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Gradkowski used to fighting back

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, July 30th, 2010 at 1:58 pm in Oakland Raiders.

Bruce Gradkowski struggled through much of Friday morning’s practice, throwing an interception to defensive tackle William Joseph and moments later having a deep throw to Phil Hubbard intercepted by Joey Thomas.

After missing minicamps and OTAs because of a torn pectoral muscle, there was going to be some rust. Truth be told, Gradkowski didn’t exactly tear it up during camp last year, where it seemed he and Charlie Frye were in a virtual dead heat to be the third quarterback until Jeff Garcia voluntarily ejected.

Where Gradkowski’s magic manifested itself last year was on Sundays, where he went from a guy who was sent packing by both St. Louis and Cleveland to the quarterback dubbed “Bruce Almighty” by announcer Greg Papa.

He came off the bench for JaMarcus Russell and gave the Raiders a chance to win against Kansas City until a pass bounced off the hands of Darrius Heyward-Bey for an interception, and directed stirring wins against Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, the latter drawing national attention.

So Gradkowski has a body of work which allows him to be both diplomatic and optimistic even though Jason Campbell has already been anointed the starting quarterback.

He understands that the torn pectoral muscle puts him a little behind, but thinks he’s built a line of credit which should serve him well.

“I feel great about last year went. I know it carries weight around here, especially with my teammates, and that’s all I care about, but you know, you’re only as good as your last game,’’ Gradkowski said.

Given his energy and ability to produce off the bench, Gradkowski has the look of the classic backup _ a label that can be a blessing or a curse.

“You could take it two ways. I feel like I would be the best backup but I also feel like I’d be the best starter,’’ Gradkowski said. “You have that confidence and whatever my role is, I know that I’m going to be ready to play.’’

A few more notes and storylines:

– Chaz Schilens didn’t practice Thursday morning and probably won’t be back on the field until Friday at the earliest.

It was pretty clear listening to coach Tom Cable and Schilens he won’t the ground running after a second foot surgery following the season.

“There’s no damage, anything like that. It’s sore,’’ Cable said. “ going to have to work with him to find out what his workload is, what he can and can’t do.

“It’s not great, but it’s something I can manage,’’ Schilens said.

Camp for Schilens will include dialing meetings from the athletic training staff to determine how much he does.

“We’re probably going to have to deal with it from here on out . . . it’s a little bit of a work in progress to find out how much he can do each day. He’ll probably be limited to a one-a-day deal and then go from there.’’

– Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and his kindred spirit, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, spent a second consecutive practice taking 10 minutes to work on technique while others were heading into the field house.

Asomugha, in 2003, was so unknown out of Cal commissioner Paul Tagliabue didn’t know how to pronounce his name when it was announced at No. 31 overall. He was labeled a classic Al Davis reach, a projection more than a player.

Fast forward to last year and Heyward-Bey, a height-weight-speed receiver whose pick drew mostly criticism.

Asomugha struggled to get his sea legs. You know the story with Heyward-Bey.

“I talked to him last year about it,’’ Asomugha said of their parallel careers. “I haven’t talked to him as much about it this year because I don’t want to keep that in his head.

“But last year, I guess at midseason, I pulled him aside and we had a long conversation about it, not getting down on himself and those sorts of things.’’

As much as Heyward-Bey shrugged off questions about being disappointed last year, Asomugha knows the criticism stung.

“It hurt him what happened last year,’’ Asomugha said. “Naturally he didn’t feel good about the things that were said. It’s not like it was a secret. He knew that he didn’t play well. That hurt him. This year it looks like he’s had a different purpose.’’

The post practice sessions are at Asomugha’s request, attempting to help school Heyward-Bey as well as get additional work himself.

– Campbell has something common with Josh McCown, Daunte Culpepper, Andrew Walter, Russell and Gradkowski.

When in doubt, throw it to No. 80.

The plan this year is to have a few more of those catches wind up in the end zone. Of Miller’s 166 career receptions in three seasons, only seven have resulted in touchdowns _ one every 23.7 catches.

“When you look at him, we have done a poor job of utilizing him in the red zone,’’ Cable said. “So, if you just start right there, see where he would impact that part of the field, that would really raise his game, to a whole new level.”

Said Miller:“You see other tight ends in the league scoring a lot of touchdowns and you get a little envious. You want to be in there celebrating the touchdowns and I believe this year, finally, will be the year it comes.’’

– No pads until Monday, but the Friday morning practice was again a far cry from last year’s “learning-intensive sessions,’’ where the Raiders rarely carried a play to completion.

“I think it’s a little bit of wanting to go a little more, a little more itchy,’’ Cable said. “We all kind of feel that way, but at the same time, we want to get everything taught in these situations in the first four days so you’ve got to hold back a little bit and have balance with it.’’

