Camp questions: Can Mario be super?

With reporting day less than two weeks away, the fourth in a series of questions and issues to be sorted out in Napa:

Can Mario Henderson establish himself as an upper eschelon left tackle?

Henderson is the prohibitive favorite to be the blindside protector for new quarterback Jason Campbell, but flash back to April 22 and it’s apparent the Raiders weren’t averse to looking for something better.

There was much rejoicing when the Raiders took Alabama linebacker Rolando McClain with the No. 8 pick in the first round. Amid the euphoria, coach Tom Cable did a strange thing when discussing the process.

Rather than lapse in to the usual “we got exactly who we wanted all along” coach-speak, Cable conceded McClain was the man only after Oklahoma tackle Trent Williams and Oklahoma State tackle Russell Okung went off the board at Nos. 4 and 6 to Washington and Seattle.

Williams and Okung are regarded as plug-in players, and the Raiders wisely addressed the need for a potentially dominant front seven defender rather than opt for Rutgers’ Anthony Davis (who went to No. 11 and the 49ers) or Iowa’s Bryan Bulaga (No. 23 to the Packers).

New linemen came in rounds 3 and 4, with Hillsdale’s Jared Veldheer and Maryland’s Bruce Campbell. But it’s unlikely either is a training camp threat, and the Raiders have in fact had Veldheer take some snaps as a center and played Campbell almost exclusively at right guard.

So Henderson, who escaped any real competition in 2009 when the Raiders opted for Darrius Heyward-Bey ahead of Mississippi State tackle Michael Oher, looks to be the man again, with supposed competitor Khalif Barnes also taking snaps inside and on the right side with Langston Walker.

According to some statistical services, Henderson led the NFL in sacks allowed in 2009, although only the teams themselves know through knowledge of their blocking schemes who was responsible for a sack on a given play and those stats are kept to themselves. It didn’t help that JaMarcus Russell was essentially a statue whose poor footwork had him at the incorrect depth, setting linemen up for failure.

But backup Bruce Gradkowski ended up with two MCL tears, and Charlie Frye sustained a concussion, so it’s clear quarterback wasn’t the safest place to be.

Utilized as a pawn in the Lane Kiffin-Al Davis wars, with the former coach criticizing the left tackle in public in part to motivate him and in part to tweak the boss who made the draft pick, Henderson got his chance under Cable. He performed well at the end of the 2008 season as a starter, neutralizing the likes of Mario Williams and Richard Seymour, and was told privately by Cable the left tackle job was his for the taking last year even before Barnes broke an ankle in training camp.

The hope for the Raiders is that Henderson is the same late bloomer who went from non-factor to a third-round draft pick at Florida State despite not winning a starting job until his senior year. Henderson’s play may have slipped last year in part because of the absence of left guard Robert Gallery, who made only six starts because of a broken fibula and back surgery.

Cable has done most of the pushing and prodding with Henderson , who has said he regards the coach as a “father figure.” At minicamps and organized team activities open to the media, Cable done much less with the offensive line, leaving it to position coach Jim Michalczik and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.

The Raiders have been in search of an anchor at left tackle since they returned to Oakland in 1995. Davis thought he had Orlando Pace in 1997 when he traded up for the second pick in the draft, only to have the Rams move up to No. 1.

While Barry Sims served with distinction on three division champions, the Raiders tried three times to replace him through the draft (Mo Collins, Matt Stinchcomb, Gallery). Kwame Harris was short-team disaster in 2008.

Henderson goes into camp trying to prove he’s more than simply another left tackle going through the revolving door.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • SnB offense defense specialteams


    What’s a baller? I want scorers? I want yards. This guy is headed to the UFL. His contributions didn’t help the team win?

    Fargas is over the hill. He flashed a little bit, but he’s not the guy.

    Problem is we have a Head Coach that has no clue on how to evaluate talent.

