Raiders coach Hue Jackson wants his players to understand that they are here to win a Super Bowl title, period. And nothing is going to prevent Jackson from doing whatever it takes to make sure the team keeps moving toward that goal.
Trading for linebacker Aaron Curry and Carson Palmer, inserting Curry into the starting lineup and benching Quentin Groves and sacking Jerome Boyd should be taken as not-so-subtle reminders.
“What do you think?” Jackson said, when asked if he was sending a message. “No doubt. I told them, I am going to do everything I can -– the organization has backed me -– to give this team the best opportunity to win football games, and that’s all you can ask for.
“As a head coach, when you have ownership, Mark Davis, Amy Trask and the rest of this organization stand behind you and say, ‘Hey, look, whatever we think it takes to win, that’s what we’re going to do,’ and that’s what we’re doing. The players appreciate that because it gets no better than that. You come to work everyday knowing that you’re fighting for something. And we’re fighting for a championship.”
Players also are fighting for starting jobs, playing time and roster spots.
Campbell has been supplanted by Palmer, Groves now is a special-teams player and Boyd is looking for a new employer.
Veteran defensive tackle Richard Seymour said he and others understand how things work around here.
“This is a production business,” Seymour said. “Our job is to go out and produce and get better as a team, and we’re always evaluated year in and year out, from game to game. And the best players are going to play. And that’s what we’re always told, so I’m trying to do everything I can to make sure my job is safe.”
Making such bold moves has the players fired up, as well.
“It means we’re going for it, man,” strong safety Tyvon Branch said. “That shows the confidence they have in this team. When you get a team like this, you don’t want the opportunity to slip away.”
PALMER IMPRESSES IN DEBUT
Palmer practiced with his new teammates for the first time Wednesday. He said it’s going to take some time to shake off the rust, but his teammates already like what they see.
“He looked great,” wide receiver Chaz Schilens said. “That’s all there is to it, man.”
Palmer said it was nice being in an NFL setting again after spending the past nine months or so finding creative ways to stay in shape.
“Definitely rusty,” Palmer said. “Good to be back in it but definitely have some rust to wear off. I haven’t thrown to NFL receivers in awhile. Whether it’s been high school kids or my brother, I have had one NFL guy to throw to in T.J. Houshmandzadeh but, other than that, I haven’t thrown to guys that can run like this and lots of guys that can run like this in seven-on-seven situations and team situations, things like that.”
Receiver Jacoby Ford said it would be difficult for Palmer to start this Sunday. Even so, it’s only a matter of time before Palmer and the receivers are in synch.
“He looked good,” Ford said. “It’s just a matter of the timing. He has to get that down and get used to the offense and new receivers. Whenever we can do that, we’ll be clicking on all cylinders.”
Jackson dismissed reports about Palmer starting against the Chiefs on Sunday.
“You hear it come from me?” Jackson said. “It didn’t come from anybody over here. I know I never said that.”
Jackson said he will wait until Friday night before he determines whether Palmer is far enough along to start. Palmer hasn’t played in a game of any kind since Jan. 2.
Receiver Derek Hagan, perhaps, is best qualified to pass judgment on the status of Palmer, given they spent some time together during the lockout.
“Carson looked great,” Hagan said. “Obviously, the same Carson I’ve been working with throughout the summer. We had a few throwing sessions out in L.A. He looks the same. He’s putting the ball right on the money. Obviously that’s something we’re looking forward to.”
BOLLER TAKES PALMER ADDITION IN STRIDE
Kyle Boller handled the trade for Palmer in a classy manner, as expected. He and Palmer are long-time friends who played against each other in college and entered the NFL the same season.
“That’s football,” Boller said. “Obviously, Carson’s a great player. He’s a guy that’s proven himself. All I can do is what I can control. And that’s come to work and be the best player that I can be. Like I said, I’m glad to have him. He’s a
great player, and you want to get as many great guys on the team as you can.”
Jackson said Boller took the news the way he expected.
“He’s awesome, he’s a pro,” Jackson said.
Not that Jackson cares.
“Honestly, I don’t worry about that, because my players exactly why I’m doing what I’m doing,” Jackson said. “I don’t mince for words, I don’t pull any punches. I’m not sliding a guy in when nobody knows. It is what it is. It’s about the team. It’s about the winning. It’s about being the best we can be and I don’t think anybody runs from it.”
SURGERY FOR SHAUGHNESSY
The Raiders placed defensive end Matt Shaughnessy on the injured-reserve list Wednesday morning because Shaughnessy’s shoulder wasn’t healing as hoped.
The next step is surgery. Jackson said Shaughnessy will have shoulder surgery in the near future. Shaughnessy suffered the injury against the Jets on Sept. 25.
“We went as far as we could go until we had to make that decision,” Jackson said. “It just wasn’t getting any better. We lost a really good football player. We’ll continue and we’ll rally up. Next man up. The next man’s been up for a few weeks.”
That next man up is Desmond Bryant, who has started the past two games. Jarvis Moss and Trevor Scott also are getting added playing time in Shaughnessy’s absence.
Fellow end Trevor Scott missed the tail end of last season because of a torn knee ligament. He said it’s easy to sympathize with what Shaughnessy is going through these days.
“The biggest thing is to stay as positive as you can,” Scott said. “It’s a crappy situation, but it is part of the game, it does happen, and he’s just got to look forward to getting a great rehab and coming back strong.”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“I thought we were going to get (David) Garrard, but we got Palmer, so, hey, man, can’t do nothing but be happy.” — Raiders defensive tackle Tommy Kelly on what he thought of the Palmer trade
INJURED PLAYERS UPDATE
Here’s coach Jackson’s rundown of the injured players from practice today:
“Satele limited; Cartwright DNP; Reece DNP; Gordon limited; Myers full; Jason Campbell DNP; McClain DNP; Chekwa DNP; Huff limited; Johnson DNP; so, again we’ve got some medical things that we’ve got to continue to take care.”
SYMPATHY FOR CAMPBELL
Campbell still is recovering from surgery Monday to repair his broken right collarbone. He might not be around the facility right now but he isn’t forgotten by his teammates.
“Sheez, man, I feel so bad,” right offensive tackle Khalif Barnes said. “I feel terrible for that kid. He’s had some tough years in Washington, he finally came in here last year, him and Hue got to jell together, they had a great year last year, and he looked like he was going to have a pretty good season this year.
“He was throwing the ball excellent, having a Pro Bowl-caliber year. I can only think about one or two mistakes that the guy made in eight weeks. So, he was playing lights out ball. You hate to see anyone get hurt but especially a guy that’s a good guy. He just comes in and does his work. He’s been patiently waiting. I feel real bad for the kid, man.”
Seymour called Campbell’s injury against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday unfortunate.
“We all have a lot of respect for Jason, in terms of what he brought to the table and being a leader and getting guys together in the offseason and being on the same page and going out and playing well for us,” Seymour said. “But other guys have to, since he’s down now and not here, someone has to step up in his position and take on that responsibility.”
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