News and notes from Tom Cable’s conference call with Bay Area media:
— Linebacker Kirk Morrison’s elbow dislocation was described by Cable as “a two-week deal.”
Morrison was injured during the first series of Saturday night’s 21-20 loss to the 49ers. Cable said Morrison would definitely miss the New Orleans game and possible the preseason finale in Seattle, but would be ready for Week 1.
He also said Morrison was leader to start at middle linebacker at the time of the injury, so it’s anybody’s guess how that will affect his competition with Ricky Brown. Brown remains a candidate to start on the strong side, although it seems likely most of his reps will now be in the middle with Morrison out.
— Cable’s most important job this week will be shoring up the two areas that will have a huge say in whether the Raiders ascend to contention in the AFC West or are headed for another season of double-digit losses.
Expecting to be one of the top rushing teams in the AFC, the Raiders gained just 69 yards on 18 carries and 14 of those came on a Charlie Frye scramble for a touchdown.
And, of course, the 49ers shredded the Oakland run defense for 275 yards on 47 carries.
“I just thought we did a poor job of blocking in the run game,” Cable said. “Again, we didn’t run it a whole lot, but when we did, again I just thought we were too high, not the right fits with the helmets.”
As a result, offensive line coach Jim Michalczik will have some company this week in meetings and on the field.
“I’ll get (the pad level) down this week,” Cable said. “That’s just me putting some attention to it.”
— Sounds like the coach thinks the run defense issues had to do with attitude and a lot of guys having bad games on the same night.
“We had a lot of guys not play very well,” Cable said. “One, we have to do a better job adjusting to it as coaches, and then, two, I think you have to at some point set your jaw and decide you’re not going to get your rear-end kicked like that.”
Strong side lineabacker Slade Norris was identified as one of the players with tackling issues.
— Surprise! JaMarcus Russell will be the starting quarterback, barring an unforeseen disaster, when the Raiders open against San Diego.
“I said it was his job and we’ll see how it goes. Unfortunately, Jeff (Garcia) hasn’t seen as much work,” Cable said. “We’ve been fortunate JaMarcus has improved. I think he missed two throws that could have made for a really big night for him because one would have been for a touchdown for sure.
“He’s progressing the way you want him to. Not perfect yet, but I’d say at this point he’s the quarterback of the Oakland Raiders.”
Cable is happy to have Garcia back to give added incentive.
“It would have been nice to have someone really pushing him,” Cable said. “Maybe we could get him to improve a little more, and we’ll get to the next couple of weeks. It’s only halfway through the preseason.”
— When it comes to Javon Walker, it’s safe to stray from absolutes. Which is why Cable probably answered this way when asked if Walker’s scheduled practice Monday would go on as scheduled: “As far as we know, today, right now, yes.”
— The No. 3 quarterback battle between Bruce Gradkowski and Frye remains a dead heat two laps into a four-lap race.
“On one day it’s one guy, on one day it’s the next,” Cable said. “The next two games might decide it.”
— The Raiders have been pleasantly surprised by tight end Brandon Myers’ ability as a downfield receiver.
“There was kind of an unknown expectation,” Cable said. “He’s certainly proven he can do those things and that’s just who he is.”
— Cable wasn’t willing to brush aside Nick Miller’s fumbled punt as the act of a desperate rookie straining for extra yards in hopes of making the final 53.
“I don’t think you really get the benefit of the doubt when you turn the ball over,” Cable said. “He’ll learn from it, and we’ll move forward.”
— Cited by Cable as coming on include defensvie tackles Desmond Bryant and William Joseph. He also said Tommy Kelly was “much better” from Week 1 to Week 2.
— Players were off Sunday, and get an added bonus this week _ they’ll be off Tuesday as well.
The Raiders pracitce Monday at 3:30 p.m., Wednesday at 3:30 p.m. and then have their final Napa training camp practice Thursday at 8:30 a.m.