    Fargas should get on with someone else. Go to SEattle or something.

    DMAC and Bush…that’s it. Gotta see if they can play. and 8 carries a game for those two ain;t going to cut it.

  • Just Fire Baby

    Our offense was at our best, when Fargas and Gradkowski were playing.

    May not sit well with some of you, but that is a fact.

    Bush-McFadden 90% of the carries? Darren hasn’t been able to string together a month of football, and you expect him to increase his workload and productivity?

  • Just Fire Baby

    What’s happening Buck?

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    DMAC & Bush 90% of all RB touches

    No vet signings at wide receiver

    Let these young guys play. I am tired of these old do-nothing veterans

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    Just Fire Baby,

    You could put me at running back with any qB but JaDavis and it would be an improvement.

    Gradkowski and Fargas? Really?

    No f’n team in the NFL would go in with that lineup by choice….NOT ONE!

    Those two are fringe NFL players…..not freekn starters!

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    Just Fire Baby,

    I don’t care if Bush, DMAC, DHB, Schilens, Murphy and the rest tank the season.

    At some freekn point, we just gotta get these guys ball and see what they can do. Otherwise junk them and draft new players.

    I am sooooo sick and freekn tired of watching plodding, middling, fringe NFL players being passed off as serviceable starters….only to see them out of the league a year or two later.

  • SnB offense defense specialteams

    That’s why I am not exactly HYPED about this year. Cautious optimism maybe. But I keep seeing guys like Satele, Tommy Kelly Coop Carlisle, BArnes, Walker, whoever is playing fullback, come in here and jack things up.

    Stick with young players with potential…no more of these washout vets with no future.

  • Just Fire Baby

    Darren averaged 3.4 ypc, and fumbled more than Bush and Fargas combined, even though he had the least carries of the three.

    Why give him anything?

  • Plunketthead

    So far Bush and Mac have not proven they are able to step up and deliver.
    Maybe they can take some lessons from these guys.


  • Just Fire Baby

    Stick with young players with potential


    That was the recipe for disaster last year.

    Stick with Jamarcus, and DHB, and Darren, and Thomas Howard because they have…..potential.

    Fck potential. That is what you call a young guy who isn’t any good.

  • Just Fire Baby

    Mike Bush is young, and has played well. Same with Tyvon Branch, Lou Murphy and Trevor Scott.

    Never hear about their “potential”, just there production.

  • # SnB offense defense specialteams Says:
    July 16th, 2010 at 5:31 pm


    What’s a baller? I want scorers? I want yards. This guy is headed to the UFL. His contributions didn’t help the team win?

    Fargas is over the hill. He flashed a little bit, but he’s not the guy.

    Problem is we have a Head Coach that has no clue on how to evaluate talent.

    Fargas should get on with someone else. Go to SEattle or something.

    DMAC and Bush…that’s it. Gotta see if they can play. and 8 carries a game for those two ain;t going to cut it.
    I do not disagree with anything you are saying. I did say would of liked to seen, Not I want to see.

    It is time DM or Bush take the starting job and handle it.

  • buckeyeraider

    If Fargas comes back, which I said he might when he was released, it will be as a backup,IMO. He will be battling Bennet and Cartwright for the 3rd RB spot. He would be a valuable backup they have confidence in if push comes to shove. Nothing more.

    It is Bush and McFadden’s time to shine. These young guys need to step up.

  • Just Fire Baby

    Give Bush the feature back role, use Darren as a weapon in the passing game, and give Rock, Bennett or Fargas the other carries.

    RB’s rarely develop. Chris Johnson had 2,000 yards his second year, when his team started 0-6 and had no QB. When you can run with the rock, you can run with the rock.

  • buckeyeraider

    It feels like DMac has already been around forever.
    But he hasn’t. His Rookie year he got the turf toe injury on BOTH feet. Which he tried to shoot up and play through. I think it affected his balance and confidence. That injury happened in wk 2, in a game in which he was just shredding the Chiefs. It was at the end of that season vs Hou, that he had another excellent game. He looke like the all around threat the Raiders drafted @ 4.

