News, notes and quotes Monday following open locker room and coach Tom Cable’s press briefing regarding a 24-16 loss to the San Diego Chargers.
— Starting defensive left end Greg Ellis, who has been hobbled for the past few weeks with what was described as an arthritic knee, will have arthroscopic knee surgery this week. There was no estimate how long Ellis would be out.
The Raiders don’t play until Nov. 15, when they host the Kansas City Chiefs. Ellis, 34, had four sacks after signing as an unrestricted free agent and is considered one of the leaders in the locker room.
Running back Darren McFadden had arthroscopic knee surgery, was inactive for the last four games, and hopes to return for the Chiefs game.
— The good news is that with Ellis playing sparingly against San Diego, rookie defensive end Matt Shaughnessy had a breakout game with a sack, two tackles for losses and five tackles. Cable said Shaughnessy was “terrific” against San Diego and will assume a starting role.
— Cable said the bye week would be used for healing and self-scouting, and that any lineup changes would have more to do with healthy players returning than bringing in some new faces.
When asked if the Raiders might consider veteran Chris Chambers, released by San Diego, Cable said, “I don’t think so at this point with who we have.”
The Raiders will practice Wednesday and Thursday this week then take the weekend off before beginning preparations for Kansas City. Among those injured players who will be limited and in theory would stand a chance of facing the Chiefs are left guard Robert Gallery (fibula), wide receiver Chaz Schilens (foot) and McFadden.
Defensive tackle Gerard Warren will also be limited with a foot bruise as will Nick Miller (tibia), who Cable hopes will provide competition for Jonathan Holland as kickoff return specialist.
Those a little behind and listed as “day-to-day” are right tackle Cornell Green (calf), tight end Tony Stewart (pectoral) and starting strong side linebacker Jon Alston, who has a neck injury and “slight”“concussion. Given that it is Alston’s second concussion since Oct. 11, he’ll be watched closely.
Linebacker Ricky Brown (ankle) was still in a cast Monday, hopes to get it off this week, but won’t practice.
— Cable believes if McFadden, Gallery, Green and Schilens were to all return, the Raiders would have a much different look.
“You’re going to get two starting offensive linemen back, you’re going to get a starting tailback back, arguably your best receiver back, another kick returner in Nick Miller back,” Cable said. “I think all those things are conducive to us having a little better success offensively so we’re going to start with that.”
Schilens, in particular, is being counted on to rescue a non-productive receiving corps more than any 15-catch rookie receiver in NFL history.
“If you remember when they all kind of went bang, bang, bang and it started with Chaz, losing him in the preseason. In the preseason game against Dallas, I think we scored 31 points with him in the lineup,” Cable said. “Now, I’m not saying that we’re going to score 31 points every time but it gives us a guy who has proven it. Last year, particularly in the last few weeks, he came on as a football player and I thought he picked it up in camp where he left off.”
OK, let’s hold it a minute while my brain bleeds out my ears. Schilens played the first quarter against Dallas, catching five passes and drawing a pass interference penalty. When he left the game, the Raiders trailed the Cowboys 7-3. Schilens was having a great camp, if his foot holds up he could still have an excellent second half of the season, but let’s keep it in perspective.
— Cable was pleased with the game plan and effort of the Raiders against San Diego, but said the lack of “big chunk” plays in the passing game were ultimately their undoing. He praised the game management and demeanor of quarterback JaMarcus Russell, while at the same time conceding the quarterback missed some key throws and noting “We got 16 points, really, without any passing game.”
— Defensively, Cable and strong safety Michael Huff said the Raiders essentially were thinking too hard in the first half and confusing each other with defensive audibles as San Diego piled up 254 yards of total offense.
In the second half, the Raiders kept it basic, utilized a lot of man-to-man defense and got after the Chargers, holding them to less than 100 yards and a single field goal.
“We probably overcooked it a little bit,” Cable said.
Although Rivers was forced into one incompletion by a blitzing Stanford Routt, Huff said the Raiders mostly showed blitz but then played it straight up.
— Murphy and Johnnie Lee Higgins (and not Darrius Heyward-Bey, as I erroneously posted Sunday andlater corrected) had an unwanted highlight when they tripped over each other while split wide right on a play which led to a Russell sack.
“One of them was too fast coming underneath to rub for the other,” Cable said.
Said Murphy: “`Everybody’s making a big deal about that. I heard some of my teammates said they showed it on TV. Actually, I had an inside release, and Johnnie an outside release and we ran into each other. I mean, it happens.
“You can find anything to pick out at the end of the game, but you know, at the beginning of the season, fourth-and-14, was a different story. So it is what it is. Sometimes it happens like that.”
— Cable said the Raiders twice burned time outs _ once after a television time out _ because the microphone in Russell’s helmet was shorting out.
— On the Raiders’ final offensive snap, a hook and lateral designed for Higgins to pitch to Heyward-Bey running to his right, Cable said Russell waited to long to throw the ball, throwing off the timing of the play.
“It was just thrown late,” Cable said. “When Johnny was ready to catch it, Darrius was too close to him. Not enough timing in terms of the catch and the flip.”
The painful part to Cable was that the route for Heyward-Bey to the end zone appeared to be open.
“Another one of those, `almost . . . ,” Cable said.
CABLE ISSUE COULD GO EITHER WAY
The hot off the press releases from the Raiders regarding the ESPN story and allegations of violence toward women by Cable leave plenty of room for both his dismissal and for serving out the rest of the season and possibly beyond.
Release No. 1 makes it sound as if the Raiders feel there is validity to the stories, Cable is as good as gone.
Release No. 2 makes it clear they’re not going to believe it simply because ESPN reported it.
Either way, the fact that the Raiders are publicly recognizing it as an issue means Cable’s continued employment through the season is far from a slam dunk.