With plenty of time before the next game and players in need of a break from the grind the past seven weeks, coach Hue Jackson kept Tuesday’s practice to an hour or so.
This session was more about quality than quantity. Get in, get the work done, work fast and get out.
“This was a regular season practice, but we always have the ability to do what we call 10-10-10,” Jackson said. “We have 10 plays and 10 plays and 10 plays, and it’s up-tempo, it’s fast and we go. But there’s still a lot of fundamental and technique things that we’re working on.”
Again, the focus is upon getting recently acquired quarterback Carson Palmer up to speed in the offense and in synch with his receivers before he starts against the Denver Broncos on Nov. 6.
Palmer received a ton of reps Tuesday, both in individual and full-squad drills. It’s imperative the Raiders get Palmer to the point where he’s knowledgable with the line protections, the playbook and the nuances of his teammates.
“Just to create some continuity now, with a new quarterback, his offensive teammates, those guys get to learn him, him get to learn them under the coaches’ watchful eye for a couple of days, then let them go do what they do for three or four days.”
Beginning Monday, the focus shifts to the Broncos.
At that point, it’s time to “clean up some fundamental things, offensively and defensively, that we needed to address here in the bye and keep getting better,” Jackson added.
Palmer said playing for most of the second half against the Chiefs is going to help him out a great deal down the road.
“There’s a lot more good than people outside this building would recognize that we’ll learn from and improve on and move on from,” Palmer said.
Not everyone welcomes the bye week. Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly said a bye week is the last thing he and his teammates need on the heels of a 28-0 loss to the Chiefs.
“I kind of wish the bye was two weeks from now,” Kelly said. “You want to get that bad taste out of your mouth. It’s kind of like a double-edged sword. You wish you could play a game this Sunday to make up for last week, but the rest comes at a good time, though.”
Fullback Marcel Reece spent the past month away from his teammates, working through an ankle injury that turned out to be more severe than initially suspected.
Reece missed four games during that time, and he also kept a low profile in terms of being available to the media. On Tuesday, Reece spoke for the first time since he suffered the injury against the New York Jets on Sept. 25.
He said he is 100 percent and hopeful of playing against the Denver Broncos on Nov. 6. Jackson will make the final call on whether Reece plays that day.
“Everything feels good,” Reece said. “I’m just excited to be back with my teammates.”
Reece practiced Tuesday and showed no lingering effects from his injury, which occurred when a player rolled up on Reece’s ankle.
“I always feel like I’m ready, but like coach Jackson says, he has to save me from myself often,” Reece said. “I’m just trusting in him and what he wants me to do right now and what I can and can’t do right now. Whether I’m able to go after the bye for Denver or not, just trying to stay positive about the whole situation and go when he wants me to go.”
If Reece returns in time for the Broncos game, it’s likely that the Raiders will release Manase Tonga and attempt to re-sign him to the practice squad.
MCFADDEN’S FOOT SOUND
Jackson said tests conducted on the right foot of running back Darren McFadden returned negative in terms of structural damage.
Now the plan is to give McFadden plenty of rest between now and the Broncos game in hopes of him getting healthy enough to play.
“What we’ll do is just move forward and see exactly where he is,” Jackson said. “Can he run? Can he not run? What’s going to be the diagnosis for his mid-foot sprain and let’s go from there.”
McFadden suffered his injury early in the game against the Chiefs on Sunday, and he was limited to two carries.
CAMPBELL ON THE MOVE
The Raiders envisioned second-year player Bruce Campbell as a starter this season. That went by the wayside when Campbell reported to training camp in Napa with a knee injury.
Ever since, Campbell has struggled making up for lost time, Jackson said. As a result, he no longer is pushing for a starting job at right guard.
In fact, Campbell now is being evaluated at offensive tackle, his natural position. Until now, Campbell had been used at guard, for the most part.
“You don’t get a chance to go to training camp and get caught up,” Jackson said. “So you’re behind and you find yourself always trying to catch up to the guy that’s taken every rep, and trying to compete with that guy. I still think for Bruce the sky is the limit. … He has a bright future.”
Missing a large chunk of training camp also has retarded the progress of wide receiver Louis Murphy, Jackson said.
Murphy missed most of training camp with hamstring and groin injuries. Midway through camp, he underwent surgery to repair the groin damage. He missed all four exhibition games, as well as the first five regular-season games.
He had four balls thrown his way against the Chiefs but finished without a reception for the second straight game.
Murphy said Monday that it takes a couple of games to get back into the swing of things. That time has passed. So, look for him to make great strides in the next game.
Jackson said defensive tackle Richard Seymour was given the day off so that he could “get right” in terms of healing from nagging injuries. Defensive tackle John Henderson got poked in the eye against the Chiefs, which necessitated Tuesday off.
Both players are expected to be healthy enough to play against the Broncos. Kicker Sebastian Janikowski (hamstring) also should be ready to go Nov. 6, Jackson said.
“He’s going to be back and ready to go,” Jackson said. “He’s not totally back yet, but I think he’s making his way back.”
He’s close enough that the Raiders felt comfortable in waiving Dave Rayner on Tuesday.
JACKSON HIGH ON CURRY
Outside linebacker Aaron Curry had all of one practice before Jackson threw Curry into a game. It has been a whirlwind ever since, but Curry and Jackson are thrilled with how things turned out.
“The first week I felt like, yeah, I can play in this defense,” Curry said. “The second week was more like, OK, I want to prove to my teammates that they can trust me, that I’m here to help the defense be successful and this is where I need to be. I’m happy to be here.”
Jackson engineered a trade for Curry with the Seattle Seahawks, thinking Curry could be of value to the Raiders if allowed to play one position and concentrate on what he does best.
“I’ve seen tremendous progress in him,” Jackson said. “This guy’s been one of the brighter spots on our defense. He’s done a good job. He brings an energy, a passion. He’s making plays. He’s around the ball, and he loves playing football.”
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