Holland ready for new responsibilities


News and notes from the Raiders’ practice Friday:

— Jonathan Holland last returned kickoffs in the 2008 preseason finale, averaging 35.5 yards on two attempts against the Seattle Seahawks with a long of 43 yards. Before that, he hadn’t returned kickoffs since his freshman year at Louisiana Tech.

“I guess they remembered that, and now they’re giving me the shot to do it all over again,” Holland said.

Holland failed to make the 53-man roster as a wide receiver and was brought back to the practice squad when coach Tom Cable had a surprising suggestion.

“He came to me with the idea of playing defense and he told me it would be the quickest way to get on the roster and contribute to the special teams,” Holland said. “I was like, cool, anything to get back on the team.”

The Raiders had two kickoff returns for touchdowns last season from Justin Miller, who was cut to in favor of undrafted rookie free agent Nick Miller. When Nick Miller came up with a broken bone in his shin, the Raiders turned to Louis Rankin. Rankin had 108 yards on six returns, an 18.0 average which tied him for 50th in the NFL.

Holland excelled on kickoff coverage after being promoted from the practice squad last season on Dec. 4, with a tackle and an assist in a win over Houston and three solo tackles in the season finale against the Buccaneers.

That skill, plus his speed, convinced the Raiders Holland was worth a try in the secondary.

“That first week of meetings I was kind of in there, scratching my head saying, `What’s going on?,’ ” Holland said. “We actually meet at 6:30 every morning, so it got me caught up to what’s going on, got a grasp of it real quick.”

Cable said Holland could play defense in certain packages which would keep him in man-to-man coverage.

“Based on what we do, there really isn’t a lot to it when you’re playing man coverage,” Cable said.

— By now, Erik Pears has grown accustomed to the curse of his height. At 6-foot-8, getting leverage against a squatty interior lineman can be a challenge.

“I’ve been hearing since the first day I started playing football, `You’ve got to get lower,’ ” Pears said.

Pears has never started a game at a guard in the United States, his last game there coming in 2005 in an NFL Europe game in Germany. He said he is growing accustomed to operating in a phone booth.

“It’s just a different animal that you’re facing,” Pears said. “You’ve got the quicker guys (outside). They’re all quick, but the amount of space in between outside there, they’re lining up outside. At guard they’re right on top of you, so it kind of happens a little bit quicker. But when it boils down it’s all football.”

It helps that Pears has a role model already in place. Robert Gallery, the man Pears is replacing, is 6-foot-7 and made a nice adjustment inside.

“As Cooper (Carlisle) said, we went from the tallest guard in the NFL to an even taller guard,” Pears said.

— Free safety Hiram Eugene (leg) has improved, but did not practice and is officially listed as doubtful, with Michael Huff taking over as the every down free safety. WR Chaz Schilens, Gallery and Nick Miller were all declared out.

— Defensive end Richard Seymour did not practice, but was being rested, according to Cable.

“Just resting his legs,” Cable said. “No issue there.”

— Tyvon Branch is so strong on special teams the Raiders have been hesitant to reduce his role in that area even though he plays every down at strong safety.

Punter Shane Lechler said Branch made a solo tackle on one of his punts that was so impressive it may as well have been put on a video loop.

“He made a tackle coming off a double team that was just textbook,” Lechler said. “We watched it about 10 times in film. It was exactly how you’re supposed to do it, but only a few people actually can.”

Cable said only part of what Branch does on special teams can be taught.

“I think you teach the how-to part of it and the responsibility-part of it, but the want-to is the individual.
And that’s something that makes him rare,” Cable said.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Nnamdi21…

    That’s with clamato?

    I use V8

  • Raider Headbutt

    Im out Nation talk to you guys later!

  • Nnamdi21

    Again, this weeks divisional match up will come down to who turns the ball over and who doesn’t.

    It would be nice if Oaklands offense suddenly came alive, but Mike Nolan has their D at least trying.

    We should be able to control the line even with out Gallery who I’m not sure was on pace to have a good year before the injury.

    Handled KC’s D line which I think is infifnitely more talented than starters DE Ryan McBean, NT Ronald Fields and DE Kenny Peterson.

    Elvis Dummerville had a big day against Cleveland and we’ll see how Mario Henderson does against his first real pass rush challenge this season.

    Oddly, to me at least, this will be the 3rd 3-4 defense in a row Oakland faces, all coming from divisional rivals.

    Knock on wood Oakland has done better than expected in protection.

    Some of that defintely has to do with Michael Bush and Darren McFadden’s markedly improved protection.

    Merriman apparently hurt his widdle ankle against the Raiders and thats his excuse for not excelling this year.


  • 909 im in. Marrys @ 930ish. Shoot i just scored a 6r so ill start now.

  • 21 uh whats a clam digger?

  • ottocrat


  • 408….
    9:30ish it is. Get primed before I have to shell out $18.00 for a bucket of ice COLD beer at the local dive I watch the game at…(;

    None today though, busy day tomorrow..);

  • Nnamdi21

    408RAIDER Says:
    September 25th, 2009 at 5:32 pm
    21 uh whats a clam digger


    Clamato instead of tomato juice. With a Marlboro red, its a balanced meal.

