By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, June 14th, 2010 at 2:33 pm in Oakland Raiders.
That’s all, folks.
The Raiders media relations department said Monday the final organized team activity session of the offseason would be closed to the media.
The last open OTA was scheduled for Wednesday, but the Raiders lost that day as well as Thursday’s session when the NFL and NFL Player’s Association terminated the last two days for unspecified reasons.
Requests from media members to have the final open day moved to Tuesday were denied.
So the Raiders will wind up what looks to be their best offseason in the last decade the way Al Davis prefers _ in private.
Why close the last session?
It prevents Tom Cable from answering questions on behalf of the organization about the specifics of OTA violations. Or maybe it’s because after a handful of veterans were “excused” from last Wednesday’s session, there will be even more this week.
It’s voluntary, and from a player’s perspective, it hardly seems worth coming into town for six hours of practice and meetings as opposed to 18 hours of practice and practices and meetings. No need publicizing a much-less-than-full house.
Or the best reason with all things Raider when it comes to the media: “Because we don’t have to.”
No problem. It’s not like we were going to learn much more in 90 minutes or so that has already been gathered since the first mandatory minicamp following the draft, and it’s safe to say the Raiders aren’t much interested in those who want to read blogs and “tweets” from their practice sessions.
We already know the Raiders drafted middle linebacker Rolando McClain with the No. 8 pick and had an overall draft which in most quarters rated an enthusiastic thumbs up.
McClain seemed to need very little extra tutoring, and second-round pick Lemarr Houston, playing at end, looks like he’s going to get some offensive players riled up in training camp.
We know JaMarcus Russell is gone, and the Raiders want $9.55 million of their money back, with both moves getting thunderous applause from the fan base.
We know Jason Campbell was acquired for next to nothing, came to work early, stayed late and got most of the practice reps in what looks to be a much-improved passing game. It’s more than just “throw it to Zach Miller and hope for a first down.”
We know Darrius Heyward-Bey looks much, much better, although the real proof will come with full contact. If you told me right now he’d catch 40 passes for 700 yards and six touchdowns this year, I’d consider it a possibility. If you’d have told me that last year, I’d have laughed in your face.
We know Hue Jackson is the new voice and direction of the offense. He’s pushing buttons, challenging players to be competitive and go after the defense in a way that hasn’t been seen since Jon Gruden left following the 2001 season.
We know that despite the loss of the OTAs and the fact that a player likely got the ball rolling with the union, the workouts have generally been spirited and the players seemed to be having fun and setting a good tempo.
Face it _ there are worse things in the world than losing a couple of practices because someone thinks you’re working too hard.
We know that the Raiders bucked a league-wide trend by getting all their restricted free agents signed to tenders early and with no problems.
Here’s what we don’t know:
– If Darren McFadden can break some tackles and become the running-receiving weapon the Raiders hoped he’d be when they took him No. 4 overall in 2008, and join forces with Michael Bush to return the Raiders running game to top 10 status.
– Blocking and tackling. It’s not allowed in the offseason in any real sense, and they were two big weaknesses for the Raiders last season.
– Linebackers’ ability to cover. It was the least accomplished part of McClain’s game in college, weak side linebacker Trevor Scott is a converted defensive end, and Kamerion Wimbley also has the build of a lineman.
– Defensive alignment. Will the Raiders truly be creative this season, mix in some 3-4, play some exotic defenses with the changes in personnel and an abundance of linebackers? The acquisition (although still not confirmed by the Raiders on their Web site) of defensive tackle John Henderson adds a player who has played exclusively in the 4-3.
– We don’t know the true intentions of Richard Seymour because he hasn’t been around and hasn’t signed his exclusive franchise free agent tender. But that’s not unusual. When he was an exclusive franchise free agent, Nnamdi Asomugha waited until training camp to sign as well. What we don’t know is whether Seymour will show up to camp on time or take his time.
Either way, he’s not passing up $13 million this season if a long-term deal isn’t reached.