By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 at 2:40 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News, notes, quotes and observations from the Raiders open locker room period Wednesday:
— Jason Campbell took exception to the perception that he had been sent to the bench for reasons of performance.
Campbell was removed at halftime of the Rams game in favor of Bruce Gradkowski, then against the Steelers. After coach Tom Cable had said Campbell was still the quarterback and there was “no issue,’’ he was found himself backing up Gradkowski against Miami.
Here’s how Campbell sees it:
“The hardest part was hearing people telling me I’ve been benched three times. That’s not true,’’ Campbell said. “The Pittsburgh game I was not benched. I was taken out for reasons of being hit a lot and different ghings.
“I expected to come back last weekend and start, but the situation came up where they felt like Bruce was healthy, and coach said he’s a man of his word and that’s what he’s going to stick by.
“I wasn’t benched not to play the Miami game, just because he was sticking by what he said.’’
Campbell is the starter for the time being and there’s no reason not to apply some selective reasoning. Nothing good comes from repeating his postgame concern that if Gradkowski was healthy enough to play against Pittsburgh, why didn’t he start that game?
Or from recalling that Cable said on Nov. 15 that Campbell had “earned the right to start’’ to the starting job after three straight wins and that he was staying with the hot hand.
Campbell doesn’t seem the type to play the victim anyway, and it makes even less sense when you have the job again. He surely realizes that had had he passed for 300 yards and the Raiders had beaten the Steelers, he would have started against Miami as well _ regardless of whatever “promises’’ were made to Gradkowski.
His job will not be an easy one, with the Raiders having lost two straight games in one-sided and uninspired fashion.
“Going to the bye week, having won three in a row and four out of five … sometimes, the bye week is a chance to get healthy and finish the run the rest of the season,’’ Campbell said. “Unfortunately, this time the bye week seemed like it bit us and we lost that chemistry and we lost the things that we were doing very well. Now, we’re trying to regroup and get back to that. ‘’
– The switching of quarterbacks has taken its toll on the passing game.
“Offense is all about chemistry and continuity, and getting a feel for each other and learning each other,’’ Campbell said. “Especially when you don’t have a lot of years together. You try to make the best of it until you can get to the point where you want to be. It’s all a work in progress. You can’t get down, can’t get frustrated.’’
Wide receiver Louis Murphy concedes it’s been an adjustment.
“Sometimes it’s a little rough, because there’s two different quarterbacks,’’ Murphy said. “They have different styles, we have different hook ups with them. You know, certain passes, each one throws differently.
“But we’ve played with both of them for a fair time and it’s really no excuse. We just gotta’ keep going out and making plays when it’s our number called.’’
— With the Chargers giving up 81 yards per game on the ground and the Raiders running game having gained just 77 yards on 30 carries the last two weeks, Oakland can choose to either mix things up and be more daring with the pass, or just run that much harder.
Left guard Robert Gallery is in favor of the latter approach.
“Execution,’’ was Gallery’s answer when asked about the issues with the running game. “I think we’ve only run it 22 times (on called running plays) the last two games and that’s not who we are. We’ve got to get back to running the football and executing when we’re doing it.’’
In the first game against San Diego, Michael Bush rushed for 104 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown with Darren McFadden sidelined because of a hamstring strain. He is only one of only three backs (Arians Foster and Stephen Jackson are the others) to gain 100 yards on the Chargers this year.
— San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has drawn his share of criticism for being a little mouthy, but he’s got one fan in Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly. Kelly said he met Rivers at a college all-star game and considers him this year’s NFL Most Valuable Player.
“Who’s playing better than Phil?,’’ Kelly said .“I mean Phil is doing his thing, to me he’s the MVP because everybody around him that got hurt, and he’s still carrying his team. To me, that’s a leader right there. He done put the team on his shoulders and came up big.’’
Kelly got a chuckle out of a question referring to how the Raiders “had pretty good success’’ against Rivers the first time this season.
“He threw for 400!,’’ Kelly said. “I mean, you gotta pressure Phil, me and Big Rich and Big John, we gotta push up in his face. “Phil likes to step up in the pocket and and get them intermediate routes to (Antonio) Gates, dump it to (Darren) Sproles out of the backfield. We’ve just got to make his day very uncomfortable.’’
— Chargers tight end Antonio Gates is battling a painful plantar fascia condition which has him at less than 100 percent, but he has no intention of shutting it down.
“My goal is to deal with what I can, try to contribute if I can and if I can’t, just try to be unselfish enough to know what’s my limitations.”
– Jacoby Ford was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for November. He had a 94-yard touchdown on a kickoff return against Kansas City and a 101-yard return for a score against Miami, the latter the third longest in club history.
More to come after Cable’s post-practice press briefing . . .