Raiders managing general partner Al Davis wasn’t thrilled with former coach Tom Cable for keeping rookie offensive lineman Bruce Campbell on the bench all last season. Davis wants to see Campbell on the field, in games. Coach Hue Jackson said Thursday that that’s a distinct possibility.
“Obviously, year two into the process of Bruce Campbell, there’s something great there,” Jackson said. “What he needs to do is go play now. He’s practiced, he’s getting healthier, he feels good about where he is now. He just needs to go in a game and perform and that’s what we’re looking for.”
Campbell missed the first two weeks of practice while recovering from a right knee injury that he suffered in an offseason workout. Now that he’s back, he is itching to play in an exhibition game.
That chance might come as soon as Saturday, whenthe Raiders play the 49ers at Candlestick Park.
“Yeah, I’m just trying to wait for the day so I can just let loose that day,” Campbell said. ”I missed two weeks of camp. Just ready to get back into the flow.”
Campbell has been eased back into the swing of things. He is getting more and more reps as his knee improves. Jackson still hasn’t settled upon his starting five offensive linemen.
Despite missing so much practice time, Jackson said Campbell is in the mix for a starting spot.
“No question. Oh, yeah, he is. Again, it’s about performance. He’s got to go out now and perform. Everybody’s going to earn what they get here.”
Jackson said as much to Campbell at some point before Wednesday. That boost of confidence should help erase some of the bad memories Campbell had from his dealings with Cable.
“Yeah, it actually was nice to hear,” Campbell said, ”because missing weeks in the NFL is like missing an opportunity. So, it was good to hear he felt that way. I really did enjoy it. I liked it.”
For the record, the starting linemen Thursday, from left to right: Jared Veldheer, Daniel Loper, Stefen Wisniewski, Cooper Carlisle and Khalif Barnes.
*Center Samson Satele spent the better part of practice riding a stationary bike and running on a treadmill. In other words, he looked a lot better than he did 24 hours earlier, when he left practice with a hurt left leg.
He feels so much better that he intends to play against the 49ers, he said.
“We play a game on Saturday night, I’m playing,” Satele said. He said he’ll even be at practice Friday morning.
Jackson used the opportunity to chide reporters for pointing out his overly optimistic projections for injured wide receiver Louis Murphy and cornerback Chris Johnson, among others, in recent days.
“Come on, I told you guys he was fine,” Jackson said. “Again, I get to exercise the right to keep these guys out. You guys see him walking around. He’s going to be fine.”
*At some point, Jackson is going to have to settle upon an offensive line. He insists that he isn’t bound by any hard-and-fast deadline.
When the dust settled, Jackson promises an offensive line that will be “formidable.”
“What’s going to happen is, as we continue to move forward, again, once I get all these guys back out here, which I will pretty soon, then we’ll be able to make a determination on who those five guys should be. It’s a tough race.”
*Rookie cornerback Chimdi Chekwa missed Oakland’s first exhibition game with a sore left shoulder. Jackson said Chekwa will make his NFL debut against the 49ers.
“He’s definitely going to be up and going to have an opportunity to play,” Jackson said. “He’s another young player, a young talent that we have on this team that I’m looking forward to watching play in a performance-type situation against an opponent.”
*Rookie running back Taiwan Jones, like Chekwa, has missed significant practice time in training camp. Jones suffered a hamstring injury in a one-on-one drill agaisnt middle linebacker Rolando McClain.
Jones said he feels as if he is 100 percent. When he makes his NFL debut is up to the training staff.
“I actually have been surprised how long I was out,” Jones said. “Like I said, I never had a hamstring injury. so they’re just being extra cautious. But, for the most part, it’s nothing serious. As soon as the Raiders say I’m ready, I’m ready.”
Jackson is eager to see what Jones can do in a game. He got a brief glimpse of Jones’ outstanding speed and explosiveness early in camp. He wants another taste, and soon.