  • Dhb burns chump 4 his 1st td on sunday

  • Lol 21. sounds good i go v8 n a fat j.

  • jhill

    LOL …

    Are they really trying to ban the Gannon from the building?

    Did they really go with the 911 defense?

    This is comical!

  • TBuckey


    that’s what i was saying out with the old in the new.if DHB pulls that off a lot of haters are going to hate admitting they’re wrong about this guy.DHB in the 2012 Pro Bowl i like it.

  • ottocrat

    Sorry, JOHN Herrera…HAHAHAHA. This is my favorite story of the year. C’mon, Jerry. I gotta hear your opinion on this. Our team, they may not be very good, but they’re never boring.

  • ottocrat
  • Gannon i mis all those w’s

  • Funny stuff

  • jhill

    Too Funny!

    You have to wonder about what type of person bashes the one team that gave him a chance and he actaully shined for. Especially since he hasn’t been aroung the team since he left. He is clearly bitter at something that happened here.

    Is he really claiming disfunction while he was here? Dysfunctioned to all those wins and a SB trip?

    Funny Shyt!

  • “I guess it’s our fault he threw five interceptions.

  • Richochet

    Ban Gannon? LMFAO…wow..a New low for the Raiders.

    see?? HOW CAN YOU NOT LOVE THIS TEAM? What other team provides this much nonstop entertainment?
    This is a guy who just lightened up, and actually tossed out some props to Cable, and painted a less than total disaster picture about JaFatass, and now the Raiders pull this little tantrum, you can’t come in, you hurt our widdle feelings, professionalism has nothing to do with our decision, we don’t care if we’re laughed at..still..we’re locking the door?

    And you DON’T THINK YOU’LL BE YET ANOTHER LAUGHINGSTOCK? lol…oh man…I love it. 🙂

    Now? Gannon will be GOING OUT OF HIS WAY to crap on the Raiders..ex players? They’ll be running the “See?? That’s how it is with the Raiders. Very bush league.”

    Al has officially lost it.

    I can just see him..snarling..with those dark yellow teeth (does Al the Hermit know there are such things as tooth brushes? Maybe a trip to the dentist? Some whitener? SOMETHING?) calling in Herrera..”Gannon is announcing the game? No HE’S NOT. Oh no..he’s not coming in the parking lot. He’s not going anywhere. You call security right now”


    Some day? When Al is gone? Someone is going to have a best seller “THE BONEHEAD ACTS OF AN OWNER PAST HIS PRIME”.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    Plunketthead Says:
    September 25th, 2009 at 3:30 pm
    I remember when we drafted Tyvon and many were BOOOOOOing and typing AL SUCKS!!!
    Until the Raiders traded for Seymour….a lot of people were clamoring for D-Line help…even in the 4th round.

    And those “booing” actually had a point….look at the difference in the defensive play since they added a difference maker to the D-Line

  • SnB offense defense specialteams


    How many times can someone post that they don’t like the Raiders?

    Do you have any other tricks?

  • Plunketthead

    I dont mean to take anything away from Seymour but Tyvon is a hell of a football player. Fast and hits hard.
    I just think Tyvon was a great pick in Al’s often maligned draft skills.

  • Plunketthead

    A Raider “type” player.

  • He seems to be a guy who can’t get over the fact that he played the worst Super Bowl game in the history of the game and he wants to blame everybody but himself.

    “I guess it’s our fault he threw five interceptions.


    F’N classic. Too funny.

  • Raider E

    SnB, Richochet loves the Raiders.

  • Ottocrat….
    Thanx for that link… Herrera cracks me up..

    I wonder how much $$ Goodell will ding Al for not letting Rich in. 100k?

  • Broncos QB Kyle Orton ranks first in the NFL with a 152.1 fourth-quarter passer rating.


    Seems the Broncos are playing pretty well.

  • Raider E

    Gannon could have said worse, i think he tried to be fair. He also dissected alot of film before he said what he said. He did the work and can have an opinion. I thought he really took it easy on Russell in comparison to some others.

  • Then the Raiders wonder why they get poor coverage from the media. Very Tacky the way they treated Gannon today.

    They just don’t get it.

  • Plunketthead

    One day Al will be gone and we will all miss the good old days when the Raiders were Als team.

    The grass is seldom greener on the other side of the block wall. Al spends money and tries hard to win.
    Many owners run it as a business and a playoff game is a very very rare event for them.

    Take Scary Jones and the Dallas Cowbutts.
    Did you know they have not won a playoff game in something like 14 years. Al would never put up with that kind of crap.
    Yes sir I am glad Al is still large and in charge.

    Best year ever!!

  • Raider E

    They played a couple weak teams, just like the Raiders did. The AFC West is really that terrible, but hey, maybe we can be the best of the worst.

  • Plunketthead

    you guys need to do a Gannon tries to get into the building skit and the players start talking about what kind of defense to use and Cable charges out and whups Gannons ass in the parking lot