News, notes and quotes from Wednesday’s open locker room and post-practice press briefing from coach Tom Cable:
— The only two players players coming off long-term injuries that have a chance to play against San Diego, according to Cable, are left guard Robert Gallery (broken fibula) and wide receiver Chaz Schilens (foot).
Gallery practiced in warmups and drills and got in a few reps. Schilens is still “real sore” and didn’t practice at all. It’s conceivable both could be back after the bye.
— Running back Darren McFadden has been a ghost since his minor knee surgery. He hasn’t been seen in the locker room during media availaibility since being injured nor has he been on the field during initial rehab stages during practice with the athletic training staff.
McFadden will be inactive for his fourth game, and it’s no slam dunk he’ll be back after the bye following the Chargers game.
— The Chargers have morphed into a passing team in part because of injuries on the offensive line as well as the health of LaDainian Tomlinson. With scatback Darren Sproles more suited to getting into pass patterns, joining wide receiver Vincent Jackson and tight end Antonio Gates as targets, San Diego plays a different style than the run-heavy teams primarily responisble for 12 consecutive wins over Oakland.
With the Raiders playing better against pass-first teams, San Diego could play into their hands much the same way Philadelphia did.
Coach Norv Turner stressed he wasn’t willing to abandon the run and believes the Chargers must get better at it if they hope to reach the postseason.
“We do have a talented group of receivers and we have a quarterback who is playing at a real high level, so certainly we want to be able to throw the football,” Turner told Bay Area reporters by conference call. “But to be the kind of team we want to be and continue to grow, we need to be able to run the football.”
— With the Raiders ranked 30th in run defense, Cable isn’t about to assume the Chargers will come out throwing, regardless of their more wide-open style.
“Based on what we’ve been through a couple of times now in terms of run defense, we’d be fools not to think they would try to run it,” Cable said.
— Some nighmarish rushing defense numbers _ the the Raiders have given up 200 or more yards rushing in three games (214 to Denver, 220 to the New York Giants, 316 to the New York Jets) and has lost those games by a combined score of 105-3.
The Raiders have given up 11 rushing touchdowns, tied for St. Louis for the most in the NFL, and have given up 133 touchdowns in 103 games (winning 26 of them) since the start of the 2003 season, the most in the NFL.
— Defensive end Richard Seymour was at a loss as to why the Raiders were struggling with a skill as fundamental as tackling.
“It is such a basic thing and obviously we need to do a better,” Seymour said. “We need to do a better job in practice. Maybe we make practice live, I don’t know.”
Cable was asked if he would consider live-tackling and said, “If it gets to that point, absolutely.”
After giving up 316 yards on the ground, you wonder what “that point” would be.
— Cable went to his farm roots for an analogy about playing with the kind of electricty the Raiders showed in Week 1 and again later against Philadelphia.
“You look at the first San Diego game all the way up to the last 2 1/2 minutes,” Cable said. “You look at the last drive on both offense and defense at Kansas City, you look at really the entire game in Philadelphia, and if you set that film aside and look at it, there’s a much different . . . electricity . . . If you look at the other four games you see a different team. As I told them, ‘it doesn’t look like you have a cattle prod up your rear.’ ”
“To me, that’s making sure that we’re doing it right,” Cable said. “Eating, sleeping right, taking care of our bodies, doing all those things. We’ve had good effort on Sundays. But there’s a difference in having good effort and playing with the electricity you talked about.”
An inference that perhaps a few players have been staying out a little late and eating a little too much, perhaps?
— Turner on Russell: “Well, for young guys, the expectation is always there that everyone wants you to go out and play completely mistake-free, and that’s not going to happen. That’s how you grow. You go out and play and you have those experiences, and you learn from them. That’s part of, unfortunately, being a young quarterback.”
Turner is paying little attention to the 38-0 pasting the Raiders took against the Jets, instead focusing on the win over Philadelphia the previous week and a 24-20 season-opening win over Oakland, with Rivers finding Sproles for a 5-yard scoring pass with 18 seconds remaining.
“The Jets started two of those drives in that first quarter on the 3- and 4-yard line. It’s tough when you get down by 14 right off the bat,” Turner said. “I watched the Philadelphia game very closely in all three phases. The Raiders in that game were as physical a football game as you’re going to play in this league.”
— Khalif Barnes said he usually gives a loss 24 hours of “mourning” before he moves on, but that the Jets’ loss lasted a little longer. He has since put it aside and is focusing on outside linebacker Shaun Phillips, who got his first two sacks of the season last week against Kansas City and has 9.5 against the Raiders for his career.
“I know Shaun a little bit from playing against him at Purdue a couple of times,”’ Barnes said. “ To me, he’s just as dangerous as Merriman. He’s fast, he’s elusive, he’ll sneak on the edge, sometimes try and lull you to sleep and then he’ll hit you, he’s good with his hands.”
— Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson delivered a triple crown of cliches in his conference call with an “it is what it is,” a “one game at a time” and a “we can only control what we can control” in a matter of a few sentences.
— Isaiah Ekejiuba missed practice with a stomach ailment, and was joined by quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. Others who have missed time for the same thing include tight end Brandon Myers and defensive end Richard Seymour.
Cable said all players have been examined to make sure they don’t have the swine flu virus and that no coaches have been affected.