By Steve Corkran
Sunday, August 14th, 2011 at 10:30 am in Oakland Raiders.
Raiders coach Hue Jackson fielded numerous questions after Saturday’s spirited practice in front about 150 fans in Napa. Here’s a transcript of the question-and-answer session with the Bay Area media:
Outstanding, another day, another practice, another opportunity to get better. I think we did that. Obviously guys fought through it. Long practice today, but it was a good one, a tough one. That’s what it’s supposed to be. Especially after you lose a game. But the guys are responding. They know what needs to be done. We’re still addressing our penalty issues. Spent some time in the scoring zone today. Still need to get better there and we will. But we’re addressing the things that we need to fix each and every day and we’ll get there.
Q: Was all red zone stuff a result of what happened in game?
Jackson: I don’t tell ‘em, you hear that horn go off. Anything can happen when I blow that horn. That’s the name of the game. I don’t want them to know and have it planned so everyone is prepared and ready to go. That’s just the way it is. You hear the siren go off, that means anything goes, and I set the ball down and we decide to go down there and have a little fun. And defense did a great job. Offense has got to continue to grow and we will.
Q: Went live for a few sequences, all the way to the ground, you have balance that based on health coming out of game, or is it, we need to get better so we’re going to do it?
Jackson: No, you have to balance it, but I thought it was time to do it. It was a good time to do it. Guys are back, had a day off, bodies are recovered let’s go back at it again. I keep telling you the physical part of this team is going to be what I want it to be at some point in time. We’re working at it each and every day. I think we’re getting better at it, and Week 2, is time to make that next jump, and obviously, like I said, the defense, they rose up, and the offense fought. I mean, that’s the beautiful part about this team. There’s going to be a fraction of this team that looks really good. There’s going to be another fraction, all of a sudden that’s got to catch up and then all of it flips and the offense does something good and the defense is saying, Oh, gosh, we got to get them stopped. That’s part of competing.
Q: Best way to work out penalties . . . don’t want guys timid and not getting off afraid of penalties . . .
Jackson: There’s a fine line. I think we’ve got a couple of culprits, I kind of know who they are. And I’m addressing them, just those guys in particular, but obviously it’s a team wide problem. We need to address it. There was one guy that had three the other night, one guy that had three today in practice, so I’m addressing those guys. The one guy that had three the other night didn’t have one today and I didn’t say anything to him. That’s improvement, and that’s what you’re looking for. I think our guys understand what needs to happen. They’re pros, and pros get things fixed. And that’s what I expect from our football team.
Q: Update on Chaz?
Jackson: Yeah, there’s an update on Chaz. Chaz has a sprain, and we’ll be week to week with it. Again, I think, you know how those things go. Again, it all depends on how fast guys heal, how quickly guys heal, and I think he’ll heal quickly from this and be back out here very soon.
Q: How important is he to this offense?
Jackson: Very. I mean, he’s a big guy, he’s dominant in what he does. He’s a big target for our quarterback. Again, I know every time there’s an injury, everybody goes, `Oh, my God.’ I don’t, because I know this is football. Obviously we want to make sure all our players are out there. But these things happen. Like I told you before, I’d feel different if these were injuries that are going to last the whole year. All of a sudden we’re not going to get guys back or something like that. These are those week to week things. And I’ve termed ‘em nicks. You guys have made that well known. I’ve termed ‘em nicks, because it is. You get a player, right now, with no offseason, no training, all of a sudden a guy gets hurt, it takes a little bit to get a guy back, and we’re going to be cautious. We’re going to be cautious in getting people back, so we’ll take our time, and we’ll get him back and we’ll be ready to go.
Q: Even moreso with a guy that has a history of injury like he does . . .
Jackson: Absolutely, and that’s what’s unfortunate, because he’s doing so good, but those things, again, you hate to see it happen, but those things do happen.
Q: Van Dyke tight coverage on Fitzgerald twice, gave up one catch, then got beat by lesser receivers . How was his bounce back?
Jackson: I thought it was good. Obviously No. 17 went up and made a play. It’s competing. When I talk to the young man, there is no fear in him at all. Like you said, Fitzgerald makes those plays on everybody. I’ve seen him make them on the best in this league. He made one on that young man. But the young man came back and stayed with him the next time and that’s what this is all about. Then you come back out here to practice and every now and then I scheme things against him, to go test him, and I got him today. And that’s the fun part about our young players getting better every day, and they’re going to win some, and they’re going to lose some. What I want to make sure is when they lose ‘em, they don’t go in the tank, and that’s one thing about him. He doesn’t go in the tank. He comes out here, he keeps battling, and he’s looking for the next opportunity.
What’s up with Louis Murphy?
I think he’s close. I think he’s close. That’s yet to be determined, but I think he’s closer than he was the other day when it was asked. I think we’ll get him back pretty soon, and I’m excited to get him back. I’m excited when we get all of our players back.
Chimdi Chekwa took some small steps toward getting back?
