By Steve Corkran
Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 at 7:40 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Raiders head coach Hue Jackson wasn’t all smiles after practice Wednesday. There weren’t any “wows” about the tempo, the physical nature of practice or players competing as hard as they can.
No, this was the side of Jackson that the players don’t want to see. And he let them know in no uncertain terms that the way they performed at practice, especially in the latter part, won’t be tolerated.
“That wasn’t a Raider practice,” Jackson said. “I told them that. One thing I am going to always do is be very honest with my team. I took the pads off and all of a sudden we decided we wanted to take some plays down. But that’s OK. You’re going to have some of those days. That’s part of the process. They had a day off, and all of a sudden (their) bodies try to get back. They’re re-adjusting to all of this.”
*Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey practiced for the first time since training camp opened a week ago. It’s still a mystery as to why he missed the first five practices, with Heyward-Bey and Jackson evasive about the subject.
Heyward-Bey caught balls early on in practice and looked capable of doing everything that his fellow receivers were asked to do. Ultimately, Heyward-Bey sat out the latter part of practice.
Jackson said it’s part of easing him into the mix and being fearful of losing Heyward-Bey for an extended period of time. It’s the same approach Jackson is using with all his players.
That list is growing by the day. Receiver Louis Murphy, guard Cooper Carlisle, fullback James McCluskey, offensive linemen Alan Pelc and Lou (formerly Elias) Eliades joined guard Bruce Campbell, receivers Jacoby Ford and Edward McGee, cornerbacks Joe Porter and Chimdi Chekwa and running back Taiwan Jones on the sideline.
At one point, Jackson ordered his players to take off their pads as a means of ensuring that more players wouldn’t get hurt.
“We’ve got some nicks here and there, and we’re down at some positions now,” Jackson said. “We only had five linebackers. What you do is everything you can do to make sure your team finishes practice. I didn’t want all of the banging at that time, so let’s take them off and continue to get the process that we’re in. The intensity needs to be higher when we do it.”
*Fox Sports’ Adam Caplan reported that the Raiders were prepared to pay former Raiders offensive tackle Mario Henderson $1.7 million. That went out the window when Henderson failed his physical. The Raiders turned around and gave that money to veteran offensive tackle Stephon Heyer, Caplan said.
*NFL Films is missing the boat if it fails to mike up Jackson during training camp or a game.
After running back Darren McFadden stonewalled linebacker Quentin Groves during a pass-protection drill, Jackson launched into one of his classic rants in which he pumps up one side of the ball and challenges the other to meet the challenge.
“Give me some,” Jackson said to McFadden after the sequence ended. “That’s how you hit them. You want some of that (Kamerion) Wimbley?”
On it went, with Jackson goading the defenders into meeting McFadden’s intensity.
*Raiders quarterback Jason Campbell knows a good thing when he sees one. Hence, he never let tight end Zach Miller out of his sights for very long and oftentimes looked for him whenever a play broke down or the pressure got too intense last season.
Miller’s a now member of the Seattle Seahawks, and Campbell is without a security blanket until he finds someone to take Miller’s place.
“It’s a big part of our offense,” Campbell said of Miller. “He was a big target. You don’t ever just replace guys like that. You just have to throw in the young guys that we have, give them an opportunity to get better each and every day in practice. Things take time. We’ve just got to keep pushing forward, but definitely losing him was a tough loss for this team. Congratulations to him. It’s a big signing and we have to move forward.”
Just before Campbell spoke, free agent tight end David Boss worked out on the field after practice. Campbell knows full well what Boss is capable of, having seen him twice a year when they played against each other in the NFC East from 2007-09.
“He’s a big target,” Campbell said of Boss, a member of the New York Giants the past four seasons. “He’s a big guy. But it all comes down to the coaches decision and if they feel like he fits our offense and the things that we do from that standpoint. He’s a guy, he’s big, he can run, and he’s played in tough games before, so ultimately it will probably come down to how they feel with the guys that we have here and how he fits into our offense.”
*Rookie receiver Denarius Moore is fitting in quite well in the early going. The 6-feet, 195-pounder out of Tennessee put on a clinic during practice Wednesday, with much of his damage coming against No. 1 cornerback Stanford Routt.
