By Steve Corkran
Monday, October 10th, 2011 at 12:24 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Coach Hue Jackson gave his players “victory Monday” for their effort in a come-from-behind, 25-20 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday. Even so, several players showed up anyway to talk about the events from the weekend.
Linebacker Bruce Davis II blocked a punt against the Texans that the Raiders parlayed into one of Sebastian Janikowski’s four field goals. Playing a pivotal role in the Raiders’ first game without managing general partner Al Davis carried added significance.
Davis II first met Al Davis when his father, Bruce, joined the Raiders in 1979 as an offensive tackle. Davis II was 2 at the time, he said.
“I don’t really remember it,” Davis II said. “There are a couple of pictures. When you’re that age, everybody is a new face and you kind of want to play with everybody. My family has pictures of it and really fond memeories of our time with Al. He’s going to be missed.”
When Davis II joined the Raiders early last season, he spoke with Mr. Davis.
“When I first got here, Al called me and the first thing he said was, ‘The last time I saw you, you were running around this facility knocking things over,’ ” Davis II said. “He’s been a part of my life and my family’s life. He gave two generations of Davis men the opportunity to live out our dreams and play football. Since I was a kid, I wanted to be a Raider. I grew up watching my dad. There’s nothing like that silver and black jersey.”
It wasn’t just Davis II that Mr. Davis had the book on. One of his endearing traits to players was his penchant for taking time to learn about a person before he introduced himself for the first time.
Safety Jerome Boyd learned about that trait when he joined the Raiders in 2009 as a practice-squad player.
“He used to come out to practices and say hi,” Boyd said. “I came in as a free agent, so I didn’t think he knew everything about me, but the first time I met him he went all the way back to my high school years. He knew about everything from my high school years till I came here for the first time. It was amazing for somebody to know everything about everybody.”
ANOTHER OIL CHANGE?
Cornerback Chris Johnson likened his groin surgery during training camp to nothing more than an “oil change.” So, what has he done to take care of the hamstring injury he suffered against the Denver Broncos and aggravated against New York Jets?
“Hamstrings happen all the time, when you’re dealing with receivers, corners, stuff like that,” Johnson said. “You’re always going to have a strain sometimes. You just have to deal with it and get by.”
Johnson said he intends to work on individual drills Wednesday and see where he’s at in terms of his recovery. There’s even a chance he will play Sunday against the Cleveland Browns.
Johnson has missed the past two games.
VIDEOTAPE STUDY PAYS OFF
Besides Davis II’s blocked punt and Janikowski’s four field goals, the Raiders turned the tide of the Texans game with another special teams gem.
This one came as a result of Rock Cartwright audibling out of a punt and into a fake, with Cartwright taking the direct snap from Jon Condo and rambling 35 yards for a first down.
“We had it last year, we had it this year,” Cartwright said. “We worked on it in practice a couple times. Same way it worked out in practice was the same way it worked out in the game.”
The Raiders were looking for a particular look from the Texans, Cartwright said. The alert was on earlier in the game, but Cartwright nixed the fake when he didn’t like what he saw from the Texans.
Finally, he liked what he saw and barked out the change with his cadence. Mike Mitchell was assigned to negate the lone defender on the edge.
“Mike Mitchell told me he would get the guy -– he was on the edge,” Cartwright said. “He did that. Give credit to him for allowing me to believe in him and in being accountable on his part. Overall, it was just a great team play, special teams play, and it turned out to be a big play for the Raiders.”
RAIDERS TOUCHED BY SUPPORT
When the Raiders returned to their year-round facility in Alameda on Sunday night, they were greeted by several hundred fans.
Davis II said he and others were touched by the show of support in light of their big victory and the passing of Davis.
“I was giving out hugs, kissing babies,” Davis II said. “It was great. When you have a fan base like that and they support you that much you just have to give back to them as much as we can. Just the few minutes of our time that we had to give to them they appreciated it so much and we appreciated them just as much.”
Rookie cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke said he was overwhelmed by the sign-holding, screaming fans who showed up long after the game ended.
“That was the first time I’ve ever seen that my whole life, probably 300, 400 fans,” Van Dyke said. “I feel like a rock star pretty much. It was crazy. They were showing support. I stayed a couple of hours with the fans talking to them. It was humbling.”
Players described a scene in which the parking lot was overflowing, making it impossible for them to drive away for quite some time. They didn’t mind, though.
“They all had signs for Al,” Davis II said. “They were all dressed up in silver and black. It was great to see that kind of support after the emotional weekend that we had. To have all those people that are fans of this franchise and supporters of Al and his family, to have them all there meant so much to us as players and, I’m sure the Davis family and this whole organization.”
MARK DAVIS’ ROLE
Much has been made about how the organization is going to function now that Mr. Davis has passed away. He had a hand in the organization for most of the past 49 years.
Davis’ son Mark, along with Davis’ widow, Carole, inherits the stake of the franchise that Davis held for so many years. However, it remains unclear how things are going to change, if at all, moving forward.
Johnson said he doesn’t expect anything to change, at least in the short term.
“No, not at all,” Johnson said. “If anything, it’s going to be like the same. I don’t think whoever takes over, whatever the case might be, they know how Mr. Davis was and how he wanted the organization ran, how the team ran. So, whoever does the hiring is going to be (follow) that guideline.”
As for the Raiders’ style of play that became so distintive under Davis?
“We’re still, as the silver and black, going to play the same type of ball, going to be the same team,” Johnson said. “It’s just the bottom line.”
Mitchell said he now sees Mark Davis in a different light.
“Now that Mark is I guess going to be the owner — I need to stop calling him Mark, Mr. Davis – now that he’s going to be taking over, as long as I’m here that I’m going to play my heart out for the rest of my career. It’s a life-changing thing.”
Mitchell said he is forever grateful to Mr. Davis for selecting him in the second round of the NFL draft.
“I’m just a guy from a small town in Kentucky who just loves playing football,” Mitchell said. “And for Mr. Davis to take a shot on me like that, I’ve got to pay it back to him. Somehow, someway, I’ve got to pay it back to him, and the only way I know how to pay it back to him is to bring a championship to him.”
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