    Last year he hurt the knee in what wk 4 or 5 vs those same Texans.

    He has shown flashes, but as of yet has been a disapointment. This year could be make or break. He needs to show he can stay healthy and withstand the rigors of an NFL season at the least, for sure.

    I know there is a huge step up from college ball to the pros. But, the SEC is the closest thing there is to AAA. I can’t believe the guy would tear up the SEC like that two years in a row, and then get to the NFL and be a chump.

    I think, as Raider fans we are not exactly sure what we have in DMac, yet. Kell once said he thought DMaC was saving himself for a post Raiders career. I don’t buy that. This year is huge for Darren.

  • Just Fire Baby

    Darren HAS produced in the passing game. We need to focus on that, and get the most out of him in that arena.

    As far as him taking carries, he has done well when given good-blocking, just like any back. I never have seen him break multiple tackles, or bounce an inside run to the outside. Lacking vision, ability to break tackles, and being injury and fumble prone is a tough switch to turn from off to on.

    We shall see. I am still sticking with Jerry’s original call on him being a Ronnie Harmon type back. Lots of catches, not many carries.

  • priesttj


    Just curious man, If you could biuld a team how would YOU do it? You seem to think it’s easy to just get whatever player you want. Like great talent is just nsitting around waiting on the Raiders to pick them up.

  • Fargas realize’s he’s not getting another gig so he’s probably been calling Al 12 times a day saying he will backup Bush & Dmac.

  • buckeyeraider

    Fair enough points all,Vegas.
    But remember, everybody is different. And players can have breakout years. Vernon Davis was considered a huge disappointment his first couple of seasons. Even got kicked off the field and berated. Then he breaks out, has a probowl season and catches 13 td’s.

    Huff, showed signs of breaking out last year. He was decent but unspectacular his first few seasons. No big plays for a top 10 safety. Then last year he gets 3 int’s in the first two games.

    Like you said, we shall see. That’s why I can’t wait for this season. Let’s see how he looks with a professional QB under center. Better play at WR. Hell, hopefully a much improved passing game period.

    And an improved defense, working hand in hand with the O, and getting them the ball back.
    Can’t wait to get this season started. Bring on 2010!

  • Just Fire Baby


    Very true that sometimes potential sees the light. I think Darren has great potential in the passing game, but he only really had 200 yards receiving last year. I still think we have seen enough of those “flashes”.

    Vernon is a good example, but he was never brutally awful, he just didn’t live up to, here’s that word again, his potential.

    I always thought Huff got a bad shake his first few years. He played well, and tackled well, he just didn’t make the impact plays.

    Again, bring on 2010!! First preseason game is in like 40 days. Can’t wait.

  • Just Fire Baby

    Bobby Carpenter just went on Hannity and may have been even more right-wing than Sean himself.

    Wonder how that will play out in the locker room.

  • buckeyeraider

    Just back from Denver Colorado you say?
    Beautiful part of the country isn’t it? My cousin lives in Colorado Springs. It was quite a shock to have your morning coffee on the back deck and look at the Rockie Mtns in your back yard.
    I was out there last in ’88. Got my picture at the summit of Pike’s Peak in my Raider jersey.

    She always tells me I need to take the girls out there. Gonna have to do it someday.

  • Just Fire Baby Says:
    July 16th, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Our offense was at our best, when Fargas and Gradkowski were playing.


    Facts be damned. They both suck.

    Oh, ok. I won’t be like you. I actually prefer to go by facts.

    And here’s a fact for you.

    This team was better with JaMarcus Russell than it was the 3 years before him. It may not sit well with you, but it’s true.

