No need to fake it


News, notes and observations from Wednesday’s padded practice:

— Justin Fargas thought it was one of the better practices he’s been involved in as a member of the Raiders, and in terms of physicality and enthusiasm it was hard to dispute the claim.

You watch enough Raiders football over the past six years, you see a team which often looks as if it’s pretending to be excited and looking to get it over with.

“It’s something that we’ve talked a lot about,” coach Tom Cable said. “Let’s not be pretenders. Let’s bring it out of each other, accept it and play off it. You get your jaw knocked around and you give it back. You get where your team is so competitive and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Defenders celebrated incompletions during seven-on-sevens. Offensive players sprung to their feet and pumped fists after catches. Blocking drills were performed with gusto.

It’s too early to tell how good the Raiders will be in 2009, but if they can string together a lot more practices like this one they’ll at least play like they care. For anyone who saw some of the go-through-the motions fiascos in the season of Lance vs. Al, it’s a step in the right direction.

“I’m sure it looked like that from the outside because you could see it from the inside,” Fargas said. “You could feel it, you could hear it. Guys were excited, guys were physical, competing, not out of control but really competing hard and really bringing each other up. That’s what you need when you’re trying to get better.”

— Jon Alston was involved in his second altercation in two days, this time angering Darren McFadden with a sideline hit that popped McFadden’s helmet off. McFadden fell on his helmet, rose to his feet and flung the ball at Alston.

Alston shoved McFadden, and teammates converged, with Fargas at one point shoving Kirk Morrison. When everyone was separated, Alston stood on one side of the field, with his arms extended, challenging McFadden to meet him.

McFadden termed it a disagreement within the family, no big deal, but a good thing in terms of practice intensity.

“It got a little heated, but that’s a good thing,” McFadden said. “That way you know guys aren’t out there going through the motions.”

Cable didn’t seem overly concerned about Alston’s run of two scuffles in two practices. The linebacker got in a post-practice shoving match with tight end Tony Stewart Monday.

“Well, there’s an edge about you as a football player and as a team,” Cable said. “Some of that’s natural, obviously, in camp and all those sort of things. Jon’s a smart guy. Jon loves to play. He’s very passionate, so you got to let that passion kind of play itself out a little bit.”

— McFadden lost the first fumble of camp that wasn’t on a center exchange, with Tyvon Branch reaching in and pulling the ball out.

“It’s something that we have preached and preached and preached,” Cable said. “Obviously, it’s been an issue in the past. We started turnover circuits today on defense and we just continue to do that. That ball coming out was a product of just getting stripped in there.”

— The physical nature of practice was typified by running back Michael Bush. Bush got the better of a collision with rookie safety Mike Mitchell and during a pass protection drill obliterated the oncoming Ricky Brown.

“You just see his confidence getting better and better and better,” Bush said. “When I watch him every day out here, he’s physical as a runner and now he’s become physical as a protector and that’s what you saw.”

— Another good collision _ Fargas and Mitchell meet in the secondary on an incomplete pass and get up patting each other on the helmet.

— To the untrained eye, it doesn’t look as if Terdell Sands’ weight loss has helped his energy level. He spent most of practice upright and not pressuring the pocket.

— Rookie reciever Darrius Heyward-Bey didn’t match the receiving production of the previous day, but didn’t have any conspicuous drops, either, although he bobbled at least two catches. What Heyward-Bey did do, and what the Raiders are counting on, manifested itself when he dragged two defenders deep and opened up a huge expanse for Louis Murphy, who caught a Bruce Gradkowski pass underneath and got big yardage.

“You saw a bunch of big holes and windows start opening up on the other side away from him,” Cable said. “And that’s what he’s going to get. Now he’s going to have to learn how to play when you’re getting someone down on you and someone on top of you.”

Mitchell got a lecture from defensive backs coach Lionel Washington after the Murphy completion.

— Either Raiders running backs are good blockers or their linebackers aren’t strong blitzers. Whatever the reason, the backs seemed to get the better of the linebackers in a pass protection drill.

Besides Bush’s blow against Brown, there was another play in which McFadden actually drove Sam Williams two yards backward by getting underneath his pad level and driving forward.

Other apparent wins for the offense included Oren O’Neal against Morrison, Louis Rankin over Thomas Howard, Gary Russell over Williams, over Brown and Bush over Thomas Howard.

Defensive wins included Alston spinning past Luke Lawton, Brown over Lorenzo Neal, and Slade Norris on a McFadden whiff.

