By Steve Corkran
Tuesday, September 4th, 2012 at 1:44 pm in Oakland Raiders.
The good news for the Raiders? Wide receiver Jacoby Ford jogged today for the first time since he injured his left foot. The bad news? Ford has only five more days to go from jogging to getting up to full speed if he is going to play in the regular-season opener.
Hey, as Ford said, it’s progress. Ford spent most of the 17 days with his foot in a protective boot and undergoing intensive rehabilitation.
“Just kind of up in the air at this point,” Ford said, when asked if he thinks he can play Monday night. “I just have to see what the coaches and the training staff think.”
Ford said he is awaiting word from one of the Raiders doctors. The Raiders no doubt are taking the cautious approach, given Ford suffered a similar injury to the same spot on the same foot last season.
“Last time, it took awhile,” Ford said.
Ford hurt the foot against the San Diego Chargers on Nov. 10. He missed the next six games, though he was able to play in the season finale.
He said he intends to wear some orthotics in his left shoe as a means of relieving some of the pressure on the bottom of his foot.
– Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa might be down, but he is far from out.
The Raiders waived Chekwa last Friday in finalizing their 53-man roster. One day later, Chekwa was back with the Raiders, only this time as one of the eight members of their practice squad.
Yet, Chekwa is using the sudden turn of events as motivation for becoming a better player and finding his way back on to the 53-man roster.
“They see something in me to keep me around here,” Chekwa said. Also, I got the confidence in myself. My main focus is to keep working and continue to get better. I know I’ll get that shot and when I do, I hope to make the most of it.”
Chekwa did just that last season, when he started the fourth game of the season. Unfortunately for Chekwa, he suffered a serious hamstring injury — in game three — that ultimately necessitated him being placed on injured reserve and missed the rest of the season.
The injury cost Chekwa valuable practice time. When he returned this season, he was forced to abandon some of what he learned last season in favor of a new defensive scheme.
“Yeah, it’s an adjustment I have to make and you really got to get acclimated to it,” Chekwa said. “This team is a good team, it’s a team that’s ready to win ballgames. As long as I continue to grow, it gives me an opportunity to learn from the older guys and be able to jump in there when it’s time for me to go play.”
Chekwa said he has received words of encouragement from older players such as Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer about how to handle the change from going from a guy on the active roster to someone that needs to prove himself again.
– Middle linebacker Rolando McClain said rookie Miles Burris tends to get pretty fired up during games. To that end, McClain said that’s one of the few things he has to keep an eye on in regard to Burris.
Burris said he is conscious of keeping his emotions in check, though it’s sometimes easier said than done.
“It’s a fine line of trying not to get too amped so that there’s more nerves and you get more winded or whatever it is,” Burris said. “You’re kind of a different person when you get out on the field, wear your jersey with your teammates and it’s game day.”
– Punter Shane Lechler is embarking upon his first full regular season without late managing general partner Al Davis calling the shots.
Naturally, things are quite different around here than they were during Lechler’s first 12 seasons with the Raiders. In some respects, that’s a good thing.
“Tons of the gray area is gone,” Lechler said. “There are no kept secrets. It’s boom, boom, boom. What they say is what we do and that’s the way. I’m glad to be able to play under this circumstance now, because now I know. You know every day what you’re getting. It’s fun to have that kind of structure.”
Under Davis, everything was at his discretion. Sometimes, that meant players and coaches being unaware of certain things, until Davis issued word.
Now, there is a clear-cut chain of command, from owner Mark Davis to general manger Reggie McKenzie to coach Dennis Allen and so forth.
“We’re headed in a different but positive direction,” Lechler said. “As (everyone) can see, there’s been a lot of change, the most I’ve ever been around; every part of the building.
“It’s just one of those things, I guess an organization goes through when you go through what we went through, with losing Al and doing that stuff. We’re taking the proper steps and heading in the right direction. There are zero things to complain about. Everything has a reason, and you can see the reason.”
– Rookie guard Lucas Nix felt as if he played well enough to get drafted in the NFL. Naturally, he was disappointed when the call never came.
Through it all, he found solace in a phrase he heard from a friend’s father: “cream always rises.”
Nix took that to heart, signed with the Raiders and worked hard during the offseason and training camp in hopes of realizing his dream.
Last Friday, Nix learned that he had made the Raiders 53-man roster as a backup offensive lineman.
“He said, ‘Just because you didn’t get drafted, don’t think any less of your ability. Just because someone got drafted doesn’t mean they’re better than you. They saw something in them that they didn’t see in you,’ ” Nix said. “I came out here with that attitude and I worked hard. Fortunately I’m still on this team.”
Nix isn’t satisfied with just being on the roster. He is intent upon earning some playing time and making a name for himself before long.
“I have the ability to be a great player,” Nix said. “It’s just putting it on the field and letting everybody else see it. The biggest challenge for me coming here was learning the new offense and just being consistent on the field every day. That’s what they were looking for, and as camp went on I got gradually more consistent.”
– Rookie wide receiver Rod Streater is another player that went undrafted and later signed with the Raiders. Whereas Nix has to wait for playing time, Streater just might find himself in the starting lineup in his first NFL game.
Projected starter Denarius Moore and key backup Ford are questionable for the Chargers game Monday night, putting Streater in line to start opposite Darrius Heyward-Bey.
Streater is quick to point out that he isn’t taking anything for granted.
“It’s pretty amazing from going undrafted to getting here,” Streater said. “But, in the end, I still have to produce, continue to do my job, and continue to compete at a high level. I don’t want it to get to me and take my performance down.”
The Raiders have only five wide receivers on their roster. If Moore and Ford can’t play, Streater and fellow rookie Juron Criner can count on plenty of playing time right away.
With that in mind, Streater is doing everything he can to prepare for a starring role.
“Study with Carson (Palmer) every day and try to take in anything he has to offer, continue to work hard and study the plays so I can go out there and perform, so that I can do it,” Streater said.