There were team and seven-on-seven sessions with legitimate competition, if not actual all-out contact. The morning session consisted of predominantly third-down work.

“This is not a walk-through,’’ tackle Langston Walker said. “They may call it that, but it’s pretty much full-go for offensive and defensive linemen.’’

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  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    “Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and his kindred spirit, wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, spent a second consecutive practice taking 10 minutes to work on technique while others were heading into the field house.”

    At least Hands of Stone is a hard worker so there is still hope!

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Garbagekowski is not a starting NFL QB…sorry…he and Tom The Buffoon Cable will eventually go the way of Justin Farglass…happy trails to all the junk!

  • priesttj

    Grads is a backup………..period any thoughts of him starting for this team is a step back, way back.

    I’m not even sold on Campbell yet but I definitely aint sold on Grads. If Campbell is not the guy w need to draft a guy and it’s that simple we cannot mess around with some wannabe fiery leader. That aint cool at all. DHB spending time with Nnamdi does two things, DHB gets his confidence and Nanmdi gets to wrk against one of the more physically gifted kids in this league. That’s why he always picks DHB at 6″2″ 220 that kid is very physical and has world class speed. A very dangerous combo.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Trade DMAC for Hands of Stone!

  • priesttj

    I’m with you on that Bo, Nnamdi knows who can and who can’t.

  • edward teach

    “sent packing by both St. Louis and Cleveland…”

    And Tampa Bay. And Oakland, if Frye and Boller keep playing well in camp.

    Sorry, but the gutsy little underdog bit just doesn’t cut it for me. Makes me think of Jeff Garcia, and I don’t want to think about Jeff Garcia.

  • http://i380.photobucket.com/albums/oo249/the408RAIDER/749px-I-420svg.png 408RAIDER

    RRRRRRAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIDDDDDDDDDDEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRSSSSSS!!!

  • aig-raiders

    so you guys want to send a guy who proved he won games for us to keep who…frye and boller? boller had so many damn chances to start in Bal and couldnt cut it.

    Give Grad a break for the few bright spots he produced for you last season. Ungrateful SOB’s you guys are.

  • aig-raiders

    I hope you Grad haters twist your ankle when you celebrate from his preseason TD. :)

  • No Mas Diamante

    A few thoughts…

    - B. campbell should be backing up, and pushing, Mario at LT.

    - Short armed Veldeheer should be moved to RG so he can push Carlile.

    -Boller and Frye are competing for the backup role, and perhaps a roster spot. Grads showed enough last year to warrant a roster spot but I’m afraid he will never be more than the third QB. I think Frye will beat out Boller.

    - Concerned about Chaz. There’s a reason we didn’t sign TO though. Cable didn’t want him.

    - “Ah, Houston, we don’t have a problem.”
    I like very much what we are doing on D. This will be our most improved unit. great blend of talent and experiance and good coaches. Biekert was a solid hire.

    Chisel it in stone…

  • aig-raiders

    I hope Houston turns out to be a mean nasty SOB like big Sey. I hope he plays dirty like Wiz. We need nastyness back.

  • jdg3

    Gradkowski is a great backup. I don’t know why anyone would want him gone. He studies hard, plays hard and is a good teammate.

  • No Mas Diamante

    Agree Jdg3. Grads has a lot of heart and I think cable likes that.

  • priesttj

    OK AIG

    Everyone let’s bow to greatness that is Gradkowski. He actually threw TD’s OMG how could we ever think less of him. The Great Gradkowski lives!!!

    Every head should bow and every knee should bend.

    until you realise JaMarcus did the same damn thing.

    What we want is a QB capable of contending for championship. Not a guy who’ll help get to 500or worse.

  • http://atm Raider O

    GarbageKowski is a backup at best!! Stop it!!!

  • aig-raiders

    Priest,

    1. I’m still waiting for your apology to me for accusing me of not knowing what caught from behind means. Do you still think Nap was never caught from behind when he had the field open in front of him.

    2. Still waiting for your apology for insulting us on our take of Jawalrus…

    3. I believe you predicted Grad couldnt carry Jawalrus’ jock strap in camp this year.

    between you and I (I promise I wont tell anyone), were you happy when Grad led the team back in Pitt last year? Were you happy when Grad threw that TD to Murphy against Cinci?

  • aig-raiders

    Sure Grad can be a backup but to hear you guys say he should be sent packing and we should keep Frye and Boller is rediculous.

  • http://atm Raider O

    Play Huff at CB, and let Branch & Mitchell play Ss!!
    Top 12 defense!

