By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, May 19th, 2010 at 1:30 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Some news, notes and observations from the Raiders’ minicamp practice Wednesday:
– JaMarcus Russell is gone, and if Tom Cable has his way, will be forgotten as well.
After a few perfunctory answers about the former No. 1 overall draft pick, with Cable stressing the need to move forward, the coach said, “Let’s not talk about someone who is not on our team anymore. It’s done, it’s over and we have to move forward.”
Jason Campbell, the trade acquisition who is expected to be the Raiders No. 1 quarterback, said he gave Russell words of encouragement.
“We had a lot of conversations,” Campbell said. “I told him there are things that happen in professional sports that are out of our control and the only thing you can do is move forward and not let anything get you down. Like I told him, he’s still young in his career. I think the thing he has to do in the summer is put in the work and then when his opportunity comes again just do your best.”
Put in the work. With Russell, it always comes down to those four words.
– The passing game struggled quite a bit on a day heavy with blitz packages and red zone sessions. With pass rushers coming free and a compacted field, Campbell, Charlie Frye and Kyle Boller all made some poor decisions under pressure.
Considering there is a new offensive coordinator in Hue Jackson, quarterbacks in Campbell and Boller who are getting used to new teammate, there was an acceptable margin of error in the mind of Cable.
“We’re going to try and have as much blitz pressure as we can,” Cable said. “I like what I saw, they’re going to get there a couple of times, but as they get more comfortable with what they’re doing we’ll pick it up and throw it better.”
– Whether the margin of error was acceptable for Jackson is another matter, because it doesn’t sound as if the Raiders have any intention of making him available to the media before training camp.
Jackson may be muzzled following practice where the media is concerned, but he is the dominant voice during practice, exhorting the offense to play at a faster tempo. He pushes, prods, criticizes and agitates.
“He’s very energetic. He talks a lot of smack,” Campbell said. “That’s his whole goal during practice is to make someone mad on defense. It excites everyone around us. There’s not going to be a quiet practice here, I know. As long as he’s here, it’s going to be rowdy.”
Said quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, sidelined until training camp after pectoral surgery but attending practices and meetings: “I love the way he gets after it. He’s discplined, he’s hard-nosed and he’s going to get after the guys. That’s what we need.”
– Jackson’s changes in the offense appear to have been substantial. Cable said Boller “had some of this offense before,” referring to a year the quarterback spent in Baltimore on injured reserve while Jackson was the quarterbacks coach for the Ravens.
That would indicate the Raiders are adapting to Jackson and some major changes, rather than Jackson putting a spin on what Cable did the last two years.
– Rookie defensive end Lamarr Houston and offensive lineman Bruce Campbell, as well as free agent defensive end Alex Daniels, had school issues and could not attend practice. Houston and Campbell, Cable said, were expected Wednesday night.
– Veterans who didn’t practice were Gradkowski, wide receiver Chaz Schilens and defensive end Matt Shaughnessy, who sustained a hamstring strain during Tuesday’s practice. Schilens is expected to be out until training camp after follow-up surgery on his left foot.
Nick Miller, who spent last season as a spectator on the 53-man roster for 15 games before going on injured reserve with a broken shin bone, was on the field and practicing with the offense Wednesday.
Gradkowski is out of the sling he wore on his left arm following pectoral surgery and said, “I’ll be ready to go full go by camp, no question, maybe before then.”
– One conversion project the Raiders will never attempt _ Chris Johnson to wide receiver. He dropped three potential interceptions Wednesday, drawing derisive chatter from safety Tyvon Branch at one point.
– Offensive linemen did some switching of positions, with Khalif Barnes again getting a lot of time at left guard. Rookie tackle Jared Veldheer even played briefly at center.
“It’s really just moving some pieces around, trying to expose them to as much as we can,” Cable said.
– Cable’s update on contract talks with defensive lineman Richard Seymour: “Still working, still working.”
Any chance Seymour will be around for any of the OTAs before training camp?
“I don’t know that at this point,” Cable said.
That’s a little less optimistic than the minicamp declaration that the two sides appeared to be near an agreement on a new contract.
Seymour has not signed the exclusive franchise tender which will pay him just under $12.4 million this season. If a long-term deal is not worked out, Seymour could leave the tender unsigned deep into training camp, as Charles Woodson did, or sign it and be in camp on time as Nnamdi Asomugha did.
– Cable, an avid Boston Celtics and New York Yankees fan, is more than a little pleased at Boston’s 2-0 lead over Orlando in the NBA playoffs.
“It’ll be a Celtics-Yankees-Raiders year,” Cable said. “It’s starting to look like it. You never know . . . ”
Some practice updates can be found on my Twitter page.