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Getting beyond the rookie `wall’

News, notes and observations Thursday as the Raiders prepare to face the Chiefs:

— It’s the midway point of the season, yet the body clocks of middle linebacker Rolando McClain and defensive end Lamarr Houston are in theory near expiration.

They’ve been through training camp, a four-game preseason and eight regular-season games. At Alabama or Texas, the next step is determing where they stand in the BCS.

In the NFL, they’re only halfway home.

McClain and Houston were instant starters. Jared Veldheer, a third-round pick, will start his third straight game at left tackle. Wide receiver Jacoby Ford is in the rotation at wide receiver.

Travis Goehtel, a sixth-round pick, will play on special teams and back up at weak side linebacker in his debut after back surgery. Seventh-rounder Jeremy Ware will serve as nickel back if Nnamdi Asomugha misses the game as expected with an ankle injury.

Seventh-round pick Stevie Brown has emerged from the practice squad as a special teams player and reserve safety.

About the only two players who haven’t made an impact are Bruce Campbell, a guard taken in the fourth round who is being brought along at a more deliberate pace, and Walter McFadden, corner taken in the fifth-round who looked terrific early in training camp only to be derailed by hamstring issues.

The Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday’s opponent at the Coliseum, are getting similar production out of their rookie class.

Cable said the whole midseason “wall’’ was addressed with the rookie class last week.

“At this point in their physical season, they’re used to talking about bowl games and where we’re going to be on New Year’s Eve and all those kinds of things. We’re just at the halfway point,’’ Cable said. “So we talk a lot to them about how to take care of your body. It’s important that when you get rest you still have to rehab, you still have to get in there and ice and stim and get in the pools and do all the things that really restore your body, and they’ll learn to do that.

“And this class I think is a great example. They bought into it, and they’re doing those things.”

Once he reaches the field, Houston feels his rookie days are over.

“We’re halfway done with the season so being a rookie is done with playing-wise,’’ Houston said. “But in the locker room I guess I’m still a rookie.’’

Houston, almost invisible in a few games after getting a sack in the opener, has picked up his play of late.

“Every game you get to play you learn something different,’’ Houston said. “I’ve been playing about eight games. It’s fun getting into rhythm and pick up things and be able to understand what’s going on out there. It makes it a lot easier once you get your feet wet.’’

— Goethel, who predominantly played as a middle linebacker during the Napa portion of training camp, will be a backup at weak side linebacker against Kansas City.

That offers at least some validation to something I heard late in camp _ that the coaches liked Goethel so much they were going to make him a rookie starter at weak side linebacker along with McClain and middle linebacker and Houston at defensive end.

The plan was scuttled when Goethel’s back began acting up. Disk surgery kept him out for the first eight games of the season.

Cable said Thomas Howard, who missed the last four games with a knee injury, would play on special teams and be in a reserve role. His time on the field on defense is likely to be limited given Mike Mitchell’s ascension during Howard’s absence.

— Those who were limited at practice were WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (shoulder), center Samson Satele (knee), Gradkowski and S Hiram Eugene (hamstring). Those who did not practice were WR Louis Murphy (bruised lung), WR Chaz Schilens (knee), TE Zach Miller (arch), DT John Henderson (stress fracture) and Asomugha (ankle).

At some point in the recent past, Schilens surgery, originally described as minor and with a six week recovery time, developed into something more substantial.

Pressed about the time Schilens has missed, Cable said, “I think the procedure that was done was not something real minor or anything like that. It was fairly extensive, so it takes time.’’

— Cable said Asomugha is “much better’’ and has put some weight on his sprained ankle, although he conceded the cornerback hasn’t done any running.

Cable was tight-lipped about Miller as well. When asked if he expected Miller to play, Cable said, “Yes. But you know, it’s questionable, but yes.’’

Has Miller improved since Wednesday?

“Much,’’ said Cable.