  • 24

    The Schilens experiment is getting a little tiring. Can we keep going into each season relying on a guy that may never make it to a full season? I understand the team is trying to address the position with the drafting of DHB, Murphy, JLH and Ford but if Schilens is going to constantly keep this team in question, T.O. should be looked at as a 1 year guy that can help this passing offense get acclimated. We can’t go into another season with nobody worthy of passing to. I want to see these guys develop but if they don’t, we’re screwed.

  • http://atm Raider O

    AIG,

    I don’t want him to leave (he is hard worker), but if Frye and Boller are playing better, then we have to keep them. We can’t keep 4 QBs on the roster, so someone has to go.

  • edward teach

    News flash: They all work hard. If they didn’t they wouldn’t be in the league. See: JaMarcus Russell.

    It’s a fiercely competetive profession. You stop working hard (or don’t start) and somebody takes your place.

    Gradkowski outworked JaMarcus Russell last year. So did the rest of the league. Gradkowski is still a a scrub, even though he’s a hard-working little scrub.

  • http://atm Raider O

    -Boller has a great Arm, but he is not accurate.
    -Frye can’t keep playing at a high level, and that’s why was the Browns let him go.
    -GarbageKowski is not as talented, but he is a hard worker who played OK last season. He reminds me a lot of Garcia.
    I like Boller more than the other 2, and he is a better fit for our Vertical passing game. He was also a 1st RD pick for a reason. He has talent, but the Ravens didn’t have a good offense to help him develop. He can be a great backup in our system IMHO.

  • aig-raiders

    Raider O

    I saw what Frye can do in the game for us in the regular season. Grad was much better. I dont even want to touch Boller.

  • priesttj

    Edward Teach1

    That news flash should just be a reminder but to some it is a news flash because they just don’t get it…..period

    They see that mini Farve out there fighting his guts out and think he’s Farve. There is a huge gulf between the two. One is a Rolls Royce and the other is a 320i BMW not bad but it aint the same thang if you know what I mean.

  • edward teach

    Aig,

    That’s good, because Boller probably doesn’t want you touching him, either.

    Sorry, couldn’t help it :)

  • Nnamdi21

    Raider O Says:
    July 30th, 2010 at 3:10 pm
    Play Huff at CB, and let Branch & Mitchell play Ss!!
    Top 12 defense!

    ================

    Going to see variations for sure.

    Branch played Cb at Conn…

  • priesttj

    Name one thing Grads has done that Boller has not?What makes Grads so much better than Boller?

    I’ll tell you… in 2 weeks Grads will get his chance and so will Boller and we’ll all see for ourselves.

  • edward teach

    Priesttj,

    That Rolls sure does have a good mechanic. A million miles and still rolling. Well, if he comes back, which I’m pretty sure he will.

    Just to set the record straight; I don’t think Grads is terrible. I just think that Boller is going to be a better backup because his skillset fits what we do a little better, and he’s already familiar with Hue Jackson and what he wants from his QBs. Gradkowski looked like Joe Montana to some people last year, but it was more because of the alternative than anything. Sure, the team played hard for him. The team will play hard for anyone that actually shows up and does his job. I would just prefer someone that has a bit more talent to go with the work ethic, is all.

  • DKnight007

    Grads is a gritty, tough competitor who is fiery and mobile and can keep plays alive using his feet.

    Boller….not so much.

  • mistic1

    Why are people still upset about us passing on T.O? The guy is talented but clearly on the back end of his career. He is an absolute nut case that would fit in better with the cast of JERSEY SHORE, than in our locker room. Signing this weirdo would have undone everything that cable and Davis have done this offseason in one swift stroke of the pen! We finally have character guys, and cant afford any malcontents, we just dont have enough talent or experience on this team to deal with his sort of antics. If randy moss was bad, T.O would be a disaster! I would rather have young guys that want to work hard and be a part of a team, than an old guy that isnt worth the trouble or the money you would have had to pay him.

  • priesttj

    Edward Teach

    I couldn’t agree more about Bollr and that was the premise of my question to AIG who just assumes Grads is better than Boller and I want to know based on what?

    Because I will give Boller the edge.

  • DKnight007

    Cable needs to sit Chaz down and allow to him to heal before having him practice fully everyday.

    Cable needs to have Chaz pace himself.

  • http://tada Florida Pete

    mistic1 Says:
    July 30th, 2010 at 3:51 pm
    Why are people still upset about us passing on T.O? The guy is talented but clearly on the back end of his career. He is an absolute nut case that would fit in better with the cast of JERSEY SHORE, than in our locker room. Signing this weirdo would have undone everything that cable and Davis have done this offseason in one swift stroke of the pen! We finally have character guys, and cant afford any malcontents, we just dont have enough talent or experience on this team to deal with his sort of antics. If randy moss was bad, T.O would be a disaster! I would rather have young guys that want to work hard and be a part of a team, than an old guy that isnt worth the trouble or the money you would have had to pay him.

