Spent the better part of the day working on the Chester McGlockton obituary for the paper. Thanks for your patience and understanding, and may God bless McGlockton, his wife Zina and two daughters.
With that said, here are some tidbits from today’s proceedings, the first full practice for the Raiders in preparation for their game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.
INJURY LIST NOT SHRINKING
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski is back on the injury report, joining the list of usual occupants. Coach Hue Jackson doesn’t seem too concerned about Janikowski’s left hamstring.
Why should he? Janikowski is fresh from a game in which he set a franchise record by converting all six of his field-goal attempts against the Chicago Bears in a 25-20 victory and being named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week.
“Maybe he kicked too many field goals,” Jackson said. “You never know. He did an excellent job. Hopefully we’ll get him back out here soon. He’ll be fine. I told you, I’m always going to be cautious with these players. We got some big games down the stretch here.”
Add wide receiver Denarius Moore and defensive end Jarvis Moss to the long list of players who missed practice but weren’t mentioned in an earlier post.
Moore was in full uniform at practice this morning. However, he was deemed not healthy enough to participate, Jackson said. Moss still is recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered against the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 20.
For the record, it’s an ankle that is botherin Moore and not his foot, as Jackson initially reported. Hey, cut Jackson some slack trying to keep track of all the injuries and their corresponding body parts.
Moore said he was on the field Wednesday on a fact-finding misson.
“It was just to really see where I was standing at, as far as this week,” Moore said. “And so we’re still taking it day by day, see how it’s going to go.”
T.J. Houshmandzadeh fielded punts in Moore’s absence.
LOCKER ROOM SCENE
Curious what it was like in the Raiders locker room after they beat the Bears? Here’s a snippet from Jackson singlin out Janikowski and Shane Lechler for their heroics.
Jackson: “We all know they’re the highest-paid kickers in football, But listen to me, listen to me. Truth be told, guys, here’s the deal: the last time this place was 7-4, these two men were here (Janikowski says under his breath, “That’s a long time).” These two men were here and these two guys, today, helped this team get to where (it) needed to be.”
Lechler: “It’s a good deal to be 7-4. Everybody’s happy, but guess what — we’ve got a lot of football to play, men. We’ve got a whole lot of football to play. Some tough games coming up. Let’s keep on the grind. I’m telling you, we’ve got keep on the grind. If you want to keep this feeling, keep grinding…”
Quarterback Carson Palmer said he can’t recall a punter being asked to address the team after a victory. Then again, he added, Lechler is unlike any other punter in the league.
“No, there might not be another one in the league,” Palmer said. “He’s definitely the best punter in the league, but as far as a teammate, a leader, a veteran, a professional, he does everything right. He says the right things. He doesn’t act like a kicker. I wouldn’t put him in that mold. He is just a great teammate.”
Veteran defensive tackle Richard Seymour played for a New England Patriots team that held kicker Adam Vinatieri in high regard.
Seymour said he and his Raiders teammates feel the same way toward Lechler and Janikowski, in large part because they walk the walk.
“Well, obviously, with him being the best punter in the league, that helps,” Seymour said. “Guys listen to guys who get it done. And he’s a combination of both, where he’s a veteran leader and also he’s a great player.”
FOURTH-QUARTER BLUES FELT BY ALL
Palmer wasn’t even with the Raiders when their five-game scoring drought in the fourth quarter started. Yet, he was just as aware of the the ignominious streak.
“I was definitely aware of it,” Palmer said of a streak that ended when running back Michael Bush scored a 3-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter against the Bears. “Especially in that game, we needed that score. But we need more, and we need to find ways to generate more points in the red zone, but also just in the fourth quarter in general.
“At this point in the year, especially with some of the games we have coming up, we have to generate more points in the second half.”
JOHNSON MIGHT PLAY SUNDAY
Cornerback Chris Johnson showed progress by returning to practice last week and being active against the Bears. However, he failed to set foot on the field once the game started.
“He just wanted me to put the pads back on, just in case,” Johnson said of coach Jackson. “I was the emergency guy last week. I just went along with what coach wanted me to do.”
“I’m getting back in the mix this week,” Johnson said.
CLOSE GAMES A BENEFIT FOR RAIDERS
None of the Raiders seven victories has been by more than 10 points and the difference in those games is only 43 points.
Jackson said the short-term pain of battling through so many tension-filled games will benefit the Raiders in the long run.
“It’s very important because, as you go down the stretch here these games are going to be close, going to be tough,” Jackson said. “We all wish we had those blowouts where you’re sitting in the fourth quarter smiling. But that’s not the way it is in the NFL. Hopefully we’ll have one here soon at some point in time.”
The other benefit is that close games are the kind of affairs that build confidence and character. Jackson said. Maybe so, he added, but it still would be nice to be a part of a laugher.
“Nothing is going to be given to us,” Jackson said. “We understand that. We know it’s going to be tough. This team kind of likes it that way. I don’t like it that way. They’re OK with it as long as it (leads to) wins and wins.”
BUSH HOLDING UP WELL
Bush has averaged 28 carries the past three games as he absorbs the workload in Darren McFadden’s absence. You would be hard pressed to know Bush has been used so much, though.
“He’s been awesome,” Jackson said. “I’ve been around guys that carry the ball like that and then they come to Wednesday practice and they can’t move. Regardless of whether you gave them victory Monday off or not, because physically, it’s tough. He hasn’t batted an eye.”
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