-— Bruce Gradkowski isn’t starting, Cable said, because “he’s got to be able to do everything we need him to do and he’s improving, getting better, all that, but still, to say he’d be 100 percent, it wouldn’t be fair

— Punter Shane Lechler is enjoying the feeling of an important game against a division rival in November.

“It’s fun to be involved in a week where a game means so much,’’ Lechler said. “ It’s been a long time since we’ve done that. Anytime you got to play a team twice in one season, when you play them the first time it’s always important because it’s probably going to reflect on how you’re going to perform against them the second time.”

Lechler holds no hard feelings toward fans who have stayed away.

“It’s like you want to (tell) them, it’s `it’s OK to believe in us this year,’ ‘’ They’re still skeptical about us. And that’s fine. I understand the price of these tickets and stuff like that, but it’s good to have them showing up now.

“This game means a lot to us. We want to go to the playoffs. We want to be good. We want to change everybody’s perspective of us. We want to be No. 1 in the AFC West. We want a lot of things, but you can only go out and get so much, You got to win each Sunday, especially when you got an in-division game. We’re going to have to play our best.”

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • RaiderRockstar

    Jhill!

    hey playa, keep doin your thang

  • http://Www.bullycains.com r8dercain

    Raiders 31
    chiefs 20

  • M Lonetree

    the only way the fyKCs score 20 is if the Oaktowners have special team failures or cough up the ball.

    look for the fyKCs to be in single digits and licking their wounds with their heads down when exiting the Coliseum.

  • RaiderRockstar

    the only way the fyKCs score 20 is if the Oaktowners have special team failures or cough up the ball

    ***

    that would be sweet if we held them under 20!

    my original prediction was Oakland 31 KC 28

  • LA to TheBay

    Sorry, guys I don’t share some of the enthusiasm you do. Not saying we’re going to lose, cause I think we will gut this one out, but I am rather worried about the KC coaching staff.

    They have those boys prepared.

    The good news is that it appears ours are finally starting to do the same.

    We got home field in a very even matchup, which gives us the edge.

    But I still think it’s going to be a good ol fashioned AFC West Slugfest.

  • bcz24

    I like hearing this type of schit. Raiders are finally, no longer the laughingstock of the league.
    ****
    except they predict us to choke.

  • DMAC

    cz24 Says:
    November 5th, 2010 at 9:59 am

    I like hearing this type of schit. Raiders are finally, no longer the laughingstock of the league.
    ****
    except they predict us to choke.
    ==========
    I think that’s actually kind of good. Gets the players motivated.

  • LA to TheBay

    J Hill, the last time I – in my heart of hearts – was not worried about the game was SF.

    As long as the Raiders don’t play like they’re not worried, I think we’ll be OK.

    Again, the keys to the game will be:

    -Getting started early
    -Putting up points
    -Executing in the Red Zone (Get the ball to Zach, please)
    -Staying disciplined on D
    -Forcing them to pass and go out and destroy Matt Cassell

  • PurpleDrank81

    This team need’s to come out with more Fire than they’ve had all year.

  • bcz24

    We need to play EXACTLY like we have in the last 2 weeks. A bully. Both sides of the ball. Just like Hue said we would be.

    A bully.

  • DMAC

    # PurpleDrank81 Says:
    November 5th, 2010 at 10:04 am

    This team need’s to come out with more Fire than they’ve had all year.
    =============
    I know “Rock Head” Cartwright will be pumped!

  • http://Www.bullycains.com r8dercain

    Boone on either side of each team(take away the coaches) has played in a game of this magnitude in a while but big Richard Seymour we have that advantage there an plus we at home an sold out. Big rich Seymour will have our boys prepared up front. An mc clain has turned up his game. Like I said

    Raiders 31
    chiefs 20

    I hope the chefs don’t score sh$$$t tho

  • DKnight007

    Raider defense goals: Contain Thomas Jones and Jamal Charles on screens and contain McCluster in the slot. Maintain gap control and do not overpursue when KC runs the football, they like doing counters and misdirection also.

