By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Monday, August 15th, 2011 at 7:27 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Pinch-hitting for Steve Corkran today with some information following the Raiders non-padded practice session Monday:
Offensive coordinator Al Saunders met with the media for the first time since being named offensive coordinator, talking about roots in Oakland that go all the way back to being a ballboy for the Al Davis-coached Raiders at Frank Youell Field.
“I grew up and and went to elementary school and junior high here, played at San Jose (State), got my masters at Stanford, so I’m a Bay Area guy,” Saunders said.
Saunders has interviewed with Davis on a few occasions throughout the years for vacancies at head coach as well as offensive coordinator. The opportunity to work with Hue Jackson _ the two worked together in Baltimore _ was one he couldn’t pass up.
“Sometimes in your life it’s the right time to do things” Saunders said. “I have worked for some great people and always had the opportunity to be in some really great organizations, and this was the right time to be here.”
– Interesting story by Saunders regarding Jason Campbell, whom he worked with in Washington. When it appeared Campbell wasn’t a part of Mike Shanahan’s regime with the Redskins, the two spoke at a barbecue at Saunders’ home in Northern Virginia.
Saunders immediately steered Campbell toward Jackson and Oakland.
“I said, `The best place for you, in my opinion, would be to go to the Oakland Raiders with Hue Jackson and the kind of football team that it is and the opportunity that it is. He chose to do that last year, and I decided that it would be fun to join him,” Saunders said. “He is one of the main reasons I came here, besides the affinity that I have for Oakland and the people in this organization. Jason is a special guy in my mind. If I can make any contribution at all to his development and to his success, I would be very excited.”
– Saunders on his role in helping Jackson: “I was a first-time head coach when I was 35 years old in San Diego and I know what that is. Hue is a young guy with a tremendous upside. He’s the right man for this job. I want to do everything I can to help make sure that when I do takes a little weight off his shoulders because there’s so many things on his plate and there’s so many experiences I’ve had in the National Football League so I can help ease his burden quite a bit in a lot of areas.”
– Safeties Matt Giordano and Josh Bullocks got work in the depleted Raiders secondary. A pair of former second-round draft picks in 2005, they’ll be given every chance to win a roster spot, according to Jackson.
“When we put guys on this team we put them on with the thought process that they have an opportunity. It’s all about performance,” Jackson said. “You’ve got to rise up and make plays.”
Free safety Hiram Eugene (disclocated hip) and undrafted free agent Zac Etheridge (knee) aren’t expected back in the near future. The good news is Stevie Brown, who tweaked an ankle defending a pass late in Sunday’s practice doesn’t appear to be seriously injured. Brown was a spectator Monday, but was walking from the field house to the hotel following practice without either a limp or a wrapped ankle.
– A helmetless Darren McFadden took a few handoffs in an early drill before taking the rest of the practice off. Jacoby Ford is no longer wearing a protective sleeve on his broken left hand, but the hand remains swollen and has a sizable surgical scar.
– Jackson instuted his “over 30 club” for older players, giving them the day off heading into an off day Tuesday. Included among the rested were defensive tackles Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly and John Henderson, guards Cooper Carlisle and Daniel Loper, running back Michael Bennett and linebacker Sam Williams.
– Hard to imagine seventh-round pick David Ausberry not making the 53-man roster based on his play throughout camp. Ausberry would be a much bigger story of not for fifth-round pick Denarius Moore.
“He is a tremendous find for us. He’s doing some great things,” Jackson said. “He is a matchup nightmare for most people. He can catch, he can run, he learns well, so we’re excited that he’s a part of our organization.”
– Saunders was enthused when the Campbell nailed back-to-back red zone touchdown passes, the first to fullback Marcel Reece, and the second to wide receiver Shaun Bodiford with a leaping catch on the back line.
Bodiford is having a very good camp, although it seems unlikely he would pass what appears to be a clear top six at the position in Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy, Jacoby Ford, Chaz Schilens, Denarius Moore and Nick Miller.
At this point, neither Murphy nor Schilens is practicing because of injuries, but neither is expected to be anything to keep them off the roster at this point.
– Another receiver who had a strong day was undrafted free agent Eddie McGee (6-foot-4, 210 pounds). McGee missed more than a week with an undisclosed injury but had a strong day Monday.
– Fifteen practices in the book and still no Al Davis, the first time anyone can remember the Raiders being this deep into camp and not seeing the owner on the field.
Senior executive John Herrera said Davis has been in Napa, but not on the field. Asked if Davis is expected to attend road games, Herrera said, “He was at our opening game so I’d fully expect him to be at all our games like he always is.”