By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, August 1st, 2009 at 12:26 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Quick hits from Saturday morning’s practice session:
– Practice was heavy in red zone work, and again plays were not carried out to their conclusion _ sort of like watching a batting practice where the hitter loads and prepares as if he’s going to strike, and then watches the pitch go by every time.
Or a jump-shooter who works on his form all the way up to the point where he rises for the shot _ and then holds on to the ball.
We’ll have at least some idea come Monday if the approach is paying off. Flash back to the Art Shell season in 2006, when the offense continually made its way to the line of scrimmage, then disbanded in confusion, went back to the huddle and started over. It happened all the time, the offense never jelled, and the season was a disaster.
When the Raiders start hitting Monday, they’ve already positioned themselves for every play they’ll run in practice and snapped the ball.
As tedious as it can be to watch for an outsider (and for you to read about), it’s an approach worth trying considering the way the Raiders have started the season the past few years.
– If the dress rehearsals make no difference, it’s simply another wrinkle which will probably be junked, much as Lane Kiffin’s morning-night-afternoon practice rotation was this season. (The Raiders would practice in the morning and at 7 p.m. on double days, always followed by a single practice in the mid-afternoon).
In 2007 and 2008, Kiffin and the players talked about how the practice schedule offered better recovery time, was more conducive to learning and helped keep players healthy.
A year later, Cable believes the approach made the Raiders too soft.
– The Raiders are getting maximum reps by putting the first team offense against the first team defense on one field and the second team offense and the second team defense squaring off on the other.
Quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett and Cable were with the first team, passing game coordinator Ted Tollner with the second team.
– Interesting wrinkle in a goal line defense _ the linebackers were Jon Alston, Ricky Brown and Thomas Howard, with Kirk Morrison watching from the back of the end zone.
– Lorenzo Neal was limping around at one point, favoring an ankle, but the fact that he never came off the field indicates it’s probably not worth worrying about.
– Tommy Kelly had his fifth offsides offense in five practices, with Tony Stewart getting a false start.
– Watched linebackers run a drill where they hit a blocking sled, moved laterally to a boulder-sized ball, pushed off the ball, and then ran into one of their fellow linebackers with a blocking pad.
Coach Mike Haluchak wanted to see a low center of gravity against the sled, lifting it into the air, then use both hands to push off the ball.
No lost a battle to the ball, something which happened more than once to former Raider Tyler Brayton, who occasionally wound up on the ground.
– No sign of Derrick Burgess, and Cable isn’t discussing it other than to say the Raiders are moving on with their season. He declined to say if Burgess is being fined.
– In passing drills against no defense, Darrius Heyward-Bey had occasionally lacked fluidity and struggled to catch the ball. Not on every play, mind you, but at present he’s less consistent than fellow rookie Louis Murphy.
More notes and quotes to come later before the afternoon session . . .