By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, December 25th, 2009 at 1:21 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Media free day at the facility today, with the Raiders scheduled to depart to Cleveland Saturday. A few notes to the admirably tortured souls who insist on checking in for some Raiders news on Christmas Day:
– Happened to catch the USC-Texas national championship game on ESPN Classic the other night, and while I remember all the offensive fireworks, what I didn’t note at the time was Michael Huff making plays all over the field for the Longhorns.
Sure, I remember his role in stuffing Lendale White on the fourth-and-short which put Texas in position to win, but Huff made some remarkable plays in the field as well _ similar to what he’s been doing for the last month or so with the Raiders.
Huff could play a huge role against the Browns Sunday if Eric Mangini decides to go heavy with the wildcat formation and Joshua Cribbs.
It makes sense. Cribbs considers himself a bad-weather runner, is adept at breaking tackles, and the Browns could do worse than putting it in the hands of their best player 20-plus times when you put together kick and punt returns, receptions and wildcat runs.
Nnamdi Asomugha told me Thursday he thinks the Browns run the Wildcat as well as anyone, including Miami, and wouldn’t be surprised to see it a great deal.
Which brings us to Huff. He could be the man who shadows Cribbs, a thought that was laughable a year ago while he languished on the bench, penalized for missing too many tackles.
Coach Tom Cable talked about how Huff was told last season he was being put on special teams to work on his tackling, and defensive John Marshall amplified how Huff was lectured on improving that skill.
“I think he was mad he’d been benched, and I was glad about that,” Marshall said. “I told him the challenge is you have to prove you’re a tackler. There is no question about your range to go from the middle to the sideline, no question about your coverage ability. The only question is the decision was made to move you out of there basically because you miss too many tackles.
“Now you take care of that, that’s on you.”
So how did Huff improve?
“He took all his tackles, cut ‘em up, studied his angles and footwork, and Lionel Washington went over it with him. He spent time on the sled. Plus tackling is an attitude _ maybe 95 percent attitude.”
– Asomugha got a kick out of Rob Ryan bragging to the Cleveland media about how the cornerback had dominated Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, intercepting two passes from him.
Asomugha has one career interception against San Diego, it came in 2006, and the game play-by-play said it came while defending Vincent Jackson.
“It did. I remember it,” Asomugha said. “I remember I should have had one against Gates but I dropped it. But that’s Rob _ he is always promoting his guys. And his guys love him for it.”
Note: Saw a second transcription from Ryan where he didn’t specify two interceptions, but said Asomugha had taken the ball away from Gates.
– Browns offensive coordinator Brian Daboll thinks the Raiders, as the club philosophy goes, look good getting off the bus.
“You know Al Davis, what he does over there is he gets big, strong, fast, athletic, tough guys and when they come out of the tunnel you are like, damn. They all look like Rob (Ryan),” Daboll said.
– Maybe there is something to this NFL vs. Raiders stuff. Why else would the NFL Network show the “Tuck Rule” game on Christmas Day?
– The Browns needed an extension to avoid a local television blackout. It must be a full house by Saturday at 1 p.m. The last blackout in Cleveland was 1995.
– Have a great holiday.