  • Just Fire Baby

    Yes, hate to admit it, but Denver is a pretty cool place. I stayed downtown on a Tuesday and Wednesday, and in a previous time in my life could have a REAL good time, besides the good time I had.

    Airport is a mess though.

  • Just Fire Baby Says:
    July 16th, 2010 at 6:18 pm
    Darren HAS produced in the passing game.


    Produced? You must mean turnovers. He is a waste, a bust, and a scourge to victory. Adios DMAC, none too soon.

  • priesttj


    Where are you man? grace us wwith your knowledge as to wha th Riders don’t understand about biulding a team. You seem to think it’s so freakin easy. You should be able to give us AB and C on how it’s done. If you can’t and you are just as isnorant as they are as to where this resevoir of talent that they haven’t tapped into. Just maybe……. now I don’t want sound stupid either but just mayb they’re doing the best they can. Just maybe not every player on any team is a great player maybe there are role players or “fringe” players on every team.

    The talent pool for great players is just not that deep and getting as many great players on one team at any given time is a very difficult proposition. It just doesn’t happen as often as anyone would like so you do the very best you can withwhat you have. There are only 6-7 very great QB’s in this league everybody else is making due with their guy. Only so many great WR’s so many great anything so you have to win with hwat you have.

    Maybe just maybe that’s all there is……

  • Harvey Williams > MsFelldown

  • priesttj

    Some people just like to come in here and whine and cry, once in a while come with a solution…..uhoh!! tissue crybaby!!

  • priesttj

    The reason I like big backs is beacsue they make other people fall down. smaller backs have to be rally great like Marcus Allen, Charlie Garner. We have had some great big backs Bo Jackson, Hewrit Dixon, Van Eeghan and others.

    DMC is not a small back by any stretch he just plays like one.

  • fat kidd

    Chargers’ pharmacy surrenders its license
    Posted by Mike Florio on July 16, 2010 6:57 PM ET
    The plot thickens in San Diego.

    Amid confirmation that the Chargers’ team doctor issued 108 prescriptions to a person of the same name (and, as it turns out, the same organic and genetic composition), the pharmacy that filled the prescriptions has handed over its license to dispense federally controlled substances.

    Brent Schrotenboer of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that RSF Pharmaceuticals has relinquished its ability to “obtain, distribute, possess, or manufacture controlled substances.”

    RSF Pharmaceuticals reportedly has provided medications to multiple professional teams and college programs.

    NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told Schrotenboer that other NFL teams have done business with RSF. “Probably half the teams or more don’t use them,” Aiello said. “There’s no relationship our office has with the company.”

    Of course, this means that as many as half of the NFL’s teams possibly use RSF. Or, more accurately, used RSF.

    These developments provide a better understanding as to the ability of some (or many) teams to have on hand in the facility a proverbial cookie jar full of prescription medications. To make it happen, the teams need doctors who are willing to, for example, write a bunch of prescriptions to themselves and pharmacies that are willing to, for example, honor the prescriptions.

    It’s unclear whether the Chargers or any other team or any specific individuals face responsibility for the acquisition of controlled substances without a valid prescription. If, however, former Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell is expected to stand charges of possession in his home of codeine-laced cough syrup without a prescription, it seems that folks who provide and/or take drugs like Vicodin and other potent narcotics without first obtaining a valid prescription would, in theory, face liability, too.

    Moving forward, we suspect that more teams will ditch the drug lockers and arrange for each player to obtain a valid prescription and for a local pharmacy to deliver individually-labeled pill containers as needed, as some Internet hack strongly suggested back in May.

  • priesttj

    Fat Kid

    this stuff has been going on for years, with team doctors who either have ethics or have ethics guided by a paycheck. Why do you think entertainers can get whatever they want whenever they want. That will never change as long as this country is dealing drugs earthwide. Drugs are a part of life those who chose to and have the rsources will always be able to get them in bushels….period

  • fat kidd

    Who will lead the Raiders in touchdowns?

