By Steve Corkran
Friday, August 19th, 2011 at 2:29 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Coach Hue Jackson put his troops through a 65-minute practice Friday so that his players could “polish” up some things in prepartion for their exhibition game against the 49ers.
The practice featured the return of center Samson Satele from a left leg injury and running back Taiwan Jones, who has been out for quite awhile with a hamstring injury.
Satele jumped right back into the mix, only two days after he suffered an injury midway through practice. He received a majority of the reps with the first-team offense and showed no lingering effects from his injury.
Jones, meanwhile, was held out of full-team drills, even though he was in full uniform. That portends his not playing against the 49ers.
*Jackson remains mum on the playing time for his front-line players against the 49ers on Saturday night.
The first-team defense received only six snaps in most cases against the Arizona Cardinals in the first game. That almost caused a “mutiny,” according to Jackson.
“Oh, yeah, I was mad at Hue,” free safety Michael Huff said. “I told him at the game I was mad we only played six plays. I wanted to get out there and get my feet wet, to do a little more. So, hopefully, this week we play a lot more. You kind of never know, it depends on how the game goes.”
Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said it’s not the number of plays, it’s the quality of work for veteran players such as him, defensive tackle Richard Seymour and Huff.
“Preseason is to get you in game shape,” Kelly said. “None of these stats count. All you want to do is get your technique back, get back used to running into people and stuff like that. I just want to knock them down, get my technique down and I’ll be ready to go when we go to Denver.”
Jackson promised more playing time for his front-line guys.
“There was a little chuckle as I walked down the sideline because that’s the way you want them to be,” Jackson said of the near mutiny. “It’s the work that’s going on out here that’s starting to pay off. They can see it and they can feel it.
“Then, when you have an opportunity to do it you want to go do it. It’s like we gave them a little candy and took it away. We’ll give them a little more this week and see what they’ll do and just keep getting this thing to where we need to get it too.”
*Given teams weren’t able to conduct any offseason workouts, Jackson said, it’s possible that projected starters will see action in all four exhibition games.
Typically, the fourth and final game is reserved for young, inexperienced players, and those seeking to make the 53-man roster. It’s rare that starters play at all in the final game, with coaches already certain what they can do and fearful of getting any of them injured a little more than a week before the regular-season opener.
*Veteran Chad Jackson had himself quite a day at practice after an inauspicious beginning. He caught several passes on a variety of routes, including one for a touchdown in front of safety Stevie Brown.
Jackson, fellow veteran Derek Hagan, and several other receivers who weren’t on the team last year are making a strong push for inclusion on the opening-day roster.
Regardless who is part of the receiving corps, coach Jackson said he is confident that one of them is going to break out and have a huge season.
Randy Moss was the last wide receiver to compile a 1,000-yard season for a Raiders receiver, and that came in 2005. Louis Murphy led Raiders wide receivers with 609 yards last season. His 521 yards in 2009 led all wide receivers.
“Somebody’s going to jump out of that pack, there’s no question,” Jackson said. “I truly believe that. Somebody will jump out of the pack and have a bang-up season, and I suspect there’s going to be a couple players that will do that. Our offense is multi-faceted. We’re going to do everything we can to create opportunities for guys to make plays. (If a) guy shows me he can make plays, I am going to keep giving him opportunities to make plays. That’s what this is all about.”
*Still no sign of safety Mike Mitchell, who has been out for two weeks or so with an undisclosed injury. Other injured players have been spotted either working out with trainers or mingling with their teammates during practice.
Murphy declined comment on Friday, when asked for a brief update on his recent surgery.
*Huff said he is looking forward to defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan’s scheme, where Huff will be used in a variety of roles.
At times, Huff will slide over to cornerback, play nickel back, play dime back and even blitz more than he has in the past.
“That’s my Texas days, playing free, strong, nickel, play the dime a little bit,” Huff said. “That way, I get to do it all. That way I get to blitz more without the offense knowing. Anytime in the post, they knew I was coming. So, this will help us disguise more.”
In a perfect world, Huff would play more free safety than he is right now. However, that won’t take place until one of the young cornerbacks steps up and shows that he can be counted upon in pass coverage.
*Rookie tight end Davis Ausberry turned in the catch of the game in the Raiders exhibition contest against the Cardinals, when he snared a Trent Edwards pass and had the presence of mind to get both feet in the end zone before he went out of bounds.
That wasn’t a fluke, Ausberry said. He is a regular among young players who stay after practice for extra work with some of the assistant coaches.
“Well, it’s one of those things I work on every day,” Ausberry said. “You got to make the catch first, secure it, drag your toes and make it count. It was something I was concentrating on, just waiting for my number to be called. I got it and made the opportunity count.”
By most accounts, Ausberry is making a smooth transition from wide receiver to tight end in his first NFL season. There are some things that present a challenge, just the same.
“I have never been in a 3-point stance, so just having to recognize the defensive front and look at linebackers,” Ausberry said. “I have never done it before, and that’s something I am trying to work on everyday, trying to recognize the defense and use certain techniques to block. Things you would never know or learn as a wide receiver. That part of the game is starting to slow down for me a little bit.”
*Kelly and the other defensive linemen love playing for defensive line coach Mike Waufle, who Jackson calls the best at what he does.
At the same time, Kelly and his linemates get a kick out of Waufle’s intensity and unique way of teaching. Last year, Kelly chuckled and said “Waufle, he’s crazy.”
On Friday, Kelly got another chance to describe the coach he adores so much.
“Something wrong with Waufle,” Kelly said. “You can’t pick your coaches.”
On a serious note, Kelly pointed out fortunate he and the other defensive linemen are to work under Waufle.
“He does a great job,” Kelly said. “Waufle’s a veteran, he’s been around the game. He’s been with some of the best D-ends and the best D-tackles in Grady (Jackson) and Darrell Russell, Michael Strahan. So, you know he knows the game. It’s just he’s a little older than we are. You have a hard time relating, but we get the message. We know what he wants us to do.”
*Jackson uses one of former coach Tom Cable’s lines when outlining what the Raiders defense needs to do to become a dominant unit.
He watched Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis for a few years when he was with the Ravens, and the kind of intensity Lewis played with it what he wants to see from his players.
“Cut it loose. Cut it loose,” Jackson said. ”I was around one of the greatest warriors in all of pro football in Ray Lewis. I sat with this gentleman many a times and talked about football. There’s no fear in anything.
“Sometimes, players get afraid to make a mistake. I don’t think in this game you can worry about that. You play. As I tell the defense, I got your back. Just like the offense, I got their back. Don’t worry about it. Cut loose and go play and fly around and play football the way football is meant to be played.”
*Bruce Campbell got in some snaps at right guard with the first- and second-team offenses. Cooper Carlisle received the majority of the reps with the starting unit and remains the projected starter.
*Follow me on Twitter: @corkonthenfl