By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, August 3rd, 2009 at 11:40 am in Oakland Raiders.
About four hours to go until the Raiders put on the pads for the first time.
Coach Tom Cable’s unique approach of having eight “dress rehearsals” stressing fundamentals, alignment and footwork has given today’s session a heightened excitement level for not only the players, but the media as well.
You understand why Cable was doing it, but it didn’t make the sessions easy to watch.
Other than seeing some of the first individual battles of camp and getting an idea of the depth chart, we’ll also get an initial idea of how the approach paid off. If all goes according to plan, there will be none of the confusion in between snaps on offense and defense that has marked camps of years past, in particularly the Art Shell camp of 2006. In theory, it should be crisp and well executed. There are no excuses for not knowing where to line up.
– In the limited amount of passing drills we’ve seen _ against no defenders _ JaMarcus Russell has thrown the ball much better than he did in the mandatory minicamp and OTAs. Will that carry over against live defenders? He’s carrying himself like it’s his team, and that’s a good thing. The next step is playing like it consistently.
– Chaz Schilens has been easily the most impressive receiver so far, and the guess here is he’ll continue that way.
– What’s up with Jay Richardson? Cable says not to read too much into the rotations during the “learning phase,” but Richardson was getting almost no work with the irst team and sometimes not with the second team.
– How will Darrius Heyward-Bey bounce back from a rough second practice Sunday? It’s only one practice, and it’s way too early to where he’s at. I seem to remember Cliff Branch dropping everything in sight when he first arrived and that worked out fine. Same with Jerry Rice. Same with Rickey Dudley. Impossible to know where Heyward-Bey is headed.
– Will Mike Mitchell load up and hit somebody? I remember Eric “Crazy” Johnson getting overexcited in his first practice and crushing Dudley. Cable doesn’t want to see any of that from Mitchell, but you’ve got to think the rookie wants to show why he was drafted in the second round.
– Will Oren O’Neal suit up and hit somebody, or will the Raiders wait awhile longer?
– Derrick Burgess won’t be there, and that’s a big error on his part. The problem with being out of camp is he is driving his own value down because know one knows if he can still play. Word would get out if he was in Napa and showing a good burst. And Al Davis isn’t going to give him away.
Adam Schefter’s “tweet” that the Raiders are looking for third and fourth round picks sounds acceptable, but you don’t dump him for anything less than that.
– Former Raiders’ exec Mike Lombardi had some thoughts on Raiders coach Tom Cable and working for Al Davis in his column in the National Football Post.
I’ll check in via Twitter when I get to Napa and have a post-practice blog this evening.