— Not expecting to see a lot of it during the regular season, but there was one team session heavy on zone blitzing, with Trevor Scott, Sands and Matt Shaughnessy dropping into coverage on separate plays and linebackers and safeties rushing the passer.

Shaughnessy broke up a pass some 20 yards down field.

— In pass rush drills with defensive linemen against offensive linemen, Henderson continued to get the better of Scott.

— Stanford Routt made a terrific interception on a deep ball thrown by Bruce Gradkowski intended for Bruce Gradkowski (Oops. Trying to work to fast. It was Will Franklin).

— Safety Michael Huff, often taken to task here for arriving too late to make a play, made a perfectly timed dive to break up a JaMarcus Russell pass intended for Jonathan Holland.

— Watched more line play than usual, but Russell seemed a bit high with a number of throws.

— Nnamdi Asomugha, pained by a right hip flexor strain Monday, did not practice. Both he and Cable insist it’s nothing to worry about.

— Others who missed practice included LB Isaiah Ekejiuba (shoulder), DT Gerard Warren (illness), G Mark Wilson (back) and CB Chris Johnson (minor knee strain). Robert Gallery (non-football illness) and Javon Walker (PUP) remained with the trainers. Howard rolled an ankle but it did not appear serious.

Here’s how former Raiders quarterback Andrew Walter answered the question of what went wrong in Oakland with the New England media:

“That’s something that people who know that situation, they can judge for themselve. If you do a couple of Google searches, do some research, you can find enough information.”

Asked if going from Oakland to New England was a nice turn of events, Walter said, “I think that’s safe to say.”

— Practices scheduled at 8:20 and 4:30 on Thursday. Presentations by NFL officials regarding rule changes and points of emphasis are scheduled with both the team and media.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • 4evaRaider

    yep the old lore has it that Cliff Branch would stand next 2 Ray Guy and Guy would punt it and Branch would run and field it.Believe it or not

  • RAider O, I’m picking it up today, hope you have a very good Bday, James Bong!!!

  • 4evaRaider

    well 2 tell you da truth


    (I think)

  • NEW YORK – A hacker attack Thursday shut down the fast-growing messaging service Twitter, and Facebook also said it was looking into possible site problems.

    Twitter said in its status blog Thursday that it was “defending against a denial-of-service attack,” in which hackers command scores of computers to a single site at the same time, preventing legitimate traffic from getting through.

    For Twitter users, the outage meant no tweeting about lunch plans, the weather or the fact that Twitter is down.

  • Guy should be in the HOF, but I’m not sure about Branch. Does he have the #s?

  • M Lonetree


    very nice observations about Cliff and the intended future of Darrius.

    how are the life and times young man?

  • jhill

    LOL at the twitter attack …

  • raidertbone

    Crabtree is responsible for the shutdown (everything else about him has already shut down anyway!)

  • DirtyRaccoon

    I got attacked by the twitters on Sunday morning.
    That darn Naga Jolokia (Ghost pepper) got me again!!!

  • TW,

    I hope you like it.

  • DirtyRaccoon

    Twitter’s down??

    Fukkin Fargas!!

  • 4evaRaider

    Cliff Branch deserves 2B in the hall as much or more than any WR except 1 or 2 imo

  • 4evaRaider

    313 lololol

  • 4evaRaider


  • Raider Dell

    4evaRaider thanks for the comment.

    M hope all is well. Are you in Montana?

    I just returned from a long vacation which I termed my “walkabout”. I had a great time. I visited family and friends and had some bubbly and brews at many clubs and blue’s festivals.

    I’m back and it’s been very difficult to be a working man again.

  • AZ Raider

    HOF inducties should not and ARE not just about #’s. It should be about a player/coaches/asst. coaches/owners legacy. Was watching Chronicle Live last night and Greg Papa eluded to the same thing about Tom Flores. Probably never make it, but his legacy says he should. 2 SB’s, first hispanic QB in the AFL and first hispanic Head Coach in NFL.

  • raidertbone

    I’m sorry, it isn’t Crabtree after all … it’s all ANDREW WALTERS’ fault! He’s over there hiding behind Charlie Weiss … but wait, how can Charlie Weiss be in New England and South Bend at the same time? Oh right, it’s Charlie Weiss — he can be in fifty-five hundred places at the same time!

  • Richochet

    Nothing much weaker than running the “Well, so and so had the same problems, and he worked through them.”

    For every ONE WR who ended up being a star, who started out with “dropsies” there are 100 plus WR who started out with dropsies who turned out to be mediocre, or complete busts.

