By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Sunday, August 16th, 2009 at 7:45 pm in Oakland Raiders.
When we last saw Jeff Garcia in Napa, he was making his way out of the field house to the Marriott and conceding his calf was taking more time than he thought to heal.
It began on July 31, with Garcia being a spectator even in the “learning intensive” practices which were low on physical stress. At the time, Cable said, “we’re just trying to keep him fresh for Monday.” That was more than two weeks ago.
If Garcia ever had a sliver of hope of unseating JaMarcus Russell for the starting job _ and he seemed to fluctuate on that topic from interview to interview _ it evaporated as he watched from afar, detatched from a team he is unlikely to ever call his own.
Garcia, according to coach Tom Cable, should arrive in Napa tonight, is healthy enough to practice and will be the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart when the Raiders practice at 3:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday with the San Francisco 49ers.
He was not with the team Saturday or Sunday, staying at home to tend to “ personal business.”
“I think it’s going to be great,” Cable said. “He’s champing at the bit as much as I am, to get here and to be here and all that . . . it’s just, you’ve got to take care of your body and he does a good job of that.
“The thing just flared up so rather than press it out there and put him in a situation (like what) happened last year in Tampa, want to take care of that so when we get him back, we get him back ready to go.”
During practice, Russell and Garcia don’t seem to interact much. Russell said it is different in the meeting room.
“Whatever goes on, he has an input in it,” Russell said. “If you can use it, take it but if it’s something that you’re not used to doing then you get to let him keep the better end of the stick and go from there. It is good to get some advice from someone.”
More news and notes:
– The Raiders signed an outside linebacker, but it wasn’t one who will add a Hall of Fame resume to their media guide.
Instead, it’s Morlon Greenwood, 31, who last played for the Houston Texans. Cable said Greenwood’s arrival allows the Raiders to be careful with Isaiah Ekejiuba, who sustained a shoulder surgery against Dallas _ one that he has had before.
Greenwood’s role will be as a reserve outside linebacker and special teams player. Defensive lineman Derrick Gray was waived to make room for Greenwood.
Ekejiuba said Saturday the injury was no big deal and he’d be out a couple of days. Cable’s stance makes it sounds as if Ekejiuba could be out considerably longer.
– Garcia’s arrival means reduced snaps for either Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Frye, or both. Both threw the ball well toward the end of Sunday’s lone session, with Frye in partciular throwing some nice medium and deep range strikes to Chaz Schilens and Zach Miller.
Frye has still been running No. 3, but looks better than most starters the Raiders have had since Kerry Collins left following the 2005 season.
– The Raiders had a solid team session throwing the ball late in practice, good enough that Cable called it probably the best day we’ve had all camp throwing the football and guys getting in seams on time.”
We’ll assume he wasn’t including the 7-on-7 session where the ball hit the ground or was intercepted on six of seven throws during one stretch, with Russell throwing interceptions to Stanford Routt and Jerome Boyd.
– Chaz Schilens continues to catch everything insight and is easily the most consistent and productive skill position player in camp from day to day.
– Two of Russell’s better throws came on deep sideline touch passes to Shawn Bayes and Johnnie Lee Higgins.
Both came against Ricky Manning, who had struggled in his second Raiders practice after being signed as a free agent.
– Much was made of the “mentoring” of Russell by Garcia, but it’s clear the key figure charged with developing the future of the franchise is quarterbacks coach Paul Hackett.
“Paul has kind of changed the dynamics of the whole thing in terms of how they’re studying, how they’re preparing and the information that he gets back from them, and I think he’s making them all accountable,” Cable said.
– Russell and the offense executed a screen to the right which had Michael Bush off and running down the sideline like a runaway train. Fortunately for Raiders defenders, they didn’t have to try and tackle him.
“That was a touchdown,” Bush said. “I was rumbling.”
– Kirk Morrison was running as the second team middle linebacker behind Ricky Brown, with Jon Alston on the strong side and Thomas Howard on the weak side.
Alston, who has plantar fasciatis, let out a yell in pain after stepping awardly during one drill but never missed a snap.
– Both days against the 49ers Tuesday and Wednesday will be double sessions in pads at 8:20 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
– There were no meetings Sunday night, as friends and families visited Napa for the club’s annual “Family Night.”
– Louis Murphy is still feeling the effects of a big hit he took against Dallas. Not only was he out for the second straight day with a hip injury, but at one point was laying on his side and being worked on by the training staff, almost as if he’d been hurt all over again.
– Gerard Warren and Tommy Kelly were both caught jumping offsides, an occasional problem for the defensive line even though they’re more than familiar with the cadences of the quarterbacks by now.
– Cable said Javon Walker could return after the 49ers game, putting it at “a matter of days.” Walker said Saturday he expected to be back Aug. 24, which would indeed be the first practice after the 49ers game. Walker continues to work out on a nearby field and then watches practice from the sideline.
“I’ve watched a couple of those workouts, and not just the conditioning part of it, but the change of direction, the ball-catching, and been very impressed,” Cable said.
– Among those who also did not practice and are day-to-day include G Marcus Johnson (calf), defensive tackle Terdell Sands (quad), center John Wade (stinger) and linebacker Mike Mitchell (hamstring).