By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Saturday, July 31st, 2010 at 1:21 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Louis Murphy has a concussion after taking a knee to the head Friday. Darrius Heyward-Bey spent some time with trainer Rod Martin Saturday morning reaching to the sky to test his range of motion, and later returned to make an end zone catch, going down in a heap.
Tight end Zach Miller and strong safety Tyvon Branch both fell heavily while fighting for the ball in the end zone.
So much for the “walk-throughs” which were supposed to get the Raiders ready to start really playing hard come Monday when they go to full pads.
During his first Napa press briefing, Cable talked up the value of last year’s eight walk-through practices and how they prepared everyone to hit the ground running when the pads went on.
In reality, the only practice which resembled last year’s first eight sessions was the first one, when plays weren’t carried to completion and the focus was on footwork and choreography than taking on the person on the other side.
If the Raiders had held the last seven workouts in the offseason and called them “non-contact’’ they’d be hearing from the union and management council and forfeiting additional practice sessions.
“I think the one thing that’s really jumped out at us as a coaching staff is just how competitive guys are on this football team,’’ Cable said. “They want to win whether they’re walking through or jogging through, it doesn’t matter.
“They’re going to try and go make plays. I think you’re seeing that. That’s about what we want before we get to pads.’’
Some news, notes and quotes from Saturday’s morning session:
– Exactly when Murphy received his concussion the previous day was not clear. Cable said it happened in the afternoon practice, Murphy indicated he was kneed in the head by Nnamdi Asomugha in the morning and then had a terrible headache in the afternoon session.
Murphy practiced in the afternoon.
In any case, Murphy looked and talked like a guy who had a headache but didn’t think he’d be out long. He must go through a series of tests to be re-instated. Cable thought that would take “a day or so.’’
Murphy said he had no history of concussions at Florida.
– With Murphy and Chaz Schilens (foot) sitting it out, Heyward-Bey took center stage and didn’t disappoint, although the coaching staff had to be at least a little concerned after he and rookie corner Jeremy Ware went down hard after a 5-yard fade route from Jason Campbell.
Truth be told, Heyward-Bey may have committed an offensive pass interference penalty with a well-placed shove against Ware while airborne before making the catch at the top of his leap.
But the physicality of the play was impressive for someone who seldom attacked the ball with such gusto as a rookie.
On some short routes, Heyward-Bey would make the catch, spin up field and run his 220-pound body up the field looking more like a fullback than a sprinter.
“I watched a lot of guys do some runs after the catch, using the stiff arm, and how that propelled them up the field, so I just decided I got to put that in my game,’’ Heyward-Bey said. “I don’t mind getting hit. When it comes time to delivering a blow, that speed goes out the window.’’
Said Cable: “He and Chaz especially, they’re big receivers. I think the run after the catch, he’s learned how to do that part, so I think we’ll see some difference there.’’
– Schilens went to practice with his helmet on but did not participate, saying his left foot was still sore and that he didn’t want to make it worse.
Cable and Schilens both made reference to a shoe which would give him more support.
– Plays were made on both sides of the ball Saturday, with Chris Johnson at one point stealing a Jason Campbell pass, with Campbell coming back later with his back to the goal line and throwing a deep strike to Johnnie Lee Higgins.
– With Luke Lawton missing the first two games while on suspension for violating the NFL’s policy on performance enhancing drugs, the door is open for Marcel Reece to be the Week 1 starter at fullback.
Reece, however, is resistant to being pigeonholed at a single position. He’s been tried at wide receiver, tight end and fullback.
“I just want to be on the field and making plays,’’ Reece said. “It doesn’t matter what letters are next to my name, whether it’s `FB,’ `H-back,’ or whatever. They can call me anything I want as long as I’m on the field.’’
Reece believes versatility is the ticket to sticking around. He’s the better part of two years on the practice squad before being promoted to the 53-man roster late last season.
“Coach Jackson, coach Cable, coach Tollner and Mr. Davis all have an idea of different things they want me to do,’’ Reece said. “Whatever I can do to help this team, I want to be on the field to do it.’’
– Left tackle Mario Henderson is of the opinion that the casual fan will have a hard time noticing the difference between the strict adherence to zone blocking done since 2007 with the addition of some power blocking this year.
“We’ve changed up on a couple of blocking assignments but it’s the same principle,’’ Henderson said. “It’s been easy to adapt.’’
Henderson said power blocking might be of more help on short-yardage or at the goal line, but conceded nothing will be real clear when padded practices begin.
“It’s coming along real good, but come Monday, we’ll be able to tell when everything’s 100 miles per hour,’’ Henderson said.
– Rookie third-round pick Jared Veldheer continues to get most of his work at left tackle but is also working some at center.
Cable said Veldheer’s height isn’t an issue.
“He’s a long-bodied, short-legged guy so he’s really closer to the ground than that 6-8 looks like,’’ Cable said.
The Raiders had a pretty fair tackle-turned-center in Don Mosebar, who played the position at 6-6 until his career ended following an eye-injury sustained in a preseason scrimmage against Dallas.
– Bruce Campbell, the fourth-round pick out of Maryland who played left tackle in college, continues to work exclusively at right guard.