Absolutely. We’re going to be very cautious with those guys and keep them away from the hitting. Once we know that his body is ready to go, we’ll bounce him around a little bit and get him back in there.
Same thing for Bruce Campbell?
Again, we’re cautiously putting those guys back in there. We’re getting them through individual drills and getting their legs back up underneath them. You’ve got to do that before you let them start hitting, because a lot of things can happen the other way.
How has Darrius Heyward-Bey looked?
God, he’s better. He’s gotten better. The guy caught the ball in the game. We threw it to him and he caught it. He went up and made a play on a contested catch. As I told you guys before, there’s no question in my mind, that at some point in time, he’s going to start coming down with those. He is working his tail off. He is very determined. He had a great day today. He’s catching the ball when we throw it to him, and that’s what matters. Obviously, his confidence is up, and the quarterback’s confidence is up in him. We just keep on going, and I think he’s doing a heck of a job.
What happened to Stephon Heyer?
I just think he got a strain. I don’t know exactly where it is. It might have been a triceps or something like that. Those things are going to happen when you’re punching like we’re trying to punch.
How tough is this for a rookie, like Chekwa?
It’s tough, because we have some guys competing. Again, we drafted this young man because we think he can play. We’re going to be cautious with him and make sure he’s completely healthy. But we need to stick him in there, because it’s about performance in the game. We need to put him in there and see what he can do.
Q: Lots of teams in preseason stay vanilla, not show what they’re going to do. You threw ball 36 times, ran a reverse, threw ball deep on first play, blitzed a lot, can there be value in showing a team a lot so they don’t’ know what to expect?
Jackson: You’re going to laugh, that’s as vanilla as I’ve been in a long time. That was vanilla ice cream. I mean, there was no cherry on the top, no sprinkles. There was nothing to that. That was basic, Raider football. You’ll know when I decide to open up this can. We ain’t opened it yet. There’s no need to. We’re still teaching our team. We’re two and a half weeks into the season. We had a game, no doubt, a game that we got a chance to see what we are. That’s the beautiful part about coming back this week. You know kind of find out about who your team is and now you play to your team. My system is not about a system. My system is about the players that I have, and you put players in position to have success, period. That’s’ what we do. Offense, defense, special teams, that’s what we do, and if we continue to do that we’ll be fine. But it’s not all about opening it up just yet. But we will throw the ball and we’re going to throw the ball with the best of ‘em and we’re going to run the ball with the best of ‘em. But when that time comes, we’ll be in full gear.
Hiram Eugene update?
We all know that Hiram had surgery, but we need to find out what’s going on with that surgery. There are some decisions that need to be made after that surgery and when we see where he is. Those things will be coming soon, but we’ve got to further evaluate that to know what it is.
Impressions of Sterling Moore so far?
He competes. He’s tough. He’s not afraid. I know he wants to be in the game. He’s always, ‘Coach, can I get in?’ That’s good. He’s a tough, competitive guy. He didn’t play a ton, but I think he’s a guy who we have to give a chance and see what he can do.
Will Edwards play against the 49ers?
He’ll play vs. the Niners. I was happy with his performance. He’s a guy who hasn’t been here a long time. I’m giving him information in the quarterback communicator, and I can see his eyes going, ‘OK, let me figure this play out.’ He hasn’t been here very long, so I’m trying to make sure I’m putting him in good situations to have success. Every now and then, you have to call something that he might not be sure of and see if he fixes it. I was happy with him. I’m sure there were a couple of throws that he wishes he had back, but he’s done a great job. All three of those quarterbacks are battling. Al and myself have done a great job with those guys. They spend a lot of time getting themselves ready, and we’re going to continue to work them and continue to grow and continue to become the offense that I know we will become.
Has Trent Edwards recovered from all the hits he took in Buffalo?
I don’t see any fear where he’s worried about getting hit. I can’t speak to what happened in Buffalo. I saw what happened in Buffalo, but I don’t see him being unsure or afraid that something is going to happen. The guy is competing, cutting the ball loose, learning the system and learning his players. He’s doing a great job.
How is Zac Etheridge?
I don’t know that. I think he’s another week-to-week guy. We’ll just kind of see where he is and go from there.
Are you looking forward to the Battle of the Bay against the 49ers?
Yes, I am. I’m looking forward to the next opponent. I mean, we just lost. So, next team, we’re ready to play. We’re ready to put this team back out there, get better and make the next jump. I think our guys will be ready to perform.
Why would you ever kick a preseason 21-yard FG?
Who is that question for? Did we kick a 21-yard field goal? (Yes) Why would you not? Don’t you work on PAT protection? You don’t know that you can make that. What if there is a breakdown in protection and someone can jump through and block a kick? You still have new linemen out there.
You don’t do many in practice.
We do enough when the time comes, and that’s the point. You have to do it in the games to make sure that you don’t have faulty protection. You never want to take the chance of not scoring points. That’s what we’re going to be about: Take points any time we can get them in the right situation.