News, notes and quotes Tuesday as the Raiders on a short week prepared for a Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas:
— The Raiders sent pressure Carson Palmer’s way several times early on against Cincinnati and wound up down 14-0. Yet throughout the final two and a half quarters they continued to confound the Bengals with pressure and even got key sacks from Tyvon Branch and Stanford Routt.
“On a couple of those plays we were right at the ball but didn’t make a play on the ball,” defensive coordinator John Marshall said. “As long as the coverage is right and it doesn’t break down then we’ll have a chance. We’ll start making plays, or get to the quarterback.”
— According to Raiders.com, Branch has been named the club’s recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award.
— Among the congratulatory calls or texts Bruce Gradkowski received following the Bengals game were from Jon Gruden, his first NFL coach in Tampa Bay, and Jeff Garcia, a close friend he considers his mentor. Fear not, Gradkowski is only 25, but know show to play the media game. If Gruden or Garcia said anything incendiary regarding the Raiders, he’ll never tell.
“I talk to Jeff every week, and coach Gruden sent me a text,” Gradkowski said. “I told him he was doing a good job on Monday Night Football. It’s god to know those guys are watching and keeping an eye out, and I’m just excited to be out here and be able to play.”
As for replacing Garcia after Garcia made it clear he wanted out, Gradkowski said, “It’s crazy how things work out and that’s the nature of this business. Everything happens for a reason. I truly believe that, and I just take it as it comes.”
— Gradkowski’s father still works at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette _ where he worked at one time with the father of Dan Marino.
“I actually didn’t get to meet Dan Marino until after my rookie season, and it was a neat thing,” Gradkowski said.
— Rather than refute the commonly held belief that the Raiders have an inability handle success, Cable said the only way to change the perception is to win two in a row.
“This league is about consistency,” Cable said. “It’s a player or a team being able to perform consistently, and that’s really what we’re shooting for. I think for us to get where we want to be, that’s the real last piece here. And the only way to do it is to do it.”
After the Raiders beat the Eagles and before a 38-0 loss to the Jets, Cable rebuked the notion _ most recently proffered by Showtime commentator and ex-Raider Warren Sapp _ that the Raiders were at their worst after a win.
Punter Shane Lechler, asked about it Tuesday, looked at the results and sided with Sapp.
“I agree. Especially over the last six years, you win one, and the way it’s approached the next week . . . and it’s not about the staff, it’s in here,” Lechler said. “Things aren’t handle the right way. Guys become real cool . . . I hate to say it, but after the Philadelphia, people read press clippings. It was one game.”
— With Jon Alston ruled out with concussion symptoms and Isaiah Ekejiuba not practicing with an ankle injury, the Raider would be without two key special teams players and the possibility exists that Slade Norris could be activated. If the Raiders deem Alston’s condition seriously enough, he could be headed for injured reserve.
That would mean two key special teams veterans would be replaced by two players fresh off the practice squad _ David Nixon and Norris.
Nixon was promoted the day before the Bengals game after having a solid training camp as an undrafted free agent out of Brigham Young and being signed to the practice squad.
“I knew Jon Alston wasn’t feeling well throughout the week, but I had no inkling,” Nixon said. “I got the call, came in, signed the contract, met with (John Fassel), went over the scheme, and not only was I on the roster, I was active and was going to play.”
Nixon was on two of the four special teams and played on all of them once Ekejiuba left with an ankle injury.
— Cowboys wide receiver Miles Austin is a symbol of hope for special teams players. He did little else for the better part of two years for Dallas and has exploded on to the scene this season with 35 receptions for 679 yards and seven touchdowns. That’s only five less catches than all the Raiders wide receivers combined, more yards, and five more touchdowns.
— Here’s how Charles Woodson characterized his stay with the Raiders on the Jim Rome Show recently:
“It’s always been kind of wild and crazy. But when I came in, I think it was a little better under Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen. They had pretty good control on things. And you know, we had some good players, so regardless of how wild and crazy it was, we had some players out there that could just flat out get it done. So we played through a lot of the negative stuff. Now, that’s not the case. Now they have some good players, but it’s nowhere near the talent we had when we were winning.”
As usual, Woodson effectively cuts to the heart of the matter. The Raiders “talent” has not been all its been made out to be over the last six years.
And as usual, Woodson leaves out the fact that he didn’t exactly dedicate himself to the cause once the ship started sinking. Played his heart out on Sundays, but not a real grinder during the week, either in practice or in preparation.