More Monday thoughts . . .

OK, I realize I’m lagging a little behind in subbing for Steve today, but a few thoughts on today’s news at Raiders headquarters:

— Got a kick out of Hue Jackson still refusing to completely concede that he’d made the wrong call on fourth-and-1 at the Cleveland 5-yard line with 4:49 left.

A point-blank Sebastian Janikowski field goal ends it. It’s 27-10 and three scores ahead. They don’t get it. Cleveland actually gets in position to tie the game.

Jackson said all the right things about the criticism, conceded he was wondering about everything he’d brought down upon his team after the Browns recovered the onsides kick. But he certainly never said he wouldn’t do it again. In fact, at the end, he said he would.

“The game would have been over. There’s no question about it,” Jackson said. “If we had kicked a field goal, you wouldn’t be asking me right now. If we made the touchdown we wouldn’t be asking me about this either.”

Jackson went over every reason why it was a bad idea, but at the end, when asked point blank if he’d kick it in the same situation the next time, he said, “Probably not. Knowing me, probably not.”

Buckle up, Raider fans. This could be a fun ride.

— Almost without notice, because the Raiders substitute so much, Desmond Bryant has been the starting right end in place of Matt Shaughnessy for the past two games. Jarvis Moss is introduced as the starter, then Bryant comes in. Makes sense, really, Bryant is bigger and therefore a more stout presence against the run.

“I think I’ve definitely been developing as a defensive end,” Bryant said. “I’ve already been able to play tackle. I’ve been developing there, too, but I’ve become more well-rounded. I think that’s good for me.”

Good for the Raiders as well. Their defensive line rotation and versatility could be a huge factor over the course of a 16-game season because a lot of players can play in different spots.

Still sounds, by the way, that Shaughnessy is going to be out awhile. Unfortunate for the Raiders, because he had the look of a defensive end who could be something special. Still might be.

When asked about injured players, Jackson said fullback Marcel Reece was “close.” He said the same about Shaughnessy, then corrected himself.

“I shouldn’t say close,” Jackson said. “That could be a little ways away.”

The cynic in me says that means at least a month.

— Quarterback Jason Campbell is a class act. I was out talking on the phone near the players’ exit and saw him getting into a car driven by his fiancee. I fully expected the SUV to go right on past without so much as a wave. The car stopped. Campbell rolled down the window and told me he was headed for surgery, hoped to be be back in six weeks and that he was optimistic. I didn’t have a notebook out at the time, so I wasn’t sure if it was on the record or not. It was OK to pass along, but he wanted it told to other media members as well.

Here’s a guy who gets it. He understands the media is the conduit for information, not necessarily an adversarial relationship. Selfishly, it’s hard not to pull for Jason Campbell.

— Jackson’s explanation of how he goes forward with decisions without Al Davis:

“I talk to Mark (Davis). I talk to Amy (Trask). Those are my two people I spend a lot of time talking to because they’ve been here and they’re people I know the most. Then I pray. I pray hard to make the right decision. I ask for guidance and wisdom . . .I’m not doing anything without Mark Davis and I’m not doing anything without Amy Trask not knowing.”

— Asked Jackson about the increased amount of blitzing the last couple of weeks. Some services who chart this stuff had the Raiders in the 20 percent range entering the Houston game, increasing to the mid-40s against the Texans. The Cleveland game brought more blitzes than any game in recent memory.

“I think that’s pretty specific to our players,” Jackson said. “The things we do is try to put these young men in position to have success. We have some tremendous blitzers. Michael Huff can come off the edge . . .Tyvon Branch, I mean, these guys can come. We’re putting guys in position to do what they do well.”


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer