By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, December 8th, 2010 at 2:15 pm in Oakland Raiders.
When defensive tackle John Henderson feels he needs to be slapped, he said he asks athletic trainer Scot Touchet. It’s a ritual that goes back to his days with the Jacksonville Jaguars and built up a cult following on Youtube.
A nice, hard slap in the face to get ready for the game.
Free safety Michael Huff wants the job.
“He’s going back home, so I look forward to getting the powder on my hand and slapping him,’’ Huff said. “I’m first in line.’’
“I’m already slapped right now,’’ Henderson said Wednesday. “I’m geeked.’’
In talking with the Bay Area media, Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio talked of Henderson’s time with the Jaguars fondly.
“Big John was one of my favorites,’’ Del Rio said. “Big, strong, powerful guy and a lot of fun to be around. It’s not easy to let go of guys like that. In the end we felt we did what we had to do as an organization.’’
Henderson seemed amused by Del Rio’s support.
“He can be nice all he wants,’’ Henderson said. “I’ll put it up on the bulletin board. He knows it.’’
Last June, Del Rio did an interesting thing when Henderson sat out a voluntary offseason practice. He criticized Henderson for not being tough enough.
“John’s got a shoulder that back when I played and prior to that I don’t think anyone would have missed a snap for it,’’ Del Rio said. “I think it’s a minor bruise of sorts and I think Vince Lombardi is rolling over right now.’’
Perhaps it was simply Del Rio using a a little sarcasm to make a point. Surely he couldn’t have been entirely serious, given it was a voluntary June OTA.
But Henderson was due to make $5 million in 2010 and Jacksonville had made Tyson Alualu out of Cal its first-round pick. He was cut four days after Alualu signed his contract and eventually signed with the Raiders.
“It’s going to feel good to go and whip somebody’s you know what,’’ Henderson said. “I wasn’t laughing. I hope he goes and puts it on his bulletin board, too. Because I know what he’s going to do.”
Was the Jacksonville game circled on Henderson’s calendar?
“It’s been circled. It’s been circled for months,’’ Henderson said.
Asked about the circumstances of his departure, Henderson said, “Not worried about that. I’m worried bout Sunday. They better bring it. That’s all I gotta say. Put that on their bulletin board, too.’’
Now healed from a stress fracture, Henderson said it wouldn’t have mattered if he was still injured.
“Wouldn’t matter if I had one leg. I’m still going to be there,” Henderson said.
Regarding the challenge of getting after running back Maurice Jones-Drew, Henderson said, “Powerful. Great running back. Going down Sunday. 1 o’clock, Jacksonville, Florida. Sixty-six degrees. Maybe 20. Maybe a little bit of rain. It’s going down.’’
The potentially wild swing of temperatures aside, Henderson is delighted about the possibility of the Jaguars’ and their second-ranked running game coming in his direction.
“Good. I want them to run all day. Run the power. Run the weak. Run all that to me when I’m in the game I hope he sees when I’m in the game,’’ Henderson said. “Please, run it. I’m telling him this, right now: run it.”
Linebacker Quentin Groves is also looking to prove something to Del Rio. During Wednesday’s conference call, Del Rio said Groves “never worked out where he was productive in the situations we put him in. I know he’s settled in nicely as a stack linebacker, which is really something, quite frankly, we didn’t envision him doing.
“They’ve done a nice job getting some value out of him and plugging him in, and so, happy for Quentin. He’s a good kid. Just didn’t work out here for us.”
Groves, a former first-round draft pick by the Jaguars, found that exchange amusing.
“Ah, man, some people never change,’’ Groves said while breaking up in laughter “He hasn’t seen me productive, but yet still, I can’t say it. I ain’t gonna’ say it, but it’s his opinion. He’s entitled to that. He’s a grown man, but we’ll see on Sunday.’’
Groves added: “I mean, they gave me chances, they gave me opportunities, you know, at the same time, but it’s whatever they want to say. If they want to say they didn’t put me in position, then they didn’t put me in position. I’m not gonna go tit for tat with these guys. Like I said, I strap it up on Sunday at 1:05 in Duval County and I’ll be ready. I’ll just tell you that I’ll be ready.’’
Offensive tackle Khalif Barnes, a year removed from his Jacksonville experience, could understand the frustrations of Henderson and Groves being that they played for the team last year.
“Their last game was in January so really, they were just on that team this year,’’ Barnes said. “So they might have a little more juice to them, but we were all there for awhile, we’re all going to go out there together.’’
More to come . . .