Managed to get a transcript of the Q&A session with Raiders coach Tom Cable at the Indianapolis scouting combine Sunday. So here it, is, albeit a day late:
Q: What is the Raiders QB situation for 2010?
Cable: You know, getting ready to start the offseason and get to OTAs and minicamp and let the job be competed for. That’s where we’re at in terms of our starting quarterback.
Q: Who will competition include?
Cable: All those guys so long as we can get some them re-signed and see if we add anybody to the mix.
Q: Is QB a position you might look for in the draft?
Cable: For us, we have to look at a number of things, so I don’t think you would discount that or any other position.
Q: What are some other positions of need?
Cable: For us right now probably working a little bit on the line of scrimmage and the secondary and some things like that. And really come away from this combine and knowing what’s going to be available, so you can really put your finger on some of that.
Q: Offensive or defensive line?
Cable: I think both. You always have to look at it and see where you want to be in those two areas.
Q: Is offensive tackle a position you would’ve wanted to fill last year?
Cable: The way Mario Henderson played to close out 2008, we felt good pretty good about it. As long as we can continue to get him better and improve him, which he’s done, and we’ll make the right decisions that way.
Q: What was the impact of Richard Seymour?
Cable: I think he was everything I thought he’d be. I heard a lot about who he is as a person and what he’d bring to the locker room and the practice field and preparation and all those things. To me, he accomplished everything I heard about him. The thing I probably was most excited about was how much he impacted our young players on the football team. He’s been in the NFL for some time and he knows how to prepare. How to get himself ready, how to take notes. The time it takes, day to day, week to week, as you go through the season. And, ultimately, how to take care of your body. So I think there were a lot of good lessons learned there from a bunch of young football players.
Q: Is there some blueprint that can used comparing JaMarcus Russell to Vince Young?
Cable: I have not put a lot of thought on this at this point. Right now the focus has been on getting this evaluated and getting ready for free agency and the draft. JaMarcus is working and doing things he should be doing right now. And he’ll get himself prepared to compete for the job. That’s the only way to look at it.
Q: How important is Seymour’s leadership on young players?
Cable: Very important. Both he and Greg Ellis brought a lot of that to our football team. And guys like Charlie Frye and Bruce Gradkowski I thought brought some of that to the other side of the ball. I don’t think you can ever have a team that can turn it around and start building something without that type of leadership in the locker room.
Q: Are you hoping Seymour extends his deal beyond the one year?
Cable: I certainly you hope so. We’ll continue to work on all that. And I think Richard wants to be there and get his family settled. Those are the things important to him.
Q: Have Darren McFadden’s injuries kept him from taking lead role?
Cable: I think so. Every time he’s gotten himself going and had pretty good production something has happened to either take him out of that game or not let him be as big a part in the next one. He’s a fine player and as he’s able to stay healthy for longer periods of time you’ll see more for what we all hope.
Q: Reaction to possibility overtime rules will be changed for playoffs
Cable: Well, you know, for me, having spent quite a while in college football, that’s kind of the dynamic way to play overtime. I think both teams getting a fair shot at it and put into a stress environment in terms of a short field and all of those things and yet play off each other and answer what the other team did. I think that brings more strategy into this whole thing. Where they go with it and how they get there will be talked about and decided. I’m comfortable with it. I think there needs to be something, so we’ll see what they’re doing.
Q: What if it’s just used in playoffs and not regular season?
Cable: Well, again, we’ll see. Hopefully we’re one of the teams in playoffs that has to worry about that sort of thing.
Q: Do you expect Javon Walker to be on the team? And why haven’t you been able to get him going?
Cable: To answer the second question first, really we’ve had the emergence of those young players and really Louis Murphy, Chaz Schilens and Johnnie Lee Higgins give us something. Darius Heyward-Bey gets hurt and misses a good chunk of the season. So I think it’s there development and trying to bring that group along. Will he be there next year? We’ll see.
Q: Compare having one guy to get all offseason reps at QB, opposed to competition?
Cable: To me, that would help our football team right now to get into more of that competition. As we said the last time we met as a football team, the next step for us as a team is going to be the biggest, it’s going to be the hardest. We’re competitive now, but you got to win more and win the games you’re supposed to win. And I think competition helps you do those kinds of things. I’m all for having guys going at it and battle for the job.
Q: Was your job security ever a question for you?
Cable: No, it wasn’t. We went through the evaluation process. As I was told, ‘You’re under contract and we need to talk about everything.’ That’s what we did. There was a lot of speculation but the whole time I went to work every day and did what I knew I needed to do to get ready for the evaluation, get ready for the Senior Bowl,
ready for all those things that were coming up.
Q: When were you told you were coming back?
Cable: I was never told I wasn’t. . . . That’s the one misnomer. There was a lot of speculation. But every day I went to work and every day I got ready for the routine, the self-scout and all the things you’d normally do. So for me sitting back, I wondered what all the fuss was about. I just going to work every day.
Q: How do you cope with all the distractions?
