News and notes from Saturday’s interview sessions:
If JaMarcus Russell is bothered by the growing national perception that he’s an underachiever and approaching bust status, he hides it well.
When Russell met with the media Friday, he talked about the demands of being a starting NFL quarterback and No. 1 overall pick and appeared to understand that some of the criticism would be over the top.
The heat Russell takes seemed to bother left tackle Mario Henderson more than it did Russell. Henderson, responsible for Russell’s blind side on the field, has his back off the field.
“I can be sitting at home watching TV and hear that, ‘JaMarcus hasn’t done this, he hasn’t done that,” ” Henderson said. “People don’t know that he has made such great strides since coming into the league, it’s amazing.
“He came into camp late, he only played the last three or four games our rookie year, last year technically was his rookie year, so the strides he has made are amazing. He’s more of a vocal leader and it’s a great feeling to see how he has matured.”
Russell conceded to being a little heavy, but Henderson doesn’t see a problem in that area, either.
“He could have been one of those guys who said, ‘Everyone’s against me,’ he could have been one of the guys who didn’t work hard,” Henderson said. “Yet, he took all the negativity a nd what people are saying and made it a positive.
“He did a great job getting his weight down. JaMarcus is a big guy. Somebody sees JaMarcus and they say, ‘Yeah, JaMarcus looks like he’s out of shape.’ He’s 6-5, you know what I’m saying? He’s a big guy but he’s not (fat).”
Wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins sees a difference in the way Russell carries himself.
“He’s more vocal. He’s more animated. He’s more into reads,” Higgins said. “If he does something wrong, he’ll say `My bad.’ If you do something bad he’ll tell you. It’s more of a relationship.”
— Ricky Brown, the terminally mild-mannered linebacker who has a bit of an edge once he’s in the middle of things, surmises things may be a little different Monday after being asked why he hasn’t gotten into any scrapes.
“I am sure when shoulder pads come on something will happen,” Brown said. “Get those chemicals mixing around.”
— Although Brown as on the field with Thomas Howard and Jon Alston during one goal line sequence, he believes he and Kirk Morrison will eventually be middle linebackers on the eventual goal line unit.
— Cable continued to stress first- and second team designations mean little during the four days of dress rehearsals
“There’s really no competition like that going on,” Cable said. “So, that’s a good question again for next weekend.”
— It was all hush-hush a year ago when Lane Kiffin warned reporters not to let on that Darren McFadden was being used in the Wildcat formation, even though it was an open secret a handful of teams were doing it and that McFadden had done it at Arkansas.
So we can probably assume there will be some Wildcat this year, but it hasn’t been shown yet.
“I think there’s a whole package of that you can do,” Cable said. “Right now what I want to do is just get our base installation in and then the situations taught, which is where we’re at right now, and then from there, that’s down the road. That’s kind of extra.”
Another solid theory _ layer in the fundamental plays and offense before getting clever.
Will check in with a brief post following the second practice . . .