By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, August 7th, 2009 at 8:33 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News and notes from Friday afternoon’s practice as relayed by beat writer Steve Corkran and writers who contributed to transcribing group interviews:
– After a penalty-filled session Thursday night and a single session that didn’t meet up with the expectations of coach Tom Cable Friday, he conceded for the first time his team wasn’t up to par.
“Not really sharp today, you can tell we’re hitting that camp wall if you will and we have to kind of push through that,” Cable said. “How you regroup kind of answers how you are doing, how you are developing as a football team.”
– Justin Fargas agreed with Cable’s “wall” assessment.
“You could see it. In the two-minute drill, we weren’t that sharp,” Fargas said. “The intensity kind of tapered off. The defense didn’t fall off, we didn’t respond to their intensity.”
– No changes in terms of injuries. Those who did not practice included wide receiver Javon Walker, tackle Khalif Barnes, guard Robert Gallery, lineman Mark Wilson and cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Johnson.
– There was one live session with, as Kirk Morrison hinted, “tackling to the ground,” but Cable wasn’t willing to divulge how often that would occur through the remainder of camp.
– Defensive coordinator John Marshall was made available to the media for the first time, said he watched every game over the last two years “three or four times” and stressed fundamentals.
“I think, obviously, you gentlemen and ladies know, that we need to improve the run (defense),” Marshall said. “That has everything to do with technique, and it has a whole ot to do with attitude and tackling. Those are areas, disengating blockers, fundamentals . . . better fundamentals.”
– Marshall on the hallmarks of one of his defenses: “I’d have to say that being detailed, doing the small things, fundamentally sound and we will bring pressure. We will bring pressure.”
– Will Asomugha be allowed to shadow the opponent’s top receiver? “That depends on the opponent,” Marshall said.
– Marshall on Al Davis: “I know he knows defense. The great thing is he is like me. He’s long in the tooth and he’s old school. It’s line up, there’s your guy, cover him. And there goes the ball, you go out there and tackle him. There’s the blocker, you knock his butt off and go to the ball. . . . keep it simple and play hard. And he’s very smart. He knows his football, believe me.”
– What about all the man-to-man pressure the Raiders play?
“I’ll tell you what, in my 30 years and 12 or 13 years of being a coordinator, I don’t think I’ve been blessed with a team that has the corners that can run like these men can do,” Marshall said. “I’d have to say this is the fastest group of corners and coverage people that I have had. They are good, talented group.”
– Running back Michael Bush on the three-way competition between himself, Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden:
“We all know that we want that No. 1 spot. Basically it’s a way for us pushing each other on the field . . . sometimes, we bring it on the field as far as joking around and having fun . . . but it’s still a competition and I think that’s what makes us better.”
Bush even supported Fargas’ grandiose vision of three 1,000 yard backs.
“With the fullbacks that we have, we’re going to rock things with Lorenzo (Neal) and Big O (Oren O’Neal). He’s back to being 100 percent, as you see. He’s dropping his pads and being that hammer tha the was in 2007 . . . the zone scheme is made to have at least two 1,000-yard backs. It’s possible.”
Tight end Brandon Myers, a sixth-round pick out of Iowa, was selected in the sixth round of the draft becasue of his blocking skill skill and the potential to free Zach Miller in the passing game. He’s also begun to show up as a receiver.
“We knew we were getting something as a blocker, both as a run blocker and a pass protector,” Cable said. “The route stuff has been a bonus.”
Additional practice notes as relayed by Steve Corkran:
– Shane Lechler launched a punt that carried _ get this _ 108 yards. The ball traveled 75 yards in the air and sailed over Justin Miller’s head before it started bouncing. Miller, primarily a kickoff return specialist, looked as if he would be OK with never returning another punt in his life.
– Nick Miller, a darkhorse candidate as an undrafted free agent, worked on both punt returns and kickoff returns.
– Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey fought off an illegal bump and made a catch on a crossing route that was flagged by officials at practice as a defensive foul.
– Wide receiver Jonathan Holland made a diving catch in front of Stanford Routt and added a 50-yard over-the-shoulder grab from Bruc eGradkowski over Justin Miller. Holland also drove Darrick Brown 10 yards back with a downfield block.
– Defensive end Trevor Scott was handled by Mario Henderson again, but broke through on one occasion for a sack, getting past Henderson and tight end Darryl Strong.
– Quarterback JaMarcus Russell continued to make some decisions that seemed questionable, but occasionally made them profitable, at one point threading a pass to Louis Murphy into the teeth of double coverage.
– Twitter reports by Morrison and running back Darren McFadden hinted at a “tackle-the-ground” practice, but were largely exaggerated.
– Two days after being crushed by Bush on a blocking drill, linebacker Ricky Brown returned the favor by breaking through in a team session around Mario Henderson and stopping bush in his tracks with a chest-high blow at the line of scrimmage.