By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 at 4:07 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News, notes, quotes and observations from locker room access and a post-practice press briefing from Raiders coach Tom Cable:
– Yamon Figurs survived a fumbled kickoff return against San Francisco and a misplayed punt against Seattle in the preseason finale and will return both punts and kickoffs in the opener against the Titans.
Cable, when asked why Figurs got the nod, said, “Probably just the explosiveness. He touches it, and you got a chance for something big every time. That’s a dimension, as we talked about at the end of last season, all through the spring, OTAs, through camp, was developing a return game. We have a number of good returners here. I just think right now, he’s the guy we’ll go with.’’
As for Figurs’ ball security issues, Cable said, “I just think the one, against Seattle, was more kind of misplaying the ball more than anything else. And I think some of that is first time, him being in our stadium and being able to handle it, didn’t get the opportunity the week before against San Francisco.
“He was returning kickoffs. So, not too concerned about it. We kind of put him in that situation here this week and feel good about it.”
Figurs averaged 23.5 yards on kick returns (six returns, 141 yards, long of 34) and 3.3 yards on punt returns (eight returns, one fair catch, 26 yards, long of 16 yards).
– Trevor Scott is not only back at defensive end, but as a starter on the right side.
Scott moved to weak side linebacker for the final six games of the 2009 season, played there all through organized team activities and training camp. He’s listed as a linebacker in the media guide.
Then within the last two weeks, Scott became an end with Quentin Groves starting at weak side linebacker.
Cable warned that in a rotation system, it didn’t necessarily mean Matt Shaughnessy was being demoted.
“It’s just getting the best 11 players on the field. That’s really what it comes down to,’’ Cable said. “And not that Matt Shaughnessy’s not, because he’s a dynamite player. This just gives us more quality depth to have on the field at all times.”
– Newly signed defensive tackle Jay Alford not only gives the Raiders additional depth at tackle, but will also play some end as well.
Both Alford and Richard Seymour are listed among the five defensive tackles on the roster, but both can play outside. Rookie left end Lamarr Houston can also play inside, meaning the Raiders have several different options and combinations.
(Tommy Kelly started his career as an end but hasn’t played there in the last two years).
Cable said it was possible Alford could play Sunday against the Titans.
`He certainly showed today he has some quickness, some pass rush ability,’’ Cable said. “It gives us some pass rush ability, it gives us another big body in there. A big guy that can be multiple and play both tackle and end.’’
Alford said the Giants cut him Saturday, the Raiders called Sunday, and he was in Alameda Monday.
“I guess they really couldn’t find a spot for me,’’ Alford said of the Giants. “They said I’m a pass-rushing d-tackle and they kind of wanted a run-stopping d-tackle.’’
Alford was happy to be reunited with defensive line coach Mike Waufle, because his style is “attack and cause havoc in the backfield. That’s my place, so I like it.’’
In Super Bowl XXLII, Alford’s sack of Tom Brady with 19 seconds to go helped put away a 17-14 win against the previously unbeaten Patriots.
“That was the first team I had been with,’’ Alford said. I still love the Giants. They still have a special place in my heart. At the same time, that’s how the game is played.’’
Alford said he’s 100 percent healthy after missing last season following a partially torn ACL and surgery.
An added Alford bonus _ he was the long-snapper for the Giants in 2007. The Raiders now have a Pro Bowl long-snapper and a Super Bowl champion long-snapper.
– The Raiders will apparently stick to the bare minimum in terms of injury disclosure this season.
With league disclosure mandated today, Oakland reported linebacker Travis Goethel (lower back), Walter McFadden (hamstring) and wide receiver Chaz Schilens (knee) did not participate in practice.
It was the first time the club had confirmed the what parts of the body had been injured for Goethel and McFadden.
Running back Michael Bush (fractured thumb), defensive tackle and Desmond Bryant (elbow) were limited at practice
Cable would not speculate on the likelihood of who would play. The NFL says teams must specify a player as either probable, questionable, doubtful or out on Friday.
Asked if he could expand on Goethel’s injury, Cable said, “Actually, I can’t really expand on it.’’
– Cable did keep alive the hope Bush could play less than four weeks after thumb surgery.
“I think there’s a real chance,’’ Cable said about a question from the Tennessee media about Bush not playing. “I was kind of shocked to hear that today, someone said he was out. He did quite a bit today. We’ll see what he feels like tomorrow.’’
– Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell, in a thoroughly veteran performance, talked for 10 minutes without really saying much of anything.
Campbell did promise an elevated energy level due to the presence of offensive coordinator Hue Jackson.
“He’s always running around, jumping around and I’m like, ‘What are you taking before practice?,’ ‘’ Campbell said. “He always has energy. There’s never a dull moment on our practice field so he brings a lot of excitement to our offense and a lot of energy so that’s the same way we have to play.’’
– The departure of tackle Erik Pears was a minor surprise in that Pears had two distinct roles. He was the backup right tackle to Langston Walker and an extra tight end in short-yardage and goal line situations.
Pears struggled as a Raiders lineman, but had some good moments as an extra tight end _ most notably in a win in Denver last season.
With Pears out, Khalif Barnes becomes the primary backup on both sides. Barnes has also played some tight end in power formations, as has Daniel Loper, Cable said.
– How tight-lipped is rookie starting center Jared Veldheer?
He didn’t want to say how much he had actually played center in college or high school for fear of giving the Titans too much information.
– The NFL Network’s Top 100 series saw its first two Raiders make the list Tuesday night. The series began counting down from 100 to 91, with the second episode starting at 90 and going to 81.
In episode 2, Marcus Allen checked in at No. 85 and Ted Hendricks at No. 82.
Matt Millen on Marcus Allen: “Bo Jackson was phenomenally big and phenomenally fast, but Marcus Allen was head and shoulders a better football player.’’
– Now what?
ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that noted rumor-mongerer and teller of untruths, has picked the Raiders to beat the Titans in Week 1. Former Raider Eric Allen also picked Oakland.
Monte Poole, another whose Raider reviews have put him in the permanent organizational penalty box, said in a column in today’s Bay Area News Group papers Oakland could win 10 games.