Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly seemed amused when asked about the Raiders’ status as the No. 2 (tied) ranked defense in the NFL.
The same stat caught the attention of Houston coach Gary Kubiak, who made mention of it more than once while talking with Bay Area reporters.
Through three games, Oakland is giving up 260.7 yards per game _ tied with Green Bay for second place behind Baltimore (244.3).
“We’ve got to play more attention to detail, a little more focus on every snap,” Kelly said. “We’re really good, stop, stop, stop _ then they pop one. That’s frustrating.”
Yet through three games, anyway, yardage is undeniably down.
“It’s down, but what’s the end result?,” Kelly said. “You’re still walking off that field with your head between your legs, so hurt because you lost. I mean, we’re getting better, y’all can see that. But we’ve got a long way to go before we’re a No. 1 defense.”
If the Raiders can actually maintain their defensive ranking after facing Houston, Kelly will be more impressed. The Texans are fourth in the NFL in total offense (407.0 yards per game) _ one of only teams averaging the same figure the Raiders have attained exactly once in the last 77 games.
The Texans have one of the NFL’s top passers in Matt Schaub, and a sudden star in running back Arian Foster, who emerged from practice squad obscurity and leads the league with 406 yards rushing.
“I think, if we slow these boys down it’ll be a little more indication of how we is as a defense,” Kelly said. “This is a big opportunity. You say you’re the No. 2, No. 3 defense in the league, let’s see it on Sunday.
Mario knows Mario
Mario Henderson is struggling to hold on to his starting job at left tackle, splitting time with rookie Jared Veldheer.
Not exactly the best time to face with Mario Williams, the No. 1 pick of the 2006 draft and one of the premiere players at his position against both the run and pass.
Or maybe it’s the perfect time.
Henderson got his first NFL start in Week 16 against Williams, replacing Kwame Harris at left tackle. He effectively controlled Williams throughout the game, and it remains one of Henderson’s best games as a starting lineman.
“Normally guys his size don’t have that much speed and quickness, and that’s the thing that makes him different from almost every guy in the league is the fact that most guys that are tall like him are kind of slow, but he’s extremely quick and has very long arms,” Henderson said. “He knows how to use all three, size speed and quickness.”
Having some success in the bank can’t hurt.
“I just go back and watch film and kind of know how to play him a little bit,” Henderson said. That’s a good thing. I can use that.”
Seabass: Bad hold
Sebastian Janikowski headed directly to his locker and waited for a group of reporters to finish talking to Zach Miller, figuring he’d be better off answering quesitons about one of the low points of his professional career than avoiding it.
As they started to arrive, Janikowski said, looked at Shane Lechler and said, “Bad hold!,” an indication he hasn’t lost his sense of humor.
Lechler’s hold on the 32-yard field goal attempt, as well as on Janikowski’s other three misses, was perfect.
“I was disappointed, I mean shocked, you know? It happens,” Janikowski said. “I can’t change anything but, going into warm-ups, like I was talking to Shane, I was 20-for-20, with 63-yarders both way. And, you go in the game you feel so good about it, ah, I can make any kick. And this thing happens. So, you’ve just gotta move on. Next page.”
Said Janikowski of the support he received from coach Tom Cable as well as his teammates: “It’s nice to know I’ve got guys behind me. I’ve got to apologize to everybody _ Al Davis, the players, the fans. So, you know, come home this weekend, and kick a winner.”
Recalling a game in 2001 when he missed three three field goal attempts and the Raiders lost 13-10, Janikowski mused, “Every 10 years, something happens.”
As warmups and drills concluded, there was no sign of right guard Robert Gallery (hamstring), defensive tackle Richard Seymour (hamstring) and wide receiver Chaz Schilens knee.
Those on the field but not practicing included wide receiver Louis Murphy and wide receiver and safety Hiram Eugene (hamstring). Murphy left the Arizona game briefly after catching a 70-yard pass, later returned, and there was no mention of injury at the time.
Defensive tackle John Henderson was suited up and on the field, although he was spending some time with a trainer who was working on his injured foot. Chris Johnson, inactive against Arizona with an ankle injury, was suited up and going through drills.
There appears to be a new addition to the practice squad, a linebacker wearing No. 51. The Raiders have not yet released a name to go with the number. Not present wsa Quentin Scott, No. 56, signed to the practice squad last week.