“Oh, you better believe I am,” Jackson said, when asked if he intends to see Jones in an exhibition game. “I sure am going to see him. I’m going to see him pretty soon. The guy is working hard. He’s very close to being back out here and when he’s out here, we’re going to turn him loose.”
Jones worked on some agility drills off to the side Thursday, and he looked as if he was moving around without any limitations.
*Coaches are adept at pushing buttons and knowing when to push them. Jackson no doubt used a question about the rapid progress of veteran wide receiver Derek Hagan in picking up the offense so soon and making a strong push to make the 53-man roster to send a message to the younger players.
“He understands that instead of going in and playing X-Box at night time and trying to figure out what man can score a touchdown on that video game, he goes in, he takes his book, opens it and works on it,” Jackson said. “That’s a tribute to him.”
You can bet Jackson is counting upon the media to run that line so that the other players will see it and get the not-so-subtle message.
Hagan had another impressive day of practice Thursday, catching out routes, slants, whatever came his way. He is making it difficult for the Raiders to overlook.
Sure enough, Hagan said, without prompting, that his film study plays a vital part in his success.
“That’s just studying film and knowing how to run routes,” Hagan said. “I have known how to run routes since college. Most routes are a timing thing, and sometimes coach will let me know if I am too short or too deep. I just try and come back the next play and improve.”
Hagan said he is confident in his chances of making the opening-day roster.
“I feel great,” Hagan said. “I didn’t come in just to be here. I came here to help this team win, it doesn’t matter if I am starting or the third receiver or fourth receiver.”
*Jackson was asked about the Raiders potential interest in Ohio State quarterback in the Supplemental Draft on Monday. He refused to take the bait or tip his hand.
“I know he plays quarterback,” Jackson said, obviously in no mood to touch the subject. “I haven’t done much (research). I’m going to coach this team. I’m not worried about him. I have a quarterback. I have two very good backup quarterbacks. Who says he might be on our team. That’s what you said.”
When pressed, Jackson said:
”Ahhhh. Ahhhh. The supplemental draft is when, men?” Jackson asked. ”Monday. I can’t speak to that. I’m worried about the 49ers right now.”
*Don’t tell Jackson that Saturday’s game is just another exhibition game against a faceless, nameless opponent. He’s all-in when it comes to the so-called Battle of the Bay.
“Oakland vs. San Francisco,” Jackson said. “Toll road, have to pay. You don’t have to pay when you come on the other side. That’s the way I look at it. It’s the 49ers vs. the Oakland Raiders. We’re going there with a purpose, just like any game we play. We go to win.”
*Johnson, Murphy and backup safety Hiram Eugene were spotted walking around the hotel and practice facility Thursday. Johnson spent most of the practice mingling with the players and keeping tabs on what was happening.
Johnson and Murphy underwent surgery within the past few days, both for undisclosed injuries. Murphy said he has been bothered by a sore hamstring and groin.
*Veteran safety Matt Giordano gets credit for the play of the day for his interception of a Jason Campbell pass intended for tight end Kevin Boss.
Giordano read the play well, broke on the ball and jumped in front of Boss to take away the ball.
*Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was at practice, but he didn’t do much outside of position and individual drills. He has looked impressive in practice since he returned from an offseason injury.
*Sixteen players missed practice Thursday. Jackson said the Raiders are fortunate, though, because very few of the injuries are serious enough to cause players to miss much time.
“I know everybody’s talking about where we are,” Jackson said. “I want (everyone) to know, I’m extremely happy where our football team is at this point in time. … If you look around the league, everybody’s having similar issues. The difference is, obviously, ours have been with some of our top-line players. That’s going to happen. And I’d rather it happen now than happen later.”
*Jackson reiterated that he is in constant communication with Davis and that they are on the same page in terms of what they want from this year’s team.
“(The conversations) are great,” Jackson said. “They’re daily, they’re constant, they’re unbelievable. I love talking to coach (Davis). We keep talking about this team. His whole focus and my whole focus is, how do we continue to get this team better? We know we need to get this team healthy. But we know we want to get this team better, too.”