    Put consistent pressure on Cassell from all angles and look for him to throw to his 1st or 2nd read. He has the tendency to lock in to his 1st read. Get some INTS!

    Raider offense goals: Do what they have been doing. Mix up the play calls, run reverses, run fake reverses, counters and traps. Pund the rock with DMC, Bush in the running game and use them and Reece in the passing game. Run reverses with Ford and DHB, bubble screens and then run play action roll outs. I would also like to see some sneak plays and screens for Cartwright or Bennett out of the backfield and catch the Queef defense off guard.

    Protect the football.

    Special Teams goals: Block well and run some fake reverses and run a reverse to catch them KC special teams off guard.

  • DMAC

    Dknight,
    Looks like McCluster won’t play this weekend.

  • DKnight007

    DMAC Says:
    November 5th, 2010 at 10:09 am
    Dknight,
    Looks like McCluster won’t play this weekend.

    ^^^^^^^^
    Nice!

    I think CJ or Routt should be able to hang with Bowe. I would put CJ on him. Don’t trust Routt against him.

  • YoungAmerican

    No McCluster is a good thing for the Raiders. He hasn’t made a massive impact so far this season, but he’s the kind of player that opens up the playbook for his team. He’s also the kind of player the Raiders have had problems containing in the past.

  • DKnight007

    Raiders defense needs to make sure to wrap up and gang tackle!

  • YoungAmerican

    I’m not too worried about Bowe as long as the Raiders defense can contain the run. But if they can’t stop the running game, it’s going to open up the passing game.

  • Jimbo

    The Indianapolis Star reports that Colts WR Anthony Gonzalez injured the PCL in his knee during a Week 8 win over Houston and could miss the rest of the season.

    ***************

    what is it with these OSU Suckeyes and their knees???…Gonzalez, Wells…

  • DMAC

    Dexter McCluster (ankle) was limited again in Thursday’s practice.
    It’s not looking good for his chances of suiting up this weekend. Although the Chiefs have yet to officially term it as such, it’s suspected that McCluster has a high ankle sprain, which can sometimes sideline players for at least a month.
    Source: Kent Babb on Twitter

  • inonewordraider

    We’ve been good all year stopping the run, but then we allow a big run, we have to stop it for 4 quarters!!! That speaks to our weak depth at DL with Henerson sidelined

  • DMAC

    When we’re in the red zone, we need to capitalize and score TD’s, not fg’s!!!!!!!

  • DKnight007

    Got hooked up with some nice seats, and will be pre partying with the hook up at the West Side.

  • DMAC

    DKinght,
    I need the hook-up too!
    Wassup?

  • Jimbo

    bcz24 Says:
    November 5th, 2010 at 10:06 am
    We need to play EXACTLY like we have in the last 2 weeks. A bully. Both sides of the ball. Just like Hue said we would be.

    A bully.

    ^^^^^^^

    Bout damn time!

    That’s what the Raiders were when I was growing up. Black colors, huge dudes that INTIMIDATED the weenies on the other side of the field. We’d win games before they were played.

    Be the Bully! That would be a nice new call to arms for the Raiders.

  • RaidingTexas

    Heard on the radio as guys were going over week 8 game picks: Raiders-Chiefs? Raiders. Marcel Reece . . . watch this fullback. He is a matchup nightmare for teams, the way they are using him now. Fast out of the backfield. Screens. Quick slants. He catches everything thrown at him, just like he did at Washington. This kid can play. Also keep an eye on Tyvon Branch. The ball always seems to find him.

  • DKnight007

    DMAC Says:
    November 5th, 2010 at 10:21 am
    When we’re in the red zone, we need to capitalize and score TD’s, not fg’s!!!!!!!

    ^^^^^^^^
    Another HUGE key!

    Lets hope Z Miller can play effectively this weekend.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    OSU players get tender knees by kneeling to service Wolverines…thus the term Suckeyes…LOL

  • DMAC

    Question??????
    Fantasy ballers.
    Should I start Wes Walker or Mario Manningham?

