By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 at 2:39 pm in Oakland Raiders.
News, notes and quotes and observations as the Raiders prepare to face the Chiefs Wednesday at Arrowhead Stadium in the 2010 regular-season finale:
– It’s not going to be like 1999, when the Raiders were out of the playoff race at 7-8 but went to Kansas City knowing they could stop the Chiefs from going as well.
But the Raiders are doing their best to convince themselves that finishing with a 6-0 record in the AFC West and .500 overall would be a stepping stone into something special in 2011.
After the 1999 win, the Raiders jumped to 12-4 and began a three-year run of AFC West titles.
How it all works out this time around remains to be seen.
“We all expected a little bit more. We all expected to be in the playoffs,’’ cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. “That was our theme coming into the season; that was the goal. In training camp, we were saying it all along, this team was different, this team looks like we’re ready to contend. It’s a big year for us.”
Said quarterback Jason Campbell: “We’re just trying to finsh out this year on the right note, a strong note, finish 8-8 and try to get to 6-0 in our division in our division and go into the offseason feeling good about our last game and getting ready for next year.’’
– Asomugha and Richard Seymour conceded they’re not locks to play in the Pro Bowl Jan. 30 (held the week before the Super Bowl) although they hope to be healthy enough when the time arrives.
– Besides alternates moving up the ladder either because of injuries or players who made the team otherwise occupied with preparing for the Super Bowl the following week, another possible Raiders addition is long-snapper Jon Condo.
He was added last year on Jan. 19 in the days leading up to the game as a “need’’ player.
— Sounds as if Jacoby Ford, named the AFC special teams player of the week for his 99-yard kickoff return and 188 return yards against Indianapolis, could add punt return duties next season.
Ford could have conceivably been a Pro Bowler as a rookie this year if he returned punts with anywhere near the effectiveness that he returned kickoffs. The Pro Bowl return specialist (this year Tennessee’s Marc Mariani) typically does both specialities.
“We have been kicking him the ball,’’ coach Tom Cable said.“We did that in camp, in OTAs and all that, but were never really comfortable with that. As the year has gone on, he’s getting more and more comfortable. That certainly may be something for his future.’’
As for Cable’s future, he sidestepped the issue again when asked if he thought the outcome of the Chiefs game could play into his job security.
“I don’t think about that,’’ Cable said. `I think it determines if we can get it to 8-8 and 6-0 in the division. That’s really our goal so that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re focused on that.”
– Shane Lechler was stumping for Sebastian Janikowski, with Baltimore’s Billy Cundiff getting the nod at place kicker for the Pro Bowl.
“Not to have Seabass after the year he’s had, that’s very disappointing,’’ Lechler said. “I know he’s disappointed. I’m disappointed for him. There would be a whole lot of head coaches around the league I guarantee would take him. They won’t say it to their guy’s face, but they would take him over their guy right now. That’s just how it is. That’s how good he is.’’
— The difference between the division title-winning Chiefs and the Raiders?
Cable thinks it’s turnovers. The Raiders have 25 turnovers, more than twice as many as Kansas City (12).
He thinks it’s the biggest reason the Raiders have given up so many points.
The biggest area that I feel like we’re short is turnovers. We’ve done a nice job of scoring points, moving the ball, although erratic at times, but compared to where we were before we’ve done a nice job,’’ Cable said. “We need to be more consistent from game to game that way but the turnover thing is what really hurt this football team in terms of giving people extra opportunities.’’
The Raiders have given up 30 or more points six times, losing all six games. In those games, they have 13 turnovers and six takeaways. Overall, the Raiders are at a minus-3 in turnover margin.
— Although they took the field for warmups, right tackle Langston Walker (concussion) and Darren McFadden (ankle) did not practice along with Seymour.
Wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins (ankle), Nick Miller (ankle), cornerback Chris Johnson (groin) and safety Mike Mitchell (ribs) were limited.
Asomugha (ankle), and Zach Miller (foot) were full go.
— With an early game Sunday, the Raiders again moved up their schedule as they did before they played Jacksonville, getting meetings in before a 9:45 a.m. practice.
The Raiders started well against the Jaguars, leading 17-7 at halftime, but didn’t finish.
“I thought we fired a great shot at Jacksonville, in terms of our effort, and the energy level and the focus and all those things, I felt like were there,’’ Cable said. “And we adapted to it quite well by Friday of that week. And here we’re doing the same thing this week and kind of went right into it this week like no big deal. So, I think it’s something that will stick to us for the future.”
— Chiefs coach Todd Haley told Bay Area reporters by conference call he had no intention of backing off to keep players healthy against Oakland.
“Maybe some teams can think another way but we’re clearly not in that position,’’ Haley said. “We need to take advantage of every practice day we have and every game we have.’’
Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel said: “Absolutely we plan on playing it like a regular game and I’m planning on playing 60 minutes and I think everyone else in the locker room is too. The last thing you want to do is go out and get your butt kicked by the Raiders on Sunday and lose any momentum we’ve built up to this point.’’