News, notes and quotes from Wednesday’s practice session, open locker session, conference calls with Chargers coach Norv Turner and quarterback Philip Rivers, and press briefing with coach Tom Cable:
– Cable is vague enough on the status of running back Darren McFadden that it seems likely the NFL’s No. 2 back in terms of yards and scrimmage (554) and first downs (26) won’t be available to face San Diego.
McFadden didn’t practice, and was seen working with the heavy ropes at one point during warm-ups and drills.
Cable repeated the right hamstring pull wasn’t as bad as McFadden’s left hamstring issue which cost him three weeks, but it’s doubtful the Raiders would risk making the injury worse playing their most productive player only seven days after the original injury.
“We expect the turnaround to be much shorter, so we’ll see,’’ Cable said.
With Michael Bennett also missing practice with a hamstring injury, expect a heavy dose of Michael Bush and Rock Cartwright against the Chargers. Regarding bringing in another running back, Cable said, “We’ll see.’’
– Linebacker Rolando McClain’s absence was explained as “a loss in his family’’ by Cable.
“He should be back by some time tomorrow,’’ Cable said.
—Left guard Robert Gallery was moving well with the training staff and Cable said he was “close’’ to getting on the field and wouldn’t rule him out against San Diego.
After having missed three games and having no contact during that time, be very surprised if Gallery plays. More likely, he’ll get in some serious practice time and hopefully face San Francisco.
– When cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha says San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers is “fearless’’ he says it knowing Rivers is one of the few quarterbacks to challenge him in past years.
In the past three games, Rivers completed a 46-yard pass to Vincent Jackson (with Asomugha drawing a flag) to the 7-yard line to set up a touchdown, hit Jackson with a 15-yard scoring pass in last year’s season opener, and converted a third-and-long opportunity to Chris Chambers into the sun in 2008.
“There’s a great deal of respect there,’’ Rivers told Bay Area reporters by conference call. “At the same time you have to let plays develop and go through your reads. As a quarterback you can’t completely count out that option.’’
With Jackson sitting out the season because of a contract dispute, Asomugha could find himself with a lot of responsibility on Chargers tight end, who has 24 receptions for 386 yards (16.1 average) and six touchdowns in four games.
Rivers said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Asomugha on Gates.
Said Asomugha: “In the past three or four years, there have been games where I’ve been on him a good amount of time.’’
— Cable said linebacker Trevor Scott has been moved back to weak side linebacker because of the injuries to Quentin Groves (hamstring) and Thomas Howard (knee).
Matt Shaughnessy will become the starter at right end and take a lot more snaps.
— Chargers coach Norv Turner was 0-4 against San Diego and 1-11 against the AFC West as the Raiders head coach. In San Diego, he’s 6-0 against the Raiders and 15-4 in the division.
But good luck getting him to crow about it.
“It’s hard to beat a team in your division twice a year, so, yeah, it does feel good, but this Raiders team is doing good things, they’ve got a good rhythm offensively,’’ Turner said. “We were up there last year and had to win on the last play of the game. We know it’s going to be a heck of a challenge.’’
– Linebacker Bruce Davis fits into the current Raider mold of linebacker _ players who have the pass rush skills and physicality of defensive ends who are playing off the line of scrimmage.
“Kamerion’s (Wimbley) a backer then a rusher. Trevor’s a backer then a rusher,’’ Cable said. “So you kind of have the same thing here. Quentin Groves, same thing. He’s a backer then he’s a rusher. I think that hybrid type guy just adds another one to that group.”
The question still to be answered is whether the hybrids can play in space in terms of making one-on-one tackles and covering receivers.
— Davis said he was surprised to learn some of the long-standing employees of the Raiders remember him from the days when his father Bruce played for the Raiders from 1979 to 1987.
“I was really young. I left here when I was 2 years old,’’ Davis said. “I don’t have much memory of that but I’ve run into some people here and they seem to remember me when I was a little kid. It’s a little strange for them to see me without a diaper on.’’
Having been drafted by Pittsburgh (and cut) and gone through indoctrinations with New England, Denver and San Francisco without sticking, Davis said he’s a quick study with a playbook.
Cable was offensive coordinator at UCLA when Davis was a dominant defensive end. He thinks Davis can contribute on special teams immediately.
– Right tackle Langston Walker believes the offense has responded to quarterback Bruce Gradkowski’s high-energy style.
“He’s definitely a fiery guy and I think most quarterbacks, you want them to be the strong, silent type,’’ Walker said. “But Bruce will go out there and mix it up. He doesn’t always slide, which isn’t the greatest thing, but it just shows you something. Shows you about his character.”
– Gradkowski said his right shoulder was fine and he met the media as the starting quarterback. He was listed as being “limited’’ along with tight end Zach Miller (hip), and linebacker Ricky Brown (hamstring).
Those who did not practice were Gallery (hamstring), John Henderson (stress fracture), linebacker Travis Goethel (lower back), Groves (hamstring), Howard (knee), cornerback Walter McFadden (hamstring) and cornerback Jeremy Ware (ankle).
Henderson’s stress fracture was apparently diagnosed Monday, and according to Cable, is a “three to six week’’ deal from the time of the diagnosis.
“It’s not a bad deal, but because he’s a big man, it tends to sometimes take longer, so we’ll see.’’