By Steve Corkran
Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 at 9:31 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Kyle Boller’s magical mystery tour through Raiders training camp just keeps getting better and better.
He arrived at training camp as the No. 4 quarterback, well behind backup candidates Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye, who combined for seven starts last season, and just hopeful of getting some positive plays on film.
Now, he is making steady progress toward earning a spot on Oakland’s 53-man roster through his impressive showing in practice and the Raiders first exhibition game, as well injuries to Gradkowski and Frye.
“He’s doing well,” Raiders coach Tom Cable said after Wednesday’s practice. “The game against Dallas speaks for itself, and he’ll get another opportunity this weekend to see if he can consistently do that.”
This weekend, as in Saturday night against the Chicago Bears in the second of four exhibition games.
Jason Campbell will start the game and give way to Boller at some point in the first half.
With Frye and Gradkowski not expected to play, Boller can count on extensive playing time once again. He made the most of it against the Cowboys.
“I’ve been in this business long enough to know that you’re a play away from being in there, so I’ve always taken the approach to prepare like a starter,” Boller said. “I watch the same amount of tape. You have to be ready when you’re opportunity comes.
“It seems as the years go on, more and more guys get hurt, unfortunately. That’s why you have to take advantage when opportunities present themselves.”
Boller also benefits from the year he spent with Raiders offensive coordinator Hue Jackson when they were with the Baltimore Ravens.
“It does help because there is a confidence for Kyle, and he understands because he’s been coached by that guy,” Cable said. “He understands what he’s looking for, what he’s asking for. That helps him being able to step in and have some confidence right from the beginning.”
– Cable said fourth-string quarterback Colt Brennan “probably” will play against the Bears. Brennan didn’t get an opportunity to play against the Cowboys in Oakland’s first exhibition game.
– Cable heaped high praise upon strong-side (“Sam) linebacker Kamerion Wimbley. In the process, he disparaged the likes of Ricky Brown and Sam Williams.
“The thing I am most excited about is Dallas ran three power plays in there and, for the first time since I have been around here, our ‘Sam’ backer stood up the fullback all three times. That’s what he brings. He understands what you’re asking him to do; plays it the way you’re asking.”
The Raiders traded for Wimbley during the offseason and gave up almost nothing to the Cleveland Browns for a first-round draft pick five years ago.
– Frye on Wednesday underwent a surgical procedure to repair damage to his right (throwing) wrist. Cable said he won’t know how long Frye is out for until he rejoins the team in the next few days.
– Running back Darren McFadden (hamstring) did not practice Wednesday and won’t play against the Chicago Bears on Saturday night, Cable said.
On the bright side, McFadden is making great progress toward a return to the practice field for the first time since Aug. 7.
“He is much, much improved,” Cable said, “and he is pretty close to being ready to go but, again, I am probably going to lean toward being more protective now.”
– Wide receiver Chaz Schilens (foot), right offensive tackle Langston Walker (rest) and cornerback Chris Johnson (hamstring) also missed practice.
Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey dressed for practice and participated in some drills, though not at full capacity. He didn’t run any routes and spent most of his time watching his teammates from a distance.
Cable dismissed the suggestion that Heyward-Bey is nursing a sore hamstring. However, Heyward-Bey was sporting a sizable wrap that extended from below his left knee and somewhere up around the thigh region.
It seemed rather apparent in practice Monday that Heyward-Bey tweaked his hamstring. Yet, Cable says Heyward-Bey’s lack of activity the past two days owes more to “fatigue.”
– Jackson was at his animated best during several drills Wednesday. At one point, he ordered backup offensive lineman Khalif Barnes off the field for a false-start penalty.
“Get me another left tackle,” Jackson said. “We ain’t doing that no more. We can’t be jumping offside. You do, you’re out of there.”
– Based upon absolutely nothing, other than 15 years covering the Raiders and having a feel for how managing general partner Al Davis operates: Look for the Raiders to sign veteran wide receiver Torry Holt now that he is gone from the New England Patriots.
The Raiders need a veteran presence, several of their receivers have been in and out of the lineup because of nagging injuries and a team never can have enough proven playmakers.
Remember, Davis has a long history of signing receivers with comparable resumes to that of Holt – James Lofton, Andre Rison, Jerry Rice and Javon Walker come to mind.
– Speaking of Davis, he was at practice Wednesday for the sixth time since camp opened July 29. Hue Jackson broke from practice for about a 10-minute one-on-one with Davis.
It was unclear who was doing most of the talking. Davis spoke from a golf cart, while Jackson took a knee on the grass between the two fields.
– Rookie safety Stevie Brown intercepted yet another pass in what has become an all too common occurrence at camp.
Brown caught the carom off the hands of fullback Alex Daniels’ hands and the hands of at least two other players. Brown also intercepted a pass on the final play of the Cowboys game.
– Rookie cornerback Jeremy Ware worked with the first-team in the nickel package as part of Cable’s plan to get a look at the younger players against seasoned players.
– Linebacker Sam Williams (concussion) said he expects to be back at practice within the next few days.
“I’m still a little cloudy, but I’m getting there,” Williams said in reference to his head. He added that he hasn’t passed the required tests necessary for his return.
– Backup tight end Brandon Myers was unable to finish practice because of a pass that hit off the end of one of his fingers. Cable said Myers was sent for an X-ray. No word on the findings just yet.
– Observations from one-on-one drills between offensive and defensive linemen: rookie Jared Veldheer held off defensive end Matt Shaughnessy on back-to-back snaps.
Defensive end Trevor Scott abused right offensive tackle Erik Pears on back-to-back plays, one to the outside, one on the inside.
Defensive tackle William Joseph got the better of rookie guard Bruce Campbell on one play, but he got neutralized the second go round.
Left guard Robert Gallery stonewalled defensive tackle Richard Seymour on back-to-back plays.
Or, as Cable is fond of saying, that’s just another example of “iron sharpens iron.”
– Tight end Zach Miller was a one-man wrecking crew during passing drills, as usual.
He caught passes for touchdowns three times in a short span, one for 30 yards from Campbell, two others from Boller.
Safety Jerome Boyd, safety Stevie Brown and linebacker David Nixon were victimized, in order.
You get the sense that the only things that can prevent Miller from improving upon last season’s impressive stats are injuries and a steady diet of double teams (bracket coverage).