    Every time someone questions a marginal qb, especially a high pick marginal qb, the automatic reply is “Well, Elway and Manning struggled, and now they’re stars.”

    Answer to that is “So what”? Has zero to do with the fact your current qb is in a make or break year, and that your #7 pick is playing like a walk on who’s struggled through out his college days (Like Bey has)

    Yes, Branch worked through it.
    Has zero to do with Bey. Or the other 100 WR on average who don’t make it.
    It’s called fan “grasping for straws”.

  • Raider Dell

    AZ Raider

    Comment is really correct. Most sportswriters have no clue to what the player did to impact a team or the game itself.

    I have always believed former players should have one third of the vote in the Hall of Fame.

  • 4evaRaider

    make that only 1 WR

  • Richochet

    Az Raider: Tom Flores. Probably never make it, but his legacy says he should. 2 SB’s, first hispanic QB in the AFL and first hispanic Head Coach in NFL.
    You mention twice his nationality? What does that have to do with the NFL Hall of Fame?
    Granted, it’s admirable, but someone’s family tree should never come into play when you’re voting on which PLAYER should be in the hall.

    It’s what you did on and off the field, not who you were born to, IMO.

  • raidertbone

    I would hate to make the comparison, at this point, between DHB and the great Cliff Branch. Some WRs are drafted low and produce off the charts; some go high but never quite reach their potential; still others just slog through their careers. What will happen with DHB? Who knows how long he will be wearing Silver and Black anyway? Just don’t anybody try and lean on him too much to make any banging contributions this year!

  • M Lonetree


    your walkabout was no doubt well-deserved. it is criminal to have to re-enter realm of jobhood when life has so much more to offer elsewise.

    yep, up in Missoula. Headed for Yellowstone this weekend for a couple of weeks in that wondrous place (haven’t been there since JFK was pres). then a whitewater trip with my bro-in-law down the Green River (assuming I ain’t been et by a Supervolcano or large mammal) thru Dinosaur country. Got a return to the Grandest of Canyon’s set for a month from now.

  • RaiderRockstar

    -Ricky Brown was at middle linebacker with the first-team defense, relegating Kirk Morrison, who has led the Raiders in tackles the past three seasons, to the second-team.

    “We want to push Kirk and we want to push Ricky,” Cable said. “And we want to get the right combination in there…we just want to give everyone the opportunity when it fits and when they’ve earned it to do that.

    “They’re very similar players. It’s just trying to press the competition as coaches.”

    With Brown considered a better run stopper at MLB than Morrison, and stopping the run better this season is a point of emphasis, it makes you scratch your head.

    “It’s just a competitive environment out there,” Brown said. “Kirk was with the ones yesterday, I was with the ones today. I’m also playing a little bit of SAM.”

    -Paul Gutierrez (Sac Bee)


    your thoughts nation?

  • raidertbone

    Flores was great, as a coach, and I LOVE the man …
    Hall of Fame? No.

  • raidertbone

    Don’t give it too much thought; they’re just mixing things up in practice, that’s all. Come game time, it’s Morrison over Brown, every day!

  • Raider Dell Says:
    August 6th, 2009 at 11:31 am

    His greatest route was the comeback, today they call it a fade. Branch would run off the defender and comeback three to four yards and make the carch along the sideline. The play was so difficult to defend and Stabler honed in this pass with Branch. The play was used when the offense needed yards during the game and it seemed to be a staple of the offense.


    thats what im saying. with a big, explosive guy like DHB you better be in position to wrap up or he will be gone running through armtackles and desperate shoving attempts….good post Dell.

  • 4evaRaider

    not 2 mention opening the windows like Dell said.That is a huge part of it

  • raidertbone

    Catch up with you all later … grabbing myself a late lunch, back on the East Coast.

  • 4evaRaider

    new post

  • AZ Raider

    Richochet Says:
    August 6th, 2009 at 12:06 pm
    Az Raider: Tom Flores. Probably never make it, but his legacy says he should. 2 SB’s, first hispanic QB in the AFL and first hispanic Head Coach in NFL.
    You mention twice his nationality? What does that have to do with the NFL Hall of Fame?
    Granted, it’s admirable, but someone’s family tree should never come into play when you’re voting on which PLAYER should be in the hall.

    It’s what you did on and off the field, not who you were born to, IMO.

    What’s the big deal about MLK then? Are you ok? I’m going to lunch. check back in an hour LOL.

  • Richard Bentley

    Thanks, RR. I know the deal, but what I wanted know was what they were ACTUALLY running in practice.