“Wow! You guys know I like using that term, wow,” Jackson said. “He’s a tremendous young player. He’s very talented. That young man played at Tennessee and everything he did at Tennessee he’s doing out here on our field. And when you look around, every time you look up, there’s number 17 making a play.
“And I talked to our guys, this game is about performance, and (Moore) comes out every day and he performs. The guys that are able to stay healthy and compete each and every day as well as our guys have, they’re going to have chance to play on this football team.”
Moore fought through tight coverage by Routt on a deep pattern, regained his balance and hauled in a long pass from Campbell that was right on the mark.
A few plays later, Moore cut in toward the middle of the field and snared a laser from Campbell, with Routt trailing the play. He added a short reception later in practice.
Routt shut down Moore on another deep pass, running stride for stride with Moore the entire route.
“Denarius Moore is like another Jacoby,” Campbell said. “He’s like one of those those guys that you pick up late in the draft, and you wonder, ‘How did this guy fall?’ He’s so talented, he’s so athletic. When you see Jacoby, it’s kind of like you have to do a double-glimpse, make sure it’s him or 17.
“The guy’s playing hard. He runs hard in practice, he has that factor, some things you just can’t coach, he has about him. He’s a guy that can add a lot to our offense this year and what we do.”
Moore said he is just doing what the coaches ask of him and trying to make a favorable impression whenever he gets an opportunity.
“I feel like I’m starting to get the groove of things, starting to get the plays down play by play, day by day,” Moore said.
Moore is the only collegiate player who posted two 200-yard receiving games last year, when he starred for Tennessee. It’s that kind of playmaking the Raiders are looking for from their receivers.
Playing in the Southeastern Conference helped prepare Moore for the transition to the NFL, he said.
“As far as SEC, they like to press, a whole bunch of quick corners and quick jams,” Moore said. “As soon as I get here, it’s the same thing. Once I get down with my time with the reps I should just fit right in.”
Jackson credited Moore and Campbell more for being in synch than he faulted Routt for getting beat.
“Well, there’s a lot of things coming at Stanford, too,” Jackson said. “We’re not just sitting there lining up saying, ‘Here, cover us.’ We’re moving around a little bit, we’re making it tough on those guys. But, yeah, I want Stanford competing. I didn’t see anything in that, that I go, ‘Oh, my Gosh, you know, Stanford’s not getting it done.’ I see rhythm and timing of our offense, the quarterback throwing the ball on time in a rhythm and a guy making a play.”
“He has a chance to come play center,” Jackson said of Satele. “This game is about competition and competing and performance. I know everyone said I’ve handed the job to Stefen but, at that time, Stefen was the only center other than (Alex) Parsons on our team.
“So, Sammy’s back, and he’ll get a chance to go in there and line up and play and show what he’s got. He’s a veteran player carrying a lot of games. But, obviously, I’m very happy with Wisniewski. He’s doing an excellent job and, again, that’s going to be fun to see because we’re going to raise the level of play of this whole football team.”
Satele said he received offers from other teams but instructed his agent to get something worked out with the Raiders, if at all possible.
Satele worked at guard during his first NFL training camp, when he was a member of the Miami Dolphins. He wound up at center his rookie season and has played there almost exclusively during his four NFL seasons.
“I’ve got to battle this kid, a second-rounder, and he looks good out there,” Satele said. “My focus is not starting the preseason, but I want to start that Sept. 12 game at Denver and keep it all the way through the season. So, my focus is on beating him out any which way. And if I’m the man, I’m the man. And if he’s the man, he’s the man. Whoever doesn’t win the job, he’ll be the sixth man.”
*Running back Michael Bush is the only one of the 11 players selected by the Raiders in the 2007 NFL draft still on their roster. Quarterback JaMarcus Russell, Miller, receivers Johnnie Lee Higgins and Jonathan Holland, Henderson, defensive ends Quentin Moses and Jay Richardson, defensive backs John Bowie and Eric Frampton and fullback Oren O’Neal are with other teams or out of the league.