News, notes and quotes after Monday’s locker room session and coach Tom Cable’s weekly press briefing:
— The latest reports circulating concerning Tom Cable’s alleged involvement in an incident which left assistant coach Randy Hanson with a broken jaw indicate that the the Raiders are bracing for the possibility of a suspension (Yahoo sports) and that the Napa district attorney’s office is undecided on whether to file charges (NFL Network).
Cable, as has been his policy throughout, declined comment but did say, “When it all is resolved, you’ll understand why I’m acting the way I am. It’s just something I’m not going to talk about and shouldn’t talk about. I’ll let that process do its thing.”
He said he is not aware of any scheduled meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell when the Raiders travel to New Jersey Friday to play the Giants at the Meadowlands.
— Here was Cable’s reaction about the loss of running back Darren McFadden (meniscus tear) and right tqackle Cornell Green (calf) for two to four weeks:
“We’d have (Justin) Fargas and (Michael) Bush and go with the two of them. Really haven’t thought about changes or anything like that. Just getting through today in terms of the injuries and all that.
“Obviously, (Erik) Pears could go out (to right tackle), probably the easiest move right now, the right move right now. And we’ve got to get Khalif Barnes trained at a couple of spots.”
— Considering how the Raiders ran the ball in the first half of the first game, Cable wasn’t buying into the notion that the offense neglected the running game during training camp and the preaseason.
“You know, it might be easy to say that,” Cable said. “I thought opening night the run game was fine in terms of its production and all that, what we asked it to do. But since then we really have not gotten on track.”
Cable’s assessment of Russell? With better games from his receivers, Russell would have been the talk of the league _ this time in a good way.
“If you understand football, if he’s getting better protection yesterday you’d see what I’m talking about. He was on target all but really two throws,” Cable said. “When you have that many drops – I think there were nine that I counted – if you put nine completions or at least the opportunity of nine completions on his deal, you’d say he might have been as good as anybody in pro football yesterday. If you know what you’re looking at.”
The two throws Cable said Russell missed was a route in which he threw over the wrong shoulder to Louis Murphy and a curl route which short-hopped Darrius Heyward-Bey.
For the record, Sunday’s best performances were by Peyton Manning (31-for-41, 353 yards, 2 TDs, 1 int), Ben Roethlisberger (26-for-33, 333 yards, 2 TDs, 0 int), David Garrard (27-for-37, 323 yards, 3 TDs, 0 int) and Eli Manning (20-for-34, 292 yards, 3 TDs, 1 int).
— CBS analyst Boomer Esiasion had this to say about Russell Sunday on the NFL Today:
“I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but it’s come to my attention that he has been fined heavily already for being overweight and for being late to meetings. And, he’s already missed one meeting. I’m telling you right now, the other 52 guys on that roster are looking at Tom Cable. They’re looking at Al Davis, and they’re saying we deserve better than this. That’s why every time he goes on the field, what’s the quarterback’s job – to be the leader of the other men on the field with them; to inspire them to greater heights. Right now, he is holding them back. Even though there’s not a great alternative, there has to be a change at quarterback, especially if he plays poorly today against a banged up Houston defense.”
Asked whether Russell had been fined and missed meetings, Cable said, “I’m not going to talk about our internal stuff that way.”
— It does appear that the Raiders are still in search of an offensive leader, as evidenced by defensive end Greg Ellis having words with offensive team members during the Texans game. Cable said he approves.
“The reason I’m OK with it is that until the offense finds their leaders, who those guys are going to be, I think you’re leadership’s gotta come from anywhere on this football team,” Cable said.
— Cable has now coached the equivalent of a 16-game season as a head coach. His offense has gained 19 more yards than the Art Shell-coached team of 2006 (3,958 yards to 3,939) but has scored 59 more points.
— Asked to respond to comments by quarterback Jeff Garcia that some Raiders seemed to be there simply to collect a paycheck, Cable, who said he first heard of it Saturday, expressed surprise. He said Garcia told him he simply didn’t want to play football any more and said nothing of any other motivation.
“When I heard those things Saturday, I thought maybe, that’s a guy who’s not in it any more, talking about himself,” Cable said.
— Wide receiver Louis Murphy conceded Monday he let a replay ruling which went against a reception he made in the first half affect him for the next series. He said he had four dropped passes _ the first time it had been an issue since high school.
“Covered, non-covered, it doesn’t matter,” Murphy said. “I don’t make any excuses. I have to catch the ball. That’s my job. That’s what I get paid to do.”
Murphy said he was convinced he caught the ball and lobbied Cable to throw the challenge flag. He lost a touchdown earlier this eason when officials ruled he had not controlled a pass in the end zone all the way to the ground.
“That’s just another one. Two now. Not that I’m keeping score,” Murphy said. “The refs made a call. I was disappointed. I really wanted that to be the spark, the momentum that we needed to get a first down and get things rolling. But it kind of backfired.”
— Special teams captain Isaiah Ekejiuba seemed almost pleased to stop and answer a few questions if it meant keeping him from heading into a film room to watch the Raiders special teams play.
“I’m going to hate this,” Ekejiuba said.
Ekejiuba said he was surprised the Raiders played so poorly on special teams aside from Sebastian Janikowski’s place kicking and Shane Lechler’s punting because practice had gone so well the week before.
“Everything ws sharp, tightened up,” Ekejiuba said. “It just didn’t go.”
Included in the special teams horror story _ a missed onsides kick attempt to open the game, a penalty for 12-men on the field and a Houston first down, three kickoff returns inside the 20 by Justin Miller, a lost fumble and minus-4 yards of return yardage by Johnnie Lee Higgins, and, of course, a 95-yard touchdown return on a free kick by Jacoby Jones.
Ekejiuba bristled at the suggestion that Shane Lechler, who hammered it 75 yards to the 5-yard line, had made a mistake by outkicking his coverage.
“Shane is a great punter, the best in this league, and he kicked the ball like you’d want your kicker to kick the ball,” Ekejiuba said. “We just have to do our job, and it’s that simple. If you think he outkicked the coverage, then you’re just not working hard enough or you’re not willing to work hard enough to go down there and make a play. It’s that simple.”
— Cable said he thought Zach Miller should be sufficiently recovered by symptoms from a concussion to play against the Giants. Miller was in the locker room Monday and said he expected to play.
Cable said left guard Robert Gallery (broken left fibula) is making “tremendous progress” and that this week “may not be out of the question.”
The case of wide receiver Chaz Schillens will be monitored “day to day.”