Cable: I don’t have that much distraction. I have a wonderful wife and kids and good family. Good coaching staff. Players I like to be around and coach all the time. So I really don’t worry about things I can’t control. Those are things that are immediate in my life that I can take care of.
Q: Are you taking part in negotiating contracts?
Cable: We’ve all kind of been involved in it, meaning the owner and I and other people in the building. I think that’s the way it’s always been done. It was that way last year and again this year. For me, it’s nothing new.
Q: Were you in the room when Sebastian Janikowski’s contract was being negotiated?
Cable: Some of that, yes.
Q: Nnamdi Asomugha has been rumored as a player on the trade block. Are you open to trading your best player?
Cable: We get a ton of calls about a lot of players on our football team all the time. In fact, before I came in here I was on the phone about something. To me, that stuff happens in the NFL. It’s going to happen all the time, so people call you and you listen. And see if anything interests you or doesn’t interest you. Sometimes it’s crazier than you think what they’re talking about. So you just take the call and you listen.
Q: Do you want to tell us who you were talking to?
Q: Are you sure?
Q: Mike Iupati, guard from Idaho, and his chance to be a strong player?
Cable: Absolutely. First of all, he’s an Idaho Vandal, so I’m biased. He’s a terrific player. I think his future will be very bright. He’s going to have to transition from that level to the NFL. But he showed he has the ability to do that at the Senior Bowl. I’m very proud of him. I’m pulling for him to succeed, big time.
Q: How much do the Raiders place on the combine. Perception is biggest-fastest-strongest is going to be a Raider?
Cable: I don’t know. How about the best player? Let’s talk that way. We need to get better in some areas, so you got to look at this thing and find who you think the best players are, rather than they jump the highest or run the fastest. It shouldn’t make a damn difference. He has to be able to play football good enough for you to become a championship team. At the end of the day, that’s what really counts. A lot of guys who run fast can’t play dead. For me, get the best players targeted
and go back and sit down as a group, collectively put that together, and start your process.
Q: Given that, how did Darius Heyward-Bey’s first season go?
Cable: I think there were some good and some things that were probably disappointing. The injury, to me, is disappointing. I think the amount of pressure that was put on that kid from all angles, the scrutiny came the day he was picked, probably unfair but, hey, this is the NFL and that’s what it is. But with his work ethic and his character, he’s going to be what he’s supposed to be. You’ll be excited to write about him soon.
Q: Have you made your RFA tenders?
Cable: We’ll do that when we get back.
Q: How would you assess the performance of Michael Huff?
Cable: I’ve always felt Michael was on the cusp of his breakthrough. He had it this year. Lionel Washington and those guys on defense really got him ready to go, and I thought he was outstanding the whole year from the first game all the way through the last one. It was definitely a breakthrough for Michael, and hopefully that’s just the sign of where he’s at as a player now and we can get a lot of big play from him.
Q: Do you still need to weed out guys who `don’t get it’?
Cable: I think as I stood up here last year we talked about some of those things. I think we’ve done that. We kind of go to work for a common theme now, which is to succeed. And I don’t think you can do that if you have a bunch of knuckleheads. I feel good about our team. What I want to do is improve our team. What I want to do is improve our team and it’s talent level and take the younger players and develop them even further than we have at this point. So I like where the team’s at that way. For us, again, the next step is becoming a winning team with some consistency. And that’ll be the hardest step.
Q: What does team need to do to improve?
Cable: All of the above. The first thing we need to do is get better at taking care of the football offensively and getting turnovers defensively. Then, we got to throw the ball on offense and stop the big play on defense. You can put your hands on those things. You can say that’s something we have to start from Day 1 and start preaching – not that we haven’t. But it’s got to become so focused here – not take anything away from anything else. But those areas, if we can really make some inroads there, we’ll be a pretty good team.
Q: What’s the risk of taking a player like Mike Mitchell who wasn’t invited to the combine? And were you concerned about public perception?
Cable: No. Look, what I’ve been through, that doesn’t matter to me that way. If people watch Mike play the last six weeks, they’d say, ‘That’s why they took him.’ He was sensational. He impacted the last six games as much as anybody on our defense in a number of ways because he can play in all your packages. So to worry about that now, not at all. The bottom line is to find the best players whether they’re under a rock or at the combine. It doesn’t matter.
Q: Was there a feeling somebody else was going to get Mitchell?
Cable: We knew teams knew about him. We knew there were three other teams that liked Mike like we did. So it was going to be a matter of who came up first in the draft.
Q: With all you gave up to acquire Seymour, was the value there?
Cable: I think so, if you look at what he brought to our team . . . the opponents’ ability, or lack thereof, to run at him, run on that side of the line of scrimmage. I’d like to see a little more pass rush out of him, which he’ll probably be the first to tell you that. But with all those things considered, yeah, definitely. If you can get that out of a first-round pick, you’ve done pretty well.
Q: Has Russell given you assurances he’ll take care of himself in the offseason?
Cable: It’s really not about him giving assurances. It’s simply, he has a job to do like everybody else. Do your job and do it in a matter helps this team succeed. We have talked a couple of times. I know he’s working and I’m anxious for the offseason program to get started so we can see him all the time.