    View Poll Results: ??
    Darrius Heyward-Bey 0 0%
    Louis Murphy 1 5.26%
    Zach Miller 9 47.37%
    Darren McFadden 1 5.26%
    Michael Bush 8 42.11%
    Chaz Schilens 0 0%

  • Jerry, Super Mario references when discussing someone named Mario was old 20 years ago.

  • fat kidd

    The next biggest question is who to cut at the WR spot. Most teams keep a 6 man depth chart but the Raiders a known to keep up to seven. Right now we have 12 WRs…

    Damola Adenji
    Shaun Bodiford
    Yamon Figurs
    Jacoby Ford
    Darrius Heyward-Bey
    Johnnie Lee Higgins
    Jonathan Holland
    Paul Hubbard
    Chaz Schilens
    Nick Miller
    Todd Watkins &
    Louis Murphy

  • fat kidd

    Bill ‘Spaceman’ Lee Isn’t Shedding Any Tears For George Steinbrenner
    7/16/2010 12:50 PM ET By Josh Alper
    Josh Alper
    MLB Blogger
    The death of George Steinbrenner this week elicited a lot of response from the country. A good deal of it skewed a bit more positive than you might expect for a man who was disliked by a good chunk of the American public. The Red Sox even had a moment of silence in his memory on Thursday night. One person who isn’t willing to whitewash things is former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee.
    Lee, known as “Spaceman” for his habit of making outrageous comments and his love of marijuana, spoke to WMUR-TV in New Hampshire after the death of the Yankee owner.
    “As far as Steinbrenner’s passing? Good,” Lee said. “Trust me, if hell freezes over, he’ll be skating. … He may have been good for the Yankees organization, but he was definitely a thorn in my side. … He said I was an incompetent and I was bad for the game of baseball. Well, I’m not a convicted felon like George Steinbrenner, and he’ll take that to his grave. … I have no sadness. I’m Irish, I’m Catholic, and when you’re gone, you’re gone.”
    There’s some incongruity there between the “when you’re gone, you’re gone” and the comments about hell, but Lee’s feelings about Steinbrenner couldn’t be much clearer. The battles between the Sox and Yankees were heated during the late-1970s heyday of Lee’s career and, obviously, the wounds haven’t completely healed.
    Simply dying isn’t enough to absolve a man of who he was when he was alive. It’s more than fair to point out Steinbrenner’s many foilbles; it’s probably a requirement for anyone trying to sum up his life in an obituary. Tell the good, tell the bad and paint the picture of the man in full. Far too often, death is used as a way to cover up the sins of the departed and only tell half the story.
    That said, it’s important to remember that he was still a man with a family that loved him and cared about him. Celebrating his death, as Lee did during this interview, is in extremely poor taste.

  • JB


    # fat kidd Says:
    July 16th, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    The next biggest question is who to cut at the WR spot. Most teams keep a 6 man depth chart but the Raiders are known to keep up to seven. Right now we have 12 WRs…
    Here’s my guess:

    Damola Adenji – Cut
    Shaun Bodiford – Cut
    Yamon Figurs – Roster
    Jacoby Ford – Roster
    Darrius Heyward-Bey – Roster
    Johnnie Lee Higgins – Roster
    Jonathan Holland – Cut
    Paul Hubbard – Cut
    Chaz Schilens – Roster
    Nick Miller – Roster
    Todd Watkins – Cut
    Louis Murphy – Roster

  • JB

    After some additional thought, here’s my REVISED guess:

    • Damola Adenji – Roster
    • Shaun Bodiford – Cut
    • Yamon Figurs – Cut
    • Jacoby Ford – Roster
    • Darrius Heyward-Bey – Roster
    • Johnnie Lee Higgins – Cut –
    still shell shocked
    • Jonathan Holland – Cut
    • Paul Hubbard – Roster
    • Chaz Schilens – Roster
    • Nick Miller – Roster
    • Todd Watkins – Cut
    • Louis Murphy – Roster

  • priesttj

    Fat Kidd

    couldn’t agree more with the selections.

