By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, August 4th, 2009 at 1:15 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Quick hits and news and notes from Tuesday morning’s practice:
– It came with an audible crack, with safety Mike Mitchell properly timing up a short screen to running back Gary Russell, and giving a sneak preview of mayhem to come.
At least that’s what Mitchell and the Raiders hope.
Mitchell, by order of coach Tom Cable, didn’t finish the blow, and smiled afterward when asked how it would have been different had he finished the hit.
“He’s going to be on his back and I’m going to be up yelling,” Mitchell said. “That’s how it usually ends.”
The usual tactic, Mitchell said, is to drive through the target rather than simply hit it.
“I’m trying to hit the person behind him, not him,” Mitchell said. “That’s just how I play. I don’t talk any trash or anything like that. I’m just a physical player. When it’s game time, I’ll let that speak when I play.”
Mitchell is making up for lost time. He wasn’t allowed to be involved in much of the Raiders offseason because his class at Ohio University was not done with school, an arcane NFL rule considering he left as a junior and was embarking on a professional career.
“What I like is he has really committed to the learning part of it,” Cable said. “He’s always trying to ask questions, always around with his coaches. He recognized the fact that he missed all that and he’s making up for it, and doing fine. He’s obviously an intelligent, guy, but just his want to, to press it, go after it and find out and get the answers has been the most important thing.”
Mitchell also made some nice plays in coverage, one in particular to break up a pass intended for rookie tight end Brandon Myers.
Like first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey, whom Mitchell now counts as one of his closest friends, he spent much of the late offseason in Alameda rehabbing a hamstring injury. For both men, so far, so good. Neither has had a problem with the hamstring.
More news, notes and quick hits:
– Too early to tell if it’s a real competition or something more cosmetic, but Ricky Brown got a lot of work with the first team at middle linebacker in place of Kirk Morrison.
Cable said the situation was competitive and the Raiders were simply looking for the best combination. When asked if that could include Morrison moving outside, Cable said, “I don’t know about that yet, but we have talked about it.”
– Left tackle Khalif Barnes was headed for his first-ever MRI after teammate James Marten blocked Ryan Boschetti into his left leg. Cable said it was an ankle sprain, Barnes said it was his knee and ankle.
“There was a whole lot of weight coming down on my left knee, and I twisted it a little bit,” Barnes said.
– While Barnes seemed doubtful about moving from left to right, Mario Henderson didn’t think it would be a huge adjustment.
“I like the position. But if I have to go to the right side I’ll do the same thing no matter what position I’m and try to make the best of it,” Henderson.
A switch isn’t likely. If Henderson gets through camp healthy, he’ll be the left tackle.
– Quarterback Jeff Garcia was rehabbing a calf strain following practice and hoped to return to practice soon. Garcia missed time with the same injury last season in Tampa Bay about the time it was rumored Brett Favre could be coming to the Bucs.
“I was just doing some extra conditioning after practice a couple days ago and just felt it start to pull a little bit,” Garcia said. “It was one of those things where I’ve experienced it in the past, and I didn’t want it to happen the way it happened like last year. It was the same calf, the same place.”
– The view from the 30-yard box suggests that with Garcia out, Charlie Frye looks to be the best option to be the backup.
Frye ended practice with a roll to his right and a flip to Brandon Myers for a touchdown.
“A nice play, but we should have had a score three players earlier,” Frye said.
Frye also threw a nice deep completion to Chaz Schilens, who leaped for the catch between Jason Horton and Mitchell, and had a swing route to Louis Murphy for good yardage, advancing the ball inside the 10-yard line.
– Nnamdi Asomugha left briefly, his hand on his right hip, but returned after being stretched by a member of the training staff.
“My hip flexor was tight,” Asomugha said. “Nothing gets by y’all.”
– Oren O’Neal practiced in back-to-back padded practices, a good sign after missing all of last season with tears to his ACL, LCL and MCL.
– Yes, there were a couple of conspicuous drops by Heyward-Bey, one which had a huge carom effect. Some of his drops have bordered on the spectacular.
“He’s coming along, coming along and just keep giving it to him, keep teaching him how to put the negative play behind him, you know, and that’s kinda’ where we’re at,” Cable said. “But much better today in terms of doing that. He dropped a ball on a go-route, came back and made a big catch on an out-route, so just gotta’ keep pushing him that way.”
– Ex-Raiders guard Steve Wisniewski has been present at the last two practices and said he’ll be out to watch occasionally.
– Shawn Bayes was the Tuesday version of Nick Miller, the smallish receiver who came up with some big plays, including one play when he sunk to his knees to grab a JaMarcus Russell pass. Miller had one drop and was later muttering under his breath for his pass route on a longer throw.
Miller did have one long catch on a throw from Frye, a nice back shoulder grapb over John Bowie
– Russell wasn’t as sharp as he was in the previous practice, missing open receivers occasionally but throwing no interceptions.
– Left end Greg Ellis was rested for much of practice, with Jay Richardson, who was getting second- and third-team work, elevated to the first team.
– Left guard Robert Gallery, a spectator through most of the practices, was instead working out with a member of the athletic training staff and doing agility drills.
– There was a post-practice scuffle that appeared to be between tight end Tony Stewart and linebacker Jon Alston. According to one account, Stewart thought Alston had hit him in the face when the play was over.
Cable said he thought it was nothing, a practical joke. Alston smiled and said he wasn’t involved.
– The running back rotation remains fairly even, with Darren McFadden getting lots of work split wide in some formations. McFadden has dropped catchable balls in each of the last two practices.
– Pass protection appeared to improve slightly, in part because blitzing was less frequent.
– I’ll file a brief post recapping the 4:20 p.m. practice . . .