By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, August 15th, 2009 at 8:27 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Amid speculation the Raiders were looking hard at bringing in another linebacker, they instead signed veteran cornerback Ricky Manning Jr.
Manning immediately got in some work as a nickel cornerback and was told to acquaint himself with strong safety.
That could mean two things: 1) They’re looking to give Stanford Routt a push and realize playing inside isn’t his strength; and 2) They’re protecting themselves at strong safety behind Tyvon Branch in case Mike Mitchell’s hamstring becomes a long-term issue.
Manning failed to get a hand on a ball that went over his head from Bruce Gradkowski to Todd Watson, and was a late arrival on a JaMarcus Russell pass to Johnnie Lee Higgins.
A six-year veteran, Manning played five games with the St. Louis Rams before breaking his ankle and going on injured reserve.
“I’ll get a little bit more comfortable with the defense,’’ Manning said. “I made a mistake or two today. That’s good for me because that means it won’t happen again.”
Manning looks nothing like your classic Raiders cornerback. He’s a sawed-off 5-foot-9 and 193 pounds, probably the most thickly muscled cornerback the Raiders have had since James Hasty came aboard for 12 days in 2001 before changing his mind and retiring.
“I think he’s more of a physical corner than a speed guy, so that might be a little different from what we had in the past, but he’ll help, cause he’s done it before,’’ said Nnamdi Asomugha, who played in all-star games with Manning when both were in high school in Los Angeles.
Cable said Manning’s acquisition had to do with “just getting some fresh legs at the position,’’ but also noted, “He’s a proven guy. He’s here to give us more juice and compete as well.’’
Manning played a big role in getting the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl in the 2003 season, setting up a touchdown with an interception of the Rams’ Marc Bulger in a divisional playoff game and intercepting Donovan McNabb three times in the NFC championship.
He was arrested and charnged with felony battery in 2006 after signing an offer sheet with the Bears, pleaded no contest, and was suspended for one game by the NFL.
He said he had been talking to the Raiders for “a couple of months,’’ and believes he can bring some experience and physicality to the secondary.
“I think bringing in a veteran guy like myself, whether I’m out there, whether I’m pushing guys, is going to help, because I’ve been a part of defenses that have been in the top five,’’ Manning said. “I’ve been to the Super Bowl, so I’ve seen what it takes. If I can bring that character, that image, that would be great.”
Tight end John Paul Fsochi was waived to make room for Manning.
More news, notes and quotes:
– Quarterback Jeff Garcia “left camp to take care of some personal business at home,’’ Cable said.
When asked if Garcia was assessing his future in football or with the Raiders, Cable said, “no, no. Nothing like that at all.’’ He said Cable could be back Sunday and hoped he would participate on some level on the field this week.
Cable said he was concerned by the amount of missed practice time, but wasn’t ready to address whether Garcia was still the backup quarterback or if he was on the verge of being pushed for that status by Gradkowski and Frye.
– Interesting exchange with Cable regarding the use of running back Darren McFadden.
When Cable was asked how close McFadden was to starting and carrying the ball more, Cable said, “I’d say pretty close.’’
When it was suggested fans might want to see McFadden get 20 touches a game, Cable said, “I was thinking more touches than that, but if they want 20, we’ll work on it.
Asked about getting McFadden into a groove with additional carries, Cable said, “I’ll tell you the same thing about Justin Fargas and Michael Bush, too. I’m not going to get into any of that. I know where we’re headed, and you’ll see when we get there.’’
Cable said the third preseason game might give a glimpse of how the running back rotation will actually work.
– Asomugha on what makes wide receiver Chaz Schilens so tough to cover: “He outworks everybody on the team and he’s been like that every since I met him. When he drops a pass he’s upset. He’s fighting, he’s feisty. He’s going to help out.’’
– Guard Robert Gallery said he expects to be turned loose this week in double sessions Tuesday and Wednesday with the 49ers and hopes to play Saturday in the second preseason game.
– A good half hour to 45 minutes after practice ended, quarterback Charlie Frye was by himself on one of the fields, throwing deep balls to a member of the support staff.
– LB Isaiah Ekejiuba said his shoulder briefly came out place when his hand hooked on the helmet of a defender, but that it was popped back in, there was no extensive damage and he thinks he’ll be back soon.
“I’m not worried about it,’’ Ekejiuba said. “I’ve got a lot more range of motion than yesterday. A couple of days and I’ll be good to go.’’
– Others who did not practice Saturday included WR Louis Murphy (hip), G Marcus Johnson (calf), C John Wade (stinger), DT Terdell Sands (quad), LB Isaiah Ekejiuba (shoulder) and Mitchell. Wide receiver Javon Walker continues to work out with trainers and tackle Khalif Barnes is out with a broken ankle.
– Higgins stepped in as the holder in place of Shane Lechler on a couple of field goal attempts by Ricky Schmitt.
– Walker said he expects to practice for the first time on Aug. 24 and hopes to play against the New Orleans Saints on Aug. 29.
– No confirmation from the Raiders regarding workouts for linebackers Morlon Greenwood or Derrick Brooks, as has been reported.
The Raiders are believed to be interested in Brooks in a backup role, but realize a more likely destination is New Orleans because of the proxminity to his home in Florida and familiarity with the NFC South.
– It was a tough day in some cases for practice highlights, given that many of the best team session drills were in areas with an obstructed view by the media. For some of those quick hits, check my Twitter page.