News and notes following coach Tom Cable’s post practice press briefing Wednesday as the Raiders prepare to host the Kansas City Chiefs:
— Defensive end Greg Ellis didn’t practice Wednesday following arthroscopic surgery. Or was that surgeries? Turns out doctors fixed more than just his knee.
“They worked on both the knee and the shoulder,” Cable said. “Everything is coming along fine, it’s just a matter of whether there’s enough time.”
Cable said if Ellis can practice by Friday, he could conceivably play. If not, rookie Matt Shaughnessy would make his first NFL start at left end.
— Ricky Schmitt, who punted for the Raiders during training camp and finished last season on the practice squad, was on the field as practice concluded, booming kicks to Johnnie Lee Higgins and practice squad returner Shaun Bodiford.
Why would Schmitt even be around, given that Shane Lechler is on pace to break Sammy Baugh’s all-time record for punting average at 52.3 yards per kick?
“Just to see if he’s had some workouts and he’s kicking better,” Cable said.
Of course, Chiefs punter Dustin Colquitt, like Schmitt, is left-footed, and it gives Higgins a chance to field a kick which comes with a different spin. And if Higgins looks shaky enough, the Raiders could always activate Bodiford.
— Predictably, and wisely, Cable isn’t about to delve into the details of how he will use Chaz Schilens and Darren McFadden, two important pieces to the offensive puzzle who went through the entirety of practice Wednesday with no limitations and are on schedule to play, if not start.
“I’m kind of messing around with personnel and how I’m going to start it and all that,” Cable said.
— The Raiders will prepare defensively this week without consideration of Larry Johnson, who rushed for 938 yards on 222 carries in 10 games against the Raiders dating back to 2004 and scored 12 touchdowns (11 rushing).
The Chiefs are ranked 24th in rushing offense, and will utilize some combination of Jamal Charles, Dantrell Savage and Kolby Smith. Smith had 31 carries for 150 yards as a rookie against the Raiders in 2007 in a game won 20-17 by Oakland at Arrowhead Stadium.
“They still have good runners,” Cable said. “It’s not like they’re going to change their system of their scheme. The runner they got is a good player. Larry was a very good player. So, it impacts it to some degree. But in this business, it’s the next man up.”
Linebacker Kirk Morrison and cornerback Chris Johnson both expect the Chiefs to try and get their smaller, shiftier runners in space rather than pound ahead as they did with Larry Johnson.
— Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel will start his second game in Oakland, having beaten the Raiders 49-26 as a member of the Patriots last season. He completed 18 of 30 passes for 218 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.
“That game in particular was a pretty emotional game for me,” Cassel told Bay Area reporters by conference call. “My father just passed away that Wednesday and we went in and it’s quite a place to play but for me personally it was quite an experience and quite a game. I was able to honor him in a nice way by us getting the victory there with the Patriots.”
— Claiming Chris Chambers off waivers from San Diego paid immediate dividends as he caught two touchdown passes in his first game. By claiming his contract, the Chiefs are obligated to pay the remainder of Chambers’ salary this season.
Before Chambers was claimed, Cable said the Raiders wouldn’t be interested “because of who we’ve got there.”
“He’s a veteran player in the league. Any place he would have went he probably would make an impact,” Raiders cornerback Chris Johnson said. “I’m not really surprised.”
— While Cable insists he “can see the mountain top” with regard to his team turning things around, Chiefs coach Todd Haley went for straight reality.
“I wish I had that sense,” Haley said. Nah, as a coach, you can just point it out. We’re 0-3 in games decided by seven points or less. That hurts, obviously. That means there’s little things on each side of the ball in each of those games that could have made a difference in winning instead of losing. So we’ve just got to continue to focus on doing all the little things right all the time, not part of the time, Keep them focused and concentrating throughout a game in order to have a win.”
— The only players who didn’t practice other than Ellis were wide receiver/return specialist Nick Miller (broken tibia) and linebacker Ricky Brown (ankle).