Some more news, notes and observations now that print deadlines are met:
– Was Hue Jackson admitting he got a little conservative in his fourth-quarter play calling as the Raiders stretched their streak to 85 minutes without a touchdown in the game-deciding quarter?
You be the judge.
“It starts with me. I have to, as the primary play-caller, and the emotional leader of this team, make sure I’m on my `A’ game at all times. I’m not saying I’m not, but I have to go back and at halftime as I address them about making sure they finish, and coach Jackson has to make sure he finishes.”
Jackson went on to add that the Raiders would have scored in the fourth quarter had it not been for a blocked field goal attempt _ “Are you kidding me? Somebody doesn’t want us to score in the fourth quarter” _ and said the problem wasn’t for lack of effort.”
He also said, correctly, that some of these fourth quarters have included some very big plays by the offense that got key first downs and changed field positions to help the defense.
– Until Darren McFadden is spotted on the field, it’s hard to take seriously that he’ll be ready to play in a game. Jackson went out of his way to say McFadden doesn’t have some kind of hidden injury, that he simply wants him to be at 100 percent.
As frustrating as that is, anyone who watched McFadden as he tried to play through injuries as a rookie and in Year 2 would be hard-pressed not to agree.
“I don’t want a 70 percent Darren McFadden,” Jackson said. “I think that’s unfair to the player and unfair to the football team.”
– Through 10 games, it’s pretty clear Tyvon Branch is on the way to becoming the player Jackson said he is. Always a fabulous special teams player _ Shane Lechler was raving about Branch when he was a a rookie _ it’s clear he has stepped up to another level on the defensive side.
“I said before the season I thought he’d be one of the breakout players in the NFL,” Jackson said. “I don’t think he gets enough credit because he plays really well for us week in and week out. He plays every snap for us, doesn’t complain, he loves to play, he loves to be involved in tackling and pass defending and all that. I think he’s doing a great job.”
– About those quarterback sneaks with Carson Palmer . . .
“We got a big, ol’ 6-foot-5 235-pound quarterback. Why not just let him go instead of reversing pivot and handing to someone deep?,” Jackson said. “Plus, he told me he’s one of the best in the world at quarterback sneaks. That’s what he told me. I said let’s find out. I kind of jumped him for not making it the first time and making me look kind of dumb there.
“He knows how to get his pads low, we know how to get the ball in there. I think that was the easiest call I made all day, truth be told.”
– Jared Veldheer’s signature performance came with the help of some teammates. The Raiders ran some first-team defenders at Veldheer in practice to simulate Jared Allen’s skills, including Trevor Scott and Lamarr Houston.
“He’s what a Raider is., what a great Raider is truly all about,” Jackson said. “He went out there with a plan. Great credit to his coaches. They prepared him; they watched a lot of tape. We gave him some great looks in practice. And he went out there and got it done. That’s what pro football is all about. You play the best, and when you’re able to hold your own, you start to realize you’re starting to become something.”
Even better for Veldheer _ he had lots of friends and family from the Grand Rapids. Mich., area at the game. Veldheer will no doubt shrug this one off and start to prepare for the Bears and Julius Peppers, but his family deserves to bask in this one for a few days. Veldheer told reporters Monday he’d be back in a few minutes but strategically made sure he didn’t re-enter the locker room until the media was excused.
Typical offensive lineman, uncomfortable with getting credit. Would rather be a grunt than a star, if even for a day.
Met Veldheer’s parents during training camp on a couple of occasions and I know they check out the Web site and blog.
Bask in this one, mom and dad. It doesn’t get much better.