Coach Tom Cable called the involvement of wide receiver Chaz Schilens “limited” Wednesday, but that’s not to be mistaken for taking it easy.
Schilens was planting and driving hard off his left foot during drills as well as seven-on-seven sessions and team sessions. He wasn’t limping or favoring the foot in any way, and it’s worth noting that Schilens also practiced Tuesday as well.
Considering Cable had originally suggested Schilens would be out until training camp, it was welcome progress.
“I’ll do what the trainers tell me but I’d like to run as many routes as possible,” Schilens said. “I’ll try and get a few more reps. Right now it’s just taking it slow. I’m happy with how I feel and that’s what’s most important.”
Schilens was reluctant to discuss his foot problems of a year ago but it wasn’t hard to read between the lines and understand that despite his 29 receptions over the last eight games, he never really approached the level of play reached during training camp and the initial broken metatarsal. He had surgery at the time of the break, and again after the season.
“It was kind of something I knew by the way I felt,” Schilens said. “I gave myself some time off after the season. I didn’t get the surgery and then I kind of thought about it and talked to them and we made a decision to go ahead with it. I think it was the right one because I feel good now, better than last year.”
Schilens, who employed the polite strategy of “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” when asked about JaMarcus Russell for most of the past two years, had no problem identifying what he liked about new quarterback Jason Campbell.
“He’s smart, intelligent, throws a good ball,” Schilens said. “He works hard at learning the offense. I’m happy.”
More OTA news, notes and observations:
— Considering the experience level of the Raiders’ receiving corps and the need for someone to catch 60-plus passes and provide first downs, it’s hard to overstate the importance of getting Schilens back healthy and making sure he stays that way.
— Darrius Heyward-Bey update _ still looking good. Real good.
Training camp, full contact and preseason games will be far more significant, of course, but Heyward-Bey has outplayed Louis Murphy in each of the last two OTA sessions open to the media _ and there wasn’t a single time you could have said that last year.
Included was a 20-plus-yard red zone strike from Jason Campbell, leaving a badly beaten Walter McFadden in the dust, and a handful of other receptions. On another play, Campbell, under a heavy rush, threw a ball off his back foot with Heyward Bey running from left to right, accelerating back to the ball and making the catch with both feet in bounds.
Heyward-Bey is shrugging off the good practices in the same way he did the bad ones.
“Just playing, playing fooball,” Heyward-Bey said. “I’m just out there playing.”
— DHB on Campbell: “He’s looking for me. When I’m out there, I’m just thinking the ball’s coming to me every down, no matter who the quarterback is.”
— Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware were beaten repeatedly by the Raiders passing game, and the rookies were hearing about it unflattering terms from boisterios new secondary coach Kevin Ross as well as returning defensive backs coach Lionel Washington, who is usually more low key.
“Hey, this ain’t no time to (bleeping) play catch, let’s go!,” Ross yelled with disgust.
Later, Washington said, `C’mon, let’s make a (bleeping) play. Let’s go!”
Cable, asked about the rookie defensive backs taking a beating, was taking the long-term approach.
“It’s gold,” Cable said. “In many ways, those guys (Asomugha, Johnson) not being here kind of helps this time of year because you get to see where McFadden and those guys are and what they’re learning.”
— On one play, wide receiver Todd Watkins caught a short pass and had no trouble losing Rolando McClain on a spin move. McClain’s ability to defend the pass in training camp will be a big storyline.
Another play with a similar issue _ tight end Brandon Myers finding a seam in the red zone and catching a perfectly-thrown Campbell pass over strong side linebacker Kamerion Wimbley.
Expect teams to test the ability of Wimbley, McClain and Trevor Scott by spreading the field and attacking the linebackers.
— Wide receiver Shaun Bodiford had one of the few outright drops by receivers on the day, and later, after a catch, incurred the wrath of offensive coordinator Hue Jackson for stepping out of bounds after holding on to a later pass.
“What did you go out of bounds for? We don’t get any points for running out of bounds,” Jackson said. “We’ve got too many good athletes to run out of damn bounds.”
— Defensive tackle Lemarr Houston went on an unprintable and extremely politically incorrect rant directed at Samson Satele following one play. Just guessing, but Houston will be involved in twice as many scuffles as anyone one else in Napa.
“You get get those young people like (Houston) and Dez Bryant and Tyvon Branch and Rolando, all from kind of the same mold, that you’ve got to be relentless to play defense,” Cable said. “I see Lemarr bringing that to practice every day. When he gets the chance to have contact and do those things, I think it will just elevate everybody, otherwise he’ll be a pain in their rear.”
— Cable was a fan of John Wooden long before he served as an assistant coach at UCLA. But it was while at UCLA that Cable was able to not only meet Wooden, but have a picture of the Wizard of Westwood with his two sons.
“I’ve used the pyramid (of success) for a long time, my dad actually taught me from it,” Cable said. “It didn’t matter what he talked about. There was always something to it if you were willing to sit and listen.”
— If the 49ers want to identify one of the main threats to their Santa Clara stadium dream, they might want to consult Al Davis.
It was Carmen Policy who Davis felt helped torpedo a proposed stadium at Hollywood Park, and it’s Policy who is now part of a group still hoping the 49ers end up in San Francisco should the Santa Clara financing fail to materialize.
Update on the Darren McFadden-Michael Bush situation to come later . . .