  • DMAC

    Or Lee Evans?

  • Ghost to the Post

    The real mismatch is going to be with Marcel Reese this weekend. If you don’t have him in fantasy I say get him. Good morning Nation. Go Raiders.

  • Jimbo

    DMAC Says:
    November 5th, 2010 at 10:29 am
    Question??????
    Fantasy ballers.
    Should I start Wes Walker or Mario Manningham?

    ^^^^^^

    Welker

  • Jimbo

    I’d start Evans on 2nd thought.

  • DMAC

    Thanx, for the feedback.

  • Jimbo

    Ghost to the Post Says:
    November 5th, 2010 at 10:30 am
    The real mismatch is going to be with Marcel Reese this weekend. If you don’t have him in fantasy I say get him. Good morning Nation. Go Raiders.

    *******

    The problem is he is a fullback and it would kick off a real good RB off my squad. If he was considered a TE, then he’d be gold.

  • Ghost to the Post

    I use him in my flex league. And last week I used him because Ahmad Bradshaw was on a bye.

  • http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXj7I1RzLSE&feature=related exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    I can just see the cameras focus on Campbell doing his McNabb salute just before the Raiderers 1st series.

  • Ghost to the Post

    I bet ole Shanny rat wishes he hadn’t traded JC away now. He has a mess on his hands.

  • http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXj7I1RzLSE&feature=related exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    JC has never been in a game of this importance. Need to get him settled down right out of the gate.

  • Jimbo

    McNabb is washed up. Shanarat thought he was being cute dishing us his garbage. He stole McNabb away from us and smirked at us the whole time.

    Whose the sucker, Shanny?

  • http://http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YXj7I1RzLSE&feature=related exlaraiderseasonticketholder

    Jake Plummer really dissed on Shanarat. If you went 10 for 14, he focused on the 4 misses, never let up. Always looking for the next Elway.

  • bcz24

    DMAC… Welker is no longer a viable fantasy option, I would say Manningham has the best matchup against a weak Seattle secondary. Welker has averaged only 3 catches a week since Moss left. Evans is an intriquing option against Chicago… I think Buffalo gets off the schneid this week against the floundering bears.

  • Ghost to the Post

    And if McNabb isn’t washed up he sure doesn’t have much support from his coach. Which will only poison his leadership in the locker room. How do you bench your starter at clutch time and then say he is your guy and that you trust him.. You just lost the whole team.

  • bcz24

    exlaraiderseasonticketholder Says:
    November 5th, 2010 at 10:42 am
    JC has never been in a game of this importance. Need to get him settled down right out of the gate.
    ****
    This is the type of game that JC plays his finest. Last 2 weeks… must wins, JC came through, SD game, must win, JC came through. Saints last year, JC almost pulled it out in a game they had no business being in. I think this kid thrives in the spotlight.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/skew-t/166654980/ BART Bridge Bliss

    the KC-OAK games seem to mostly end up as shootouts. With these two prolific rushing attacks, I expect that to be the case Sunday.

    34-31 Raiders

    So exciting to be a part of the NFL again, rather than just a side story. It is amazing how quickly the media has jumped on the bandwagon and starting writing all these positive stories about the Raiders. Even Mel Kiper did a piece on how well Al Davis has drafted in recent years, crazy right?!?!

  • bcz24

    If I was McNabb I will drill Shanny in the face with an “errant ball”…

  • Oakland_raiders

    exlaraiderseasonticketholder Says:
    November 5th, 2010 at 10:42 am
    JC has never been in a game of this importance. Need to get him settled down right out of the gate.

    I might be wrong but I think JC went 13-0 his SR year at Auburn. There must have been a few big games in there.

  • Ghost to the Post

    Just playing against the SEC week in and Week out is enough big games, big crowds, and big pressure. It’s not a lie.

  • raidertay

    Hey Jerry,

    Looks like the game sold out. So McClain is no longer able to give you a “No Comment” for the rest of the season. Don’t let him off the hook.