By Steve Corkran
Monday, October 24th, 2011 at 3:25 pm in Oakland Raiders.
It was darker than usual in the press room during coach Hue Jackson’s weekly news conference Monday, but that had everything to do with the lighting and nothing to do with a change in Jackson’s typical sunny disposition.
“No lights today?” Jackson asked. “Really dark in here today. Everybody think, all of a sudden it’s sorrow Monday or something? It’s not.”
No, Jackson said, it’s just the day after a bad loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and something that will be forgotten once the Raiders get through what he termed a transitional phase.
The biggest transition, of course, is weaving in quarterback Carson Palmer to an offense that performed well under Jason Campbell the first games but struggled under the guidance of Kyle Boller and Palmer on Sunday, with lead running back Darren McFadden sidelined for most of the game with a sprained right foot.
“Just a couple weeks ago, we were one of the better offenses in this league,” Jackson said, “and now all of a sudden, it’s like the wheels fell off. No, the wheels didn’t fall off. We didn’t all of a sudden become dumb on offense and not know what we’re doing. What we’re doing is we’re going through a transition period.”
Jackson said he is confident that the transition period won’t take long. Having two weeks before the next game certainly will help Palmer and the rest of the offense get up to speed.
Palmer arrived via trade with the Bengals last Tuesday. He played most of the second half Sunday despite participating in only three practices and memorizing about 10 percent of the playbook — his estimation, by the way.
“We’ve got to speed the process up as fast as we can,” Jackson said. “That’s pretty obvious, what needs to happen. How comfortable is he going to be? I can’t tell you he’s going to know them stone-cold by the time we play Denver, but he’ll have a better grasp of what this guy can do and what that guy can do based on situations because he’s going to have more practice time with those young men.”
Those young men would be the wide receivers. All who were interviewed Monday said they intend to stick around the Bay Area during their four days off during the bye week so that they can work with Palmer in an attempt to expedite the transition phase.
NO ON T.O.?
Veteran wide receiver Terrell Owens is scheduled to conduct a workout in Calabassas, Calif., on Tuesday. Media are invited to attend. So are NFL teams who are intersted in the services of a player with statistics worthy of induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Jackson said he was unaware of the workout. That doesn’t mean the Raiders won’t be there to kick the tires on Owens, to see if he might be able to upgrade the receiving corps.
“Our scouts go and see everybody work out,” Jackson said. “But I’m not actively chasing Terrell Owens, no.”
Jackson reportedly contacted Chad Ochocinco during training camp, when he was available via trade with the Cincinnati Bengals. So, why not Owens?
“I don’t know that he’s healthy yet,” Jackson said. “But anybody can improve the team. We’ve got to improve the team from inside out first. Now we have some pieces and now we just got to go re-piece this thing.”
CIRCUS NOT IN TOWN
There’s a widespread belief that the Raiders weren’t well prepared for the Chiefs on Sunday, in part because Jackson spent too much time toying with the idea of whether to start Palmer or Boller.
Nonsense, Jackson said. Quite the contrary.
“Our team practiced as well as we’ve practiced all year, this past week, and we went into the game and didn’t play that way,” Jackson said. “At the end of the day, a great practice only gives you an opportunity. You’ve got to go to the game and play really well.
“I don’t sense or feel that last week was so much about Carson. If it was, it wasn’t about me making it about Carson.”
MOORE HAS BEEN LESS
Rookie wide receiver Denarius Moore took the league by storm with a fast start this season. Suddenly, the player who looked immune to the pitfalls that tend to affect all rookies is looking like, well, a rookie.
“That’s a direct correlation to where we’ve been at quarterback lately,” Jackson said. “Once we get more stability there,” (things will be fine.) “The whole offense had kind of dropped off the last couple of weeks.”
Moore has 14 receptions for 212 yards and two touchdowns, as well as three rushes for 45 yards and a touchdown. Most of that came during Oakland’s first three games, though.
Perhaps another factor in Moore’s decline owes to the Raiders being 11 games into the season, including the four exhibition games. College players typically play 13 or 14 games, so this is about the time their bodies are accustomed to winding down.
“Players who were college players (last year) are looking at closing out and getting ready for bowl season,” Jackson said. “These guys are starting to exhale a little bit. We’re just now getting ready. Our football team is going to get ready to start playing again soon and getting better.”
Hence, the bye week comes at an ideal time for the rookies, as well as the injured players.
“This is a great time for some of these young guys,” Jackson said, “because we are playing quite a few of them. We need to continue to monitor that so that those guys can finish the season strong.”
Jackson said running back Darren McFadden has a mid-foot sprain. McFadden walked into the team facility on crutches Monday morning, with his right foot in a protective boot.
McFadden will undergo tests throughout the week to monitor the injury and determine how much time he needs to heal. Jackson said he planned to give McFadden plenty of rest this week anyway.
“I’m hoping to get him back soon,” Jackson said. “I know one thing, one of my plans for him was to get him some rest this week, to get him back up and get him fresh because, obviously, when Darren is rolling, he’s one of the best backs in this league. So, we need to get him healthy.”
BOLLER BETTER THAN EDWARDS
Jackson scoffed at the suggestion that Trent Edwards outperformed Boller during training camp and exhbition games and that Boller made the team at the behest of managing general partner Al Davis.
“I don’t think that Trent outplayed Kyle,” Jackson said. “It was the other way around. We kept the best player based on what we were doing and, if you looked at the numbers, Kyle had played better than Trent.”
Boller was intercepted three times against the Chiefs before he was replaced by Palmer early in the third quarter. Even so, Jackson said he still feels comfortable using Boller if the need arises.
“There’s no question in my mind,” Jackson said.
He added that the way things unfolded wasn’t all Boller’s fault. The play of the offensive line and the receivers goes into it, as well.
“It was unfortunate and … when you see interceptions, the first thing you think is it’s the quarterback all the way,” Jackson said. “But it’s more than one person. It’s an offensive unit. It’s not just Kyle Boller.”
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