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    good stuff… very good stuff…

  • lefty12

    Day 2 and you guys are arguing about who should be BACK-UP QB.Wouldn’t it be wise to at least wait for a practice game or 2?
    As for Dmac,I for one hope he finally stays healthy and shows something.I’d like to see Dakota get something correct concerning the Raiders and have at least 1 offensive player on the team he supports.

  • http://tada Florida Pete

    DKnight007 Says:
    July 30th, 2010 at 3:53 pm
    Cable needs to sit Chaz down and allow to him to heal before having him practice fully everyday.

    Cable needs to have Chaz pace himself.

    :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    chaz is done…

    let’s move on…

  • DirtyRaccoon

    SAN ANTONIO — Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver Dez Bryant, the team’s first-round selection, suffered a sprained right ankle near the end of practice and will undergo an MRI on Friday night to determine the severity of the injury.

    A league source told ESPN.com’s Matt Mosley that Bryant most likely suffered a high ankle sprain.

    Cowboys vice president Stephen Jones said the prized rookie will miss some practice time. Jones expressed optimism that Bryant would not be sidelined much longer than a few days.

    More on the Cowboys
    Calvin Watkins and Tim MacMahon have the Cowboys blanketed for ESPNDallas.com. Check in with their constantly updated coverage. Blog

    The Cowboys’ top three picks are injured. Second-round linebacker Sean Lee has been sidelined since Tuesday with a strained quadriceps. Fourth-round safety Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, who had shoulder surgery in March, has not been cleared to practice yet.

    The injury occurred after cornerback Orlando Scandrick broke up a pass intended for Bryant on the second-to-last play of practice. Backup quarterback Jon Kitna threw the ball slightly behind Bryant on a crossing route, and Scandrick made a good play on the ball and landed on Bryant’s leg.

    Bryant, who the Cowboys selected with the 24th overall pick after trading up three spots in the draft, stayed down on the Alamodome turf for several seconds. He tried to limp off the field, then went back down before being helped off the field by athletic trainers Jim Maurer and Britt Brown.

    “I hope he just sprained his ankle,” Scandrick said. “He should be all right.”

    Bryant starred during the first several practices of training camp, making the Cowboys hopeful he could be a major contributor for a unit that was second in the NFL in total offense last season. He has made several spectacular plays and has displayed a decent grasp of the playbook despite missing a handful of offseason workouts with a variety of physical ailments.

    “You don’t like them to miss,” Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said. “We do have an extra week [of training camp], which [Bryant] has taken advantage of, being here and learning all those things. He’s actually done real well as far as assignments are concerned.”

    Tim MacMahon covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com. ESPN.com’s Matt Mosley and Calvin Watkins of ESPNDallas.com contributed to this report.

  • http://Noknuckleheads! 909RaiderLifer

    Chaz needs Nike, Reebok, or whoever makes his glass slippers come up with a new design. Cause the ones he’s wearing now ain’t working for him..

    And, really do want yo see him succeed….

  • ENGLANDRAIDER

    Asomugha was labelled “..a classic Al Davis reach..” in 2003.

    You go Al!

  • Just Fire Baby

    I’m a die-hard Cal Bear fan and I hated Boller when he was there.

    I think he went 0-11 one year, and had more INT’s than TD’s in his collegiate career, yet was a first-round pick.

    Amazed the hell out of me.

  • ENGLANDRAIDER

    WHEATLEY WON’T GO DOWN!!!

  • Just Fire Baby

    As Jerry astutely pointed out, Bruce does his best work on game-days.

    However, burying himself a hole by crapping the bed in camp does him no good, and just adds more pressure on him to REALLY do good in the preseason run he gets.

    I still have faith that between the strips, he will look as good as last year.

  • PassTheCheetos

    Gradkowski seems like one of those guys whose not all that great but does his best work improvising. Watching him play last year he really looked to be at his best on the final drive of each game. A time when those skills are the most important.

  • ENGLANDRAIDER

    It makes sense for Cable to say that Campbell is the quarterback since Gradowski was injured and, as Cable said, he hasn’nt been around here for three months.
    The last thing we need really is a quarterback competition.

    On the other hand, I’m not ruling Bruce out at all.
    He brought a lot of energy to the team last year and the offense saw it was working.
    Of course, the only thing they had to compare it to was slow moving, lazyass, Russell.
    It will be interesting to see how all that works out.

  • DKnight007

    There is no point in having Chaz practice fully if the keeps getting dinged up.

    Have him start practicing like a week before the first pre season game and then don’t play him until the 2nd preseason game.

  • PassTheCheetos

    dknight thats a good idea. When you think about it chaz is also the one receiver on our team that needs reps the least, unless you count miller. hopefully chaz can find a comfort level with campbell in the preseason.