By Steve Corkran
Friday, August 5th, 2011 at 7:35 pm in Oakland Raiders.
It used to be commonplace during quarterback Rich Gannon’s tenure here in seven-on-seven passing drills for the ball to find its target time after time, rarely hitting the ground.
Friday’s seven-on-seven session looked much the same, with backup quarterbacks Kyle Boller and Trent Edwards dissecting the defense time and again, the way it’s supposed to work in such a drill.
Boller worked with the first-team offense, Edwards with the second-team because starter Jason Campbell’s groin earned him some much-needed down time.
“He’s been throwing a lot and running around a lot, so I said, ‘Hey, today, buddy, let’s back you off for a day.’ And I’m sure we might rotate all the (quarterbacks) as we go through, just to make sure that I know that their bodies are good. All the crossing over that they do, the dropping and all the throwing, sometimes a guy can get a little sore. There’s nothing wrong with Jason. He’s ready to go.”
Campbell confirmed that his rest owed more to his arm than the groin he tweaked in practice Thursday.
“Just want to rest my arm,” Campbell said. “I’ve been making a lot of throws and everything. So coach just wanted to give me the opportunity to rest my arm since It’s kind of sore.”
Naturally, rookie wide receiver Denarius Moore worked his way into the picture as one of the standouts.
“There goes that man again,” is the way one player put it after Moore put a move on rookie cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke that left Van Dyke looking for help that never came, as Moore blew downfield for a long touchdown.
A short time later, Moore made an impressive grab on a well-placed throw over the middle, with defenders all around him.
“Are you kidding me?” Raiders coach Hue Jackson said, when asked about Moore’s daily heroics.
*Cornerback Stanford Routt shadowed receiver Steve Goulet on a pass play, read the route, jumped it and broke up the pass.
That prompted Jackson to yell, “Hey, Stanley, that’s what I’m talking about. Now you got to come back to the next play.”
Fast forward to the next play: Goulet got behind Routt, hauled in a strike from Boller, with safety Stevie Brown late in help.
*Tight end Brandon Myers made a sliding catch of a pass midway through practice. Before he made it back to his feet, offensive coordinator Al Saunders had sprinted 30 yards downfield to tell Myers, “That’s the tight end we know. That’s the tight end we know.”
Rookie tight end David Ausberry gets credit for the catch of the day for a play on which he caught the ball with one hand as he was hitting the ground, after reaching high to get his hands on the ball and bat it into the air.
“I know I can make the plays, they know I can make them,” Ausberry said. “I’m trying to get that respect and get on the field to help.”
Myers and Ausberry received the bulk of the snaps at tight end Friday, but only because recen signee Kevin Boss wasn’t able to make it here in time for today’s practice.
Jackson said he expects Boss in the fold by Friday. “It’s time to go to work,” Jackson said of Boss. And, Jackson is eager to see Boss make people forget about the loss of Zach Miller to the Seattle Seahawks.
“He’s tall, he’s 6-6, he can run and he can catch,” Jackson said. “He’s a good blocker. He’s played in some really good football games. Very personable young man, loves football, loves competition and wants to be part of something great. My conversation with him at dinner the other night is that I needed a guy that wants to help get us to where we want to go. Sometimes, guys have to make sure they want to make that commitment because out here it’s work.”
*Former Raiders defensive tackle Art Thoms visited practice Friday. In keeping with Jackson’s desire to educate his players on the rich history of the Raiders, defensive line coach Mike Waufle called over Thoms, introduced him to the defensive linemen and informed them of Thoms’ exploits in a Raiders uniform from 1969-76. Class move by Waufle.
*Jackson is a man on the move, darting here, running there, keeping an eye on everything that transpires at practice.
Hence, it wasn’t surprising to see Jackson interrupt a footwork drill by the defensive backs and instruct them to run hard through the end of the play.
*”Oh, there’s a fight. I like it.” That was Jackson’s reaction when he spotted guard Roy Schuening mixing it up with a defensive lineman during pass-protection drills. Schuening took exception to the player tripping him after getting worked by Schuening.
For what it’s worth, there haven’t been many fights during practice so far. Not that Jackson is condoning such actions.
*Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey practiced for the third straight day. And, for the third straight day he was limited to certain drills. For whatever reason, he hasn’t been cleared to take part in all drills, including seven-on-seven drills and full-team scrimmages.
*Rookie cornerback Sterling Moore quickly is asserting himself as a player to watch. He intercepted an Edwards pass on one play an broke up a deep pass on another one.
He said he welcomes the challenge, especially when he is lined up against the other Moore, “that man again.”
“Yeah, we go at it every day,” Sterling Moore said. “Sometimes, we’ll stay after practice and work on our own releases. So, we’ve got a little thing going where it’s a little rivalry. He got the best of me (Thursday), and I got him in one-on-ones a couple days ago, so we go back and forth.”
*Khalif Barnes took some reps at right offensive tackle, giving rookie Joseph Barksdale a breather. Barksdale took almost every rep Thursday and looked pretty worn out at one point.
Samson Satele split reps with rookie Stefen Wisniewski at center, with Wisniewski getting some time at guard. Satele and Wisniewski are going to have to earn their playing time, Jackson said.
“It’s respect,” Jackson said of giving Satele a fair shot. “You earn your way. As I said when we drafted (Wiz), we didn’t have a center on our team at that time. But we brought back a guy who’s started a lot of games for us.You have to earn your way up here. We’re not just giving anybody anything. You’re gonna earn it, and he’s in there competing. He is doing a tremendous job. He did a great job before Sammy got here, and he’s done a great job since Sammy’s got here.”
*Jackson said that receiver Louis Murphy still is “nicked up,” but that Murphy is getting close to returning to practice. Same goes for running back Taiwan Jones, who worked off to the side with trainers.
Murphy and Jones were among the 17 players who missed practice. Also, running back Michael Bush still hasn’t signed his one-year tender and he has missed every practice so far.
*Middle linebacker Rolano McClain was among those who missed practice. Jackson said he is being cautious with McClain and not wanting to wear him out.
McClain said he intends to speak with the media for the first time this season Monday.
*Undrafted rookie receiver Derrick Jones (California, Pa.) suffered a torn Achilles on Thursday. That all but ensures that he won’t be able to play football in 2011.
*Second-year linebacker Travis Goethel has worked at all three spots during camp. That’s part of taking advantage of Goethel’s versatility and determination, Jackson said.
“He can play all three spots,” Jackson said. “He is very bright, he is a hitter. He is a guy we lean on to do a lot of different things. (He’s) another one of those players who is young and talented on this football team.”