  • fat kidd

    It looks as if Cable has Davis’s ear.

    Will Davis really let his coaches coach in 2010?

  • fat kidd

    Speed. It’s all about the speed. Al Davis is obsessed with speed,Jacoby Ford and Heyward-Bey has it. So Al took Heyward-Bey,Ford (Al wants another Cliff Branch or Willie Gault.)

  • priesttj

    On second thought I’d keep Todd Watkins over Adenji. Adenji is a practice squad candidate.

  • JB

    Al Davis wants to win, badly. He now has a defensive line-up that will allow Marshall to run the defense he likes (4 man rush with M-M coverage) for the most part. I believe Marshall will be allowed to mix it up a bit if that’s what he wants to do. On the offense, I believe AD will allow Hue Jackson to do his thing.JaBustus is now gone and Davis no longer has a special interest in who plays QB. I’m sure Jackson will have full control as long as we move the ball. Jackson seems to have a very strong personality. I don’t see him as the type to become submissive.

  • priesttj

    Mr Davis days of coaching days have long been over his phylosophies are intact. He likes what he likes. If you win you get what you want if you lose you do what he likes. All you have to do is watch the shotgun and Wr’s running slants to know that the coaches coach. Becaus he hates both. People mistake him not liking the blitz he’s fine with it as long as w have the personnel to do it. If you rely on the blitz he doesn’t like that. Ted Hendricks was great at it and he had a green light to do so when ever he felt the need. These guy’s lately suck at it. If they show they’re very good at it you’ll see a lot of it. If they aren’t effective early he’ll stop it. He’s always been that way you have to prove you can win with it.

  • priesttj

    Marshall won over Big Al last year shutting down some good tams but we have to have a good start it’s imperative.

  • Glutten for Punishment

    Got my McClain jersey today! i make it look GOOD….LOL

  • priesttj

    His will be the hottest seller but I’ll go MBush.

  • fat kidd

    NFL Notebook, July 16: Sam Bradford Close to Securing Massive Contract
    7/16/2010 4:15 PM ET By FanHouse Staff

    Here’s what’s happening around the National Football League on Friday, July 16, 2010:

    • Sam Bradford’s camp and the St. Louis Rams have kicked their contract negotiations into a higher gear lately, with both sides eager to get something in place prior to training camp.

    One of the sticking points — and perhaps the reason the Rams were reportedly open to dealing the No. 1 pick prior to the draft — is the amount of guaranteed money Bradford will receive. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that number is in the neighborhood of $50 million. Compare that to the $41.5 million guaranteed that the Lions gave Matthew Stafford in 2009 and it’s evidence that rookie salaries continue to rise.

  • JB

    I’d really like to see the league change the compensation for rookies to something that makes sense. Pay a set salary based on the round drafted in including a rookie FA level. Include automatic escalators for a three year period. After that, they become a restricted FA for 2 more years. Then, they become a real full blown veteran FA ready for a big payday. This approach would allow the owners to better reward producing FA’s based on actual performance. I think this would solve the rookie holdout problem and incent players to perform at an optimum level in order to get a big payday.

  • Violent Hands

    Then came this: “The list of wide receivers should make any pundit or so-called expert think twice before putting any negativity on Heyward-Bey.”

    So the media has been put on notice. And so has Heyward-Bey.

  • Violent Hands

    “There are definitely going to be some packages for us that are going to put us in more 3-4 looks, but we’re a 4-3 defense all the way,” he said.

    “As far as our defense goes, we probably put in about 80 percent of it this summer. We got just about everything in there, but I’m sure knowing (defensive coordinator John) Marshall, he’s going to toss a few curveballs at us throughout camp. … As far as the blueprint for what we’re going to do and our base defense, it’s in there.”