News, notes and quotes from the Raiders Wednesday following the open locker room session, practice and the post-practice press briefing from coach Tom Cable:
— Let’s get the legal stuff out fo the way first. When asked if there had been any change in the Napa assault investigation involving Randy Hanson and whether he’d been contacted, Cable said, “None from me.”
When asked if he had any comment on the assertion by attorney John McGuinn to the NFL Network that Raiders defensive backs had been contacting Hanson for advice through a borrowed computer, Cable managed a chuckle and said, “No, no. I have no comment on about any of that.”
— After talking about what a great job Bruce Gradkowski was doing as the backup for JaMarcus Russell, was surprised to hear such a soft response from Cable regarding the possibility of bringing back Jeff Garcia.
“We haven’t talked about it at this point,” Cable said. “That’s all I can say right now.”
That’s a long way from, the “No, we’ll move ahead with what we’ve got” answer I expected considering Garcia requested his release.
— There’s showing loyalty to your guys and then there’s, well it’s hard to say exactly what this is.
When asked about what it would take Javon Walker to get on the field, Cable said, “Well, I think right now it would take injuries. We’re about to get Schilens back. You feel like that group has really done some good things and you want to keep that going obviously.”
The group has done some good things and you want to keep that going.
Aside from the eight catches for 138 yards from Louis Murphy, Raiders wide receivers have caught two passes for 46 yards in three games. Todd Watkins has one for 28 yards, Darrius Heyward-Bey the other for 18 yards.
It’s not exactly like he’d be breaking up the lineup of the ’27 Yankees.
Maybe it’s that Walker simply can’t play anymore and that Al Davis doesn’t want to cut a receiver guaranteed $4.6 million this season and next season. Or that he’s simply sticking with the young receivers the same way he’s going with Russell.
But the “good things” haven’t exactly been visible to the naked eye.
— Kickoff returns specialist Justin Miller had a new home on the opposite side of the locker room and a professional outlook regarding his return to a team that sent him packing on the final cutdown day.
Miller averaged 24.8 yards per return and had returned two kickoffs for touchdowns with a long of 92 yards last year. He was even on the field in the secondary when the Raiders beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to close out the season.
He signed a new contract _ but didn’t make the roster.
“That’s the nature of this business,’’ Miller said. “You’ve got to understand how it goes. Sometimes it’s really not about you as a person, it’s just what fits for the team or what the team needs at that point in time. You take it in stride and try to be ready for the next opportunity.’’
— Fullback Oren O’Neal’s take on the “on any given Sunday” philosophy: “Every team in the NFL is an NFL team.”
— Defensvie end Greg Ellis had this to say about how a torrent of pregame enthusiasm means nothing when preceded by a subpar practice effort.
“It’s not anything we can correct five minutes before a football game by jumping around and slapping each other high-fives, yelling and screaming,” Ellis said. “You need that energy but you have to have a foundation with that energy. You start establishing that foundation for the week starting on Wednesday usually.”
Ellis on leadership: “I think it has to be more than one guy. You can have that guy who wants to yell, scream and cuss at other teammates but everybody in the NFL we’re grown men so we can choose how you respond to that firecracker guy if you will. The head coach can yell at you, anybody can yell at you but you as an individual have to take it upon yourself to say, ‘OK, I’m going to receive this stuff and I’m going to use it as a positive.’ ”
— Ellis and Richard Seymour agreed with Nnamdi Asomugha’s contention that last Friday’s practice was a big part of the Raiders downfall against the Broncos.
“I think we had a lot of mental errors. Friday practices aren’t tremendously physical practices. But it’s more of a mental day,” Seymour said. “And I think that’s something we all have to tighten up on if we want to be a good football team.
“You’ve got to be in the right place at the right time. The main thing is, what we want to do is take care of responsibilities and do your job. No one can do my job but me. I can’t go out and do the linebackers’ job, the corners can’t come up and do our job. So if everybody takes care of their own responsibilities, I think we’ll be a much better football team.”
“Hopefully everybody learned and we can go out there today and leading up to this game and be more concentrating in practice and eliminate mistakes,” added Ellis. “Early in the week you expect some mistakes because it’s a new, you don’t change the whole scheme but there’s some new things that coaches tell you, ‘For this team we got to do this.’ Today you can kind of expect some mistakes. But when you get down to Friday you expect for it to be real crisp, not so physical practice just crisp and not making
— Count Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson who believes the Raiders to be a warehouse of talent just waiting for a little direction and purpose.
“If they can just get things going in the right direction they’ll be a team to be reckoned with,” Johnson said in a conference call to Bay Area reporters. “ You look at the players on that team, it’s kind of like an all-star team.”
Which is exactly the kind of thinking which could lead the Raiders down the wrong path, Ellis believes.
“We’re not the golden child where we stand out enough talent wise where we can go out there and kind of BS through practice and think we can win,” Ellis said.
— Here is how Seymour, brought in to be a leader, plans to lead:
“ I think you lead by example. I’m not a rah-rah guy coming out and giving speeches. You go out and get the job done by your play in practice, preparation. Cause it’s really two games. It’s the game throughout the week as far as preparation. And then it’s also the game on Sunday. So we want to win both of those battles,” Seymour said. “And if we don’t do a good job throughout the week as far as preparation, then they’ll have the edge on us when it comes to the game. So it’s a process on getting it done, and I think guys are willing to put in that work.”
Seymour doesn’t plan on leading by talking about his previous place of employment.
“Man, I’m not in New England. I’m tired of the New England questions,” Seymour said. “That’s a chapter that’s over and done with, and I’m here as an Oakland Raider now. I’m a Raider, and that’s what it is.”
— Cable gave the Wednesday practice positive reviews.
“Today was excellent. It was tremendous focus,” Cable said. “We got the base plan in, tempo was good, effort was good. Shoot, I think maybe two or three repeats the whole practice so that’s what we’re looking for.”
— Cable was asked if Chaz Schilens returning to action Sunday was a “longshot” and answered yes, then in the next sentence said it was 50-50. Assuming the former unless Schilens is on the field Thursday. Also out are Robert Gallery and Nick Miller, while Hiram Eugene is questionable. Michael Huff did not practice but is expected to play. Mike Mitchell was practricing with his right thumb bandaged. Tyvon Branch had both thumbs wrapped but was not mentioned as being injured.