the Raiders on draft day against all the other clowns like Mayock scored big with me. I was for the trade of Gruden at the time. Tampa made us an offer we couldn’t refuse. So what he didn’t take Al’s first under market offer. We all know how Al can be sometimes. Gruden NEVER had talent to work with like this team has now. It’s the attitude he brought to the team that I’m talking about. I would absolutely welcome Gruden and his attitude back to Oakland instead of the crap we’ve seen since he left.

  • ct raider

    What up dakota. long time my friend… maybe 9mos. my best friend is a laker fan. Fn aholes… all of you guys. I’m a dodger fan and had to watch kobe at the game last night on espn.

    ct raider

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

    Anyone catch the Sporting News interview with Nnamdi. It is a trascript of a radio interview, and listening to the audio of Aso is awesome. Such a well spoken and mature sounding man, as one would expect.

    WTF, why don’t just post the thing…I like the part about Russell: “He’ll hopefully develop more of the mental part of his game and be able to lead us in that way on the field.”

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

    http://www.sportingnews.com/nfl/article/2009-06-21/qa-raiders-cb-nnamdi-asomugha-0

    Q&A with … Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha

    When Pro Bowler Nnamdi Asomugha signed a three-year, $45.3 million contract in February, it made him the highest-paid defensive back in league history. He talked with Sporting News Radio’s Doug and Ryan Stewart (2 Live Stews) about DeAngelo Hall, Lane Kiffin, JaMarcus Russell and whether the Raiders can raise their performance after six consecutive losing seasons.

    Q: How does it feel to wake up every morning knowing you’re one of the highest-paid players in the NFL?
    A: Of course it feels good. But you’ve still got to perform on the field. I don’t think they’re paying you for what you’ve done. I always think they’re paying you for your potential and the things they expect out of you. But it feels great.

    Q: What are your thoughts on DeAngelo Hall and his brief time in Oakland?
    A: When he got here, everyone was expecting big things. Of course, I was expecting big things from D-Hall. I loved his personality. So when he got here, he started talking and saying that we were the best. And I believed that we were, if not the best, then right up there.

    Now when the season started, I remember DeAngelo would tell me in the middle of games, “I didn’t know you guys played this much man-to-man.” It can get frustrating, because I’ve been frustrated with it. I don’t think DeAngelo was prepared for that much man-to-man. He’s a man/zone guy. He likes to see the ball coming out, make plays and do that sort of thing. I don’t know if our schemes utilized his skills to the best of his ability.

    Q: What did you think of Lane Kiffin?
    A: I was fine with Lane. I don’t know how many guys on the team actually believed him and followed him in that way. He was a great motivator, but I think that was the thing that lacked: Players being completely convinced in what he was talking about and his goals.

    Me, myself, I was fine with Lane. I thought Lane came in and was in the process of turning around what was a dismal situation. I had no problems with him. What he’s doing in college at Tennessee now, I just laugh every time I see him on SportsCenter. I just think he’s just trying to get everybody riled up and get some emotions going. He’s just got to back it up now. I wish him success there.

    Q: Do you see the light at the end of the tunnel with this organization?
    A: The funny thing is I see the light at the end of the tunnel—you can call me crazy—but I see it at the beginning of every year. So I come into every year and think this is going to be the year we’re going to turn it around. We’ve got some guys back. The scheme, the things we’re doing, it should work. And then we go out and we haven’t been able to put it together.

    Again, I’m coming into this year (with the same optimism). We brought back the coach (Tom Cable) that was with us for the last half of the year. It helps because you’re not learning too much and you don’t have guys always trying to prove something to a new coach. It should be a better year just because we’ve got that growth.

    Q: Do you see Jeff Garcia pushing JaMarcus Russell as the starting QB?
    A: JaMarcus is the starter. He’s the first pick of the draft a few years ago, so of course he’s going to be the starter. (But) I don’t see Jeff Garcia backing down. He wants to play, he wants to be on the field.

    And it’s great that JaMarcus has this person behind him that’s as hungry as he is to get on the field and make plays. Now, 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.

    Q: Do you still drive that 1997 blue Maxima to work?
    A: You must have been reading that article. The sad thing is, it’s not a blue Maxima; it’s gold. Everyone that knows about the Maxima is so disappointed. Yeah, I still drive it. That’s my car.

    Q: What else is in the garage?
    A: I’ve got another car, but it’s a 2004 S500. I hang onto things. When change is needed, I change. But if it’s not needed, I just stick onto it.

  • RaiderRockstar

    DHB and a hamstring… should be fined. Wish owners would put in clause with major penalties for hamstring pulls. It’s 100% preventable. Take your job seriously or you’ll pull a hammy. DHB = Jerry Porter the 2nd.

    ***

    good morning and welcome back CT.

    harsh words for DHB. be fined? he hasn’t even signed his contract yet! I suppose Al Davis could put in some sort of injury clause in his contract, but he might not sign it. He never had injury problems at Maryland.

    We don’t know how serious the injury is anyways. Cable or DHB’s agent might be advising him to sit as a precaution so he won’t hurt his hammy even worse. His agent knows that if DHB spends his rookie season on IR he’ll make less money through playing time and stat incentives. Plus another WR could have a breakout year (Chaz Schilens maybe?) and steal his starting spot in the line up.

    DHB = Jerry Porter? come on man. It’s not even preseason yet and we’ve never seen this kid play in a Raiders uniform. He might be a stud.

  • ct raider

    4evaRaider: thanks bro! been extremely busy then i forgot my password and didn’t want to hassle w/this new set up (oaktrib).

    I think Cable brings a man’s man attitude and not a more whiney (sp?) one.

    He’s like a construction guy who gives a look like “what? you need help with that?” attitude. Keeps people responsible and accountable without whineness.

    that’s my impression anyway.

    ct raider

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

    That being said, I don’t want Gruden anywhere near Russell. The first time Gruden saw Russell’s bloated gut he would bench him in favor of Andrew Walter. And once Russell got his weight under control, Gruden would still keep him on the bench because Russell fumbles the ball every other time he drops back to pass. Russell can’t even seem to take the heat from Jeff Garcia, can you imagine how he would fold under the glaring eye of Jon Gruden?

    We need Russell to succeed if we have any chance at dominating the NFL once again, and I don’t think Gruden is the answer.

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

    What is going on CT Raider? Hopefully we get the Celtics-lakers matchup next June. Both teams healthy this time…see what happens.