Raiders near full strength

Half a season is already in the books and the outside entanglements regarding coach Tom Cable remain ongoing, if not recognized on the record, but the Raiders coach seemed relieved in one respect.

He has his team.


“This is the healthiest this football team has been,” Cable said to the media following practice. “There’s no question. Particularly on offense.

“It was good to have them all back, in terms of being in, and into sync, and the energy in the huddle, all those things.”

Four projected starters _ wide receiver Chaz Schilens, left guard Robert Gallery, right tackle Cornell Green and running back Darren McFadden _ all practice Wednesday to varying degrees.

Schilens and Gallery went the distance and Green and McFadden were limited, although Cable expects both to play.

With that in mind, you would hope the Raiders can do some damage to a 1-7 Chiefs team Sunday at the Coliseum, otherwise the second half of the season could be as dismal as the first even with fellow lightweights such as Washington and Cleveland on the schedule to go along with difficult matchups against playoff hopefuls such as Cincinnati, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Denver and Baltimore.

Left tackle Mario Henderson was pleased to have Green and Gallery back, in particular Gallery, who lines up to his right on the offensive line.

“It’s going to be a good feeling to get some of the older guys back on the line, Robert and Cornell, and especially getting Gallery back. Kind of help us get that camaraderie back. It’s a good feeling when we have two players of that caliber to be able to come back. It’s really good because they help me out a lot, especially Robert.”

Some news and notes on a light Monday:

— Guard Paul McQuistan, in his fourth year out of Weber State, was cut to make room for defensive tackle William Joseph. McQuistan was a third-round draft pick, No. 69 overall, started six games as a rookie, and was considered by the short-lived Art Shell regime to be a drive blocker of great potential.

McQuistan had six more starts in 2007 as a tackle, although he never seemed to gain favor under Lane Kiffin, who hired Cable to implement a zone blocking system. He spent most of last season on injured reserve following knee surgery and never mounted a challenge to be a starter this season.

“I think he was fine in the system,” Cable said. “For us, numbers and right now who would be the next one in and he would be down the line.”

With the Raiders entrusting the center position to Samson Satele, Chris Morris will be the backup at both right and left guard, as well as center.

— Joseph was brought in because Cable felt the Raiders were pushing their luck going with a three-man rotation at tackle with Tommy Kelly, Gerard Warren and rookie Desmond Bryant (although Richard Seymour has moved inside in some packages).

Warren has battled through rib and foot injuries. Kelly was not at practice Monday, due to what Cable described as a personal matter. Cable said Kelly should return Tuesday and practice Wednesday.

— Schilens, Cable said, and is pushing through soreness natural to the injury. He was forced to back off in the days preceding the Jets game because of the pain. McFadden took about half the practice reps, but Cable said there are no issues and he expects him to play.

Cable has not said how he will break down the workload with all three runners healthy.

— Wide receiver/return specialist Nick Miller (tibia) did not practice, nor did defensive end Greg Ellis (knee). Cornerback Chris Johnson (groin) and tight end Tony Stewart (chest) were limited. Warren (foot) participated fully.

— Just before Cable took the podium, a Raiders P.R. official requested that no questions be asked regarding the “ESPN story,” presumably the one which alleges that Cable has a history of violence toward women.

Last week, Cable stuck to his original statements made through his attorney. Cable was asked if he had heard from the NFL since we had last talked, and his answer was no.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer