We’ll know as camp goes on if John Henderson can be the kind of run-stopper he was in Jacksonville.
Having played eight years and 124 games as an interior lineman in Jacksonville, there’s at least some concern Henderson’s body is quite a bit older than its 31 years, and he acknowledges dealing with some shoulder issues.
The Jaguars thought he was finished, cutting him and then drafting Cal’s Tyson Alualu.
Raiders coach Tom Cable said he likes what he’s seen so far of Henderson without being particularly expansive on the topic.
You see this kind of signing from time to time with the Raiders . . . Lorenzo Neal . . . Jeff Garcia . . . Donovan Darius . . . Edgerton Hartwell . . . none of them made it out of training camp, and all were built up during camp by the coaching staff as sage veteran acquisitions.
So maybe it’s wise for Cable to let Henderson’s performance speak for itself and let the situation play itself out.
As for Henderson, he still talks a good game.
The Raiders would like to take Henderson and his 335 pounds and give him a rotational role in the middle of the defense, taking dead aim on the poor run defense that has plagued the team for the past seven years.
“No pressure, I love stopping the run,’’ Henderson said. “I take a lot of pride it. That’s something we’ve got to get better at.
“I live for it. You can take me out on third and long. Just put me in on short yardage and all that good stuff.’’
Henderson’s assessment of how to be a good run defense?
“Just do your job. That’s the most important thing. Each person has got to do their job, the (defensive) ends have got to contain and the inside guys got to keep leverage and push keep it clogged,’’ Henderson said. “The linebackers get them, make sure they don’t get nothing.’’
Asked point blank out much he had left, Henderson said, “I got it all, baby.’’
In Henderson, the Raiders have brought in a player who would rather stuff a running back than sack a quarterback.
“That’s weird, ain’t it?,’’ Henderson said. “Think about who talks the most. Running backs. I want to shut them up.’’
With the Raiders having moved Richard Seymour inside to tackle alongside Tommy Kelly, Henderson and second-year Desmond Bryant are competing for time. In most alignments, it will be Seymour as the three technique and Kelly over the nose, but Cable said the Raiders will be able to slide their line to create mismatches.
Henderson is the biggest player of the four, and in a best-case scenario could push Kelly to either better production or more snaps on the bench.
He acknowledges taking a beating, but still things he’s got a lot to offer.
“I’m blessed. I missed four games in eight years,’’ Henderson said. “I’m playing with pain, playing with shoulder injuries. I still love to play. I don’t love it, then I’ll quit.’’
News, notes and quotes from Friday’s lone practice:
– Quarterback Jason Campbell threw what might have been two of prettiest passes he’s thrown in camp, both in excess of 40 yards, one to Darrius Heyward-Bey and the other to Chaz Schilens.
Heyward-Bey hauled his pass in over the shouder down the left sideline over Joe Porter, who brought him all the way to the ground in the non-padded practice. Heyward-Bey held on.
Near the end of practice, Schilens made a spectacular leaping catch against Chris Johnson, who had been sticking to receivers like glue through most of camp. Schilens went down hard, was examined by trainers and reported later, “It was just a stinger. No problem. I’m good.’’
– Campbell has shown good ball skills, occasionally freezing the defense on play-fakes which buy him time and allow receivers to break free.
“When we started OTA we were not very good at that,’’ Cable said. “That has progressed, and I like where that is headed. There are some times where you’re not sure where (the ball) is at. That’s a good thing. But we’ve got to get that a little bit better.”
– Lamarr Houston, the rookie defensive end who has been a starter since his first practice and has seldom left the field, had a new role _ fullback in the goal line offense.
Houston was a prolific high school running back in Colorado Springs, Colo, before switching to defense at Texas. Listed at 6-foot-3, 305 pounds, he may be more compact than a refrigerator, but he’s at least a dishwasher.
“We might do some of that around the goal line in short yardage situations, things like that,’’ Cable said. “We did some of that in minicamp, OTA, right from the get-go with him. He’s had some history there.”
Two days earlier, after defensive end Alex Daniels took some snaps at fullback and I suggested Houston as a possibility because he’d played running back, Cable said, “Yeah, but I like how he plays on defense.’’
– Visitors to practice included Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh, offensive coordinator David Shaw, and assistant line coach Steve Wisniewski _ all with Raiders backgrounds.
Wisniewski talked to the linemen as a group following practice.
“I don’t think anyone requested him to come out here. He came out here on his own, just talked about being a pro and the things that he did to make himself better every day,’’ tackle Langston Walker said.
“Just sort of shooting it to you straight. Instead of coaches telling you, you actually get somebody who played 13 years or however long he played, went to however multiples of Pro Bowls. It’s sort of hard to be like, ‘Ah, that guy doesn’t know what he’s talking about.’ It means extra.”
– Another big day by tight end Zach Miller, who left walking stiffly with a wrap around his upper left thigh.
– Among those who didn’t practice were wide receiver Jacoby Ford (quadriceps), Jonathan Holland (ankle), fullback Luke Lawton (concussion), fullback Manase Tonga (knee), left guard Robert Gallery (ankle), defensive tackle Richard Seymour (back spasms) and quarterback Charlie Frye (wrist).
Cable said Thursday that Seymour, who has missed the last three practices, was resting. Gallery got caught in a pile and said his injury was “no big deal.’’
Holland, who was on crutches, will receive an MRI to determine the severity of his ankle sprain but was encouraged by how he felt Friday.
– Double session Saturday, with practices at 8:30 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.