By Steve Corkran
Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011 at 7:47 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Quarterback Terrelle Pryor says he’s eager to get on a plane to Oakland so that he can begin his Raiders career. He wouldn’t have wanted any part of practice Tuesday, unless he enjoys stifling heat and bodies banging against each other.
On the flipside, Raiders coach Hue Jackson can’t get enough of the heat. He welcomed the 100-degrees or so weather and the added pressure it placed upon his players as they steam toward an exhibition game against the New Orleans Saints and inch closer to the regular-season opener.
“I’m not,” Jackson said. “It was very good. Can we get it like this every day? I like it when it’s hot and tough because that’s when you have to grind the most. And that’s what this league is all about.”
Running back Darren McFadden laughed about teammates complaining about the heat.
“Yeah, a lot of guys were saying it was hot today,” McFadden said, ”but it’s one of those things, I’m telling them this is not anything at all. There’s nothing compared to Arkansas heat.”
*Linebacker Travis Goethel appeared on the practice field afterward, with his left leg wrapped from toe to thigh and walking with the aid of crutches.
He learned Tuesday that the left knee he injured is going to require surgery and likely force him to miss the entire season.
When asked about the prospect of signing former Raiders middle linebacker Kirk Morrison or former Seattle Seahawks middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, Jackson said:
“Every name that’s out there is” a possibility,” Jackson. “At this particular point in time if a guy can help the Raiders win, win the AFC West and continue toward our goals then we’re going to look at him. I don’t think we’ll shy away from anybody if they can help us.”
*Second-year guard Bruce Campbell had a mighty impressive showing at practice, working mostly with the second team at right guard.
On several occasions, Campbell manhandled a defender and cleared a huge hole for the running back. It was enough to warrant another mention from Jackson afterward about the progress he is making.
Jackson said he is getting closer to settling upon the starting five for the offenive line. It’s apparent that Campbell is in the mix, despite missing the first two weeks or so of camp with a sore right knee.
*”You lost a step, baby?” That’s what free safety Michael Huff asked running back Darren McFadden as a long pass sailed over McFadden’s head, with Huff running stride for stride. The two laughed it off and jogged back to the huddle. Just Huff being Huff.
*Touching moment midway through practice, when a lady watching practice collapsed, presumably from heat exhaustion.
Jackson broke away from overseeing practice, jogged over to the lady and checked on her condidtion. Can’t imagine Bill Parcells doing that.
A Raiders trainer tended to the lady and made sure she was all right. Jackson posed for pictures with the lady and her group and signed autographs afterward.
*Punters and kickers have it easy during trainin camp. Oftentimes, they find creative ways to amuse themselves while their teammates are pounding against each other.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t prepared for the regular-season and don’t make the most of their limited opportunities.
Punter Shane Lechler boomed punt after punt during one drill. One of his punts traveled 80 yards or so in the air before returner Nick Miller reached it in a dead sprint toward his own goal line.
*Miller and Denarius Moore split the reps on punt return once again. As usual, Moore found a way to impress fans, coaches and teammates with his grace and athleticism.
Moore fielded a punt, took one step, stopped and switched directions as Chimdi Chekwa swiped at air and fell on his backside.
Moore also made a couple of impressive catches on balls that weren’t on the mark. His impressive showing was marred by a rare drop, even though the pass was high and he had to reach for it well above his head.
That’s a sign of how good he has been in camp, when he is expected to catch balls that are difficult plays for most other receivers.
*Jason Campbell learned under the guidance of veterans Mark Brunell and Todd Collins when he was a young quarterback with the Washington Redskins. He said he intends to extend the same courtesy to Pryor upon his arrival.
“You always support a guy because he’s a teammate,” Campbell said. We’re all in this thing for one common goal, and that’s to win. You don’t know what we’re going to do with him. We may use wildcat, we may use him to do different things. Your imagination as an offense only goes as far as you think.”
The fact Pryor has missed almost four weeks of training camp and two exhibition games is going to make it that much more difficult for Pryor to get up to speed. Pryor also is facing a five-game suspension at the start of the season.
“He’s already got, what, a suspension he has to go through,” Campbell said. “And he’s already missed pretty much all of training camp, we end camp this week. So there’s a lot of important information he’s missed out on. I think he can really learn a lot in his time and go from there.”
Jackson said he expects Pryor under contract and in uniform by the end of the week.
*Won’t steal too much of colleague Jerry McDonald’s thunder, given he is writing a feature on McFadden for tomorrow’s paper. However, it’s worth pointing out an anecdote from one of the first times Jackson met McFadden during the 2010 offseason.
Jackson crossed paths with McFadden in the weight room in Alameda and asked him about why he struggled his first two seasons with the Raiders.
We’ll let Jackson take it from here.
“I asked Darren, I said, ‘What is it that you like to run? You were a Heisman Trophy finalist. What was it that put you in that group of people?’ ” Jackson said. “And he said, ‘Coach, I’m used to running a certain type of run.’ And I go, ‘Well, why don’t we run them here?’ He said, ‘It’s not our style.’ And I go, ‘Well, what do you like to run?’
“And he rattled off about three or four runs that he really enjoys, and I said, ‘OK, they’re in.’ And he looked at me and said, ‘No way.’ He said, ‘Oh, no, they’re not.’ I go, ‘Yes, they are.’ And that’s what we did. And 1,157 yards later, that’s who Darren McFadden is.”
McFadden recalled the exchange and said he is grateful.
“I feel like every running back has certain plays and things they feel more comfortable running,” McFadden said. “It was one of those deals, he asked me what runs do I prefer and we talked about it and I let him know, and a lot of the runs he tried to put in for me.”
That’s the exact approach Jackson and offensive coordinator Al Saunders are taking with all their players, especially third-year receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.
They want to identify the things players do well, highlight them and turn them loose that way.
“I don’t try to ask a player to something that he can’t do because, what good does that do as a coach?” Jackson said. “What good does that do for the player? It’s truly about the player. Find out what they can do and let them do that.”
*Sixteen players missed practice, including middle linebacker Rolando McClain, safety Mike Mitchell, tight ends Kevin Boss and David Ausberry, defensive tackle John Henderson, receivers Chaz Schilens and Louis Murphy and guard Daniel Loper.
Jackson said he gave McClain the day off and that he is fine.
*Jason Campbell’s fiancee lives on the East Coast. He said she experienced the 5.9 earthquake that rattled the region Tuesday.
“I haven’t had a chance to talk to them,” Campbell said. “I talked to her sparingly today. She was like, ‘Everybody was caught off guard.’ In D.C,, you hear something like that, you probably think, ‘OK, terrorist attack or something.’ “