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Raiders tight end Brian Leonhardt is getting work with the first team and on first-name basis with OC Greg Olson

Filed for print with extra notes . . .
Brian Leonhardt has come so far he is finally on a first-name basis with offensive coordinator Greg Olson.

Until last week Olson called called Leonhardt “Bemidji’’ in reference to his having attended Bemidji State University in Minnesota. Other times it was “Bemeedge,’’ which is a mispronunciation although Leonhardt conceded, “I’m not in any position to correct him.’’

With Leonhardt thrust into getting work with the first team offense at tight end because David Ausberry’s knee injury and a lack of experience at the position, Olson actually dropped a “Brian’’ on him during a meeting.

“I think it was the first time he used my actual name,’’ Leonhardt said.

The Raiders are looking for an in-line tight end to pair with Mychal Rivera, who is listed as a tight end but more often than not is flexed outside, lines up in the backfield or goes in motion.

Leonhardt caught three passes during practice Sunday, and in three seasons at Division Bemidji State caught 112 passes for 1,431 yards and 15 touchdowns. Still, he is clear on his role.

“I was the leading receiver in three of my four years in college, but my strength was always blocking,’’ Leonhardt said. “In high school we ran a split-back veer and all I did was block.’’

Jeron Mastrud, who played in all 16 games for the Raiders last season as the in-line tight end and started 12, had only eight catches for 88 yards.

The Raiders waived Leonhardt last year following training camp but signed him to the practice squad, where he remained all season.

“I’ve seen constant improvement from him every day,’’ Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. “From his first day here, to now, I mean’s he’s grown by leaps and bounds. You see it all the time, guys that come out of nowhere and end up being good players for you. It’s really a testament to his perseverance and work ethic.’’

With two preseason games to play and the Raiders having the ability to look for a veteran tight end before the cutdown to 53-men, Leonhardt is not looking too far ahead, imagining himself on the field Sept. 7 against the New York Jets.

“I’m trying to do everything I can each day to get better,’’ Leonhardt said. “What I’m happy about is the things I wanted to improve on after the first preseason game were better in the second one.’’

– Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa (knee) missed practice and Allen said he hoped to have him back before the start of the regular season. Cornerback and special teams player Taiwan Jones, who also sat out, is “banged up’’ according to Allen.

Quarterback Derek Carr, defensive tackle Justin Ellis and defensive tackle Matt McCants sat out while recovering from concussions. Wide receiver Juron Criner is out with a hip injury. Fullback Marcel Reece left practice with a foot injury of undetermined severity.

– Allen wasn’t reading too much into starting slowly against the pass against both Minnesota and Detroit, but free safety Charles Woodson conceded it was at least cause for mild concern.

“You’ve got to read into it a little bit,’’ Woodson said. “We started those games slow and allowed teams to go down the field and put up points . . . we’re not circling the wagons or anything like that. We’ll be all right.’’

Woodson also wasn’t pushing the panic button on rookie strong side linebacker Khalil Mack, who didn’t get into the defensive stats until playing against reserves in the third quarter against Detroit and had a relatively quiet opener against Minnesota. Woodson says he hasn’t felt the need to take Mack aside since he experienced similar expectations as the no. 4 overall pick in 1998.

“I’ll have a chance to talk to him about that, it’s still early,” Woodson said. “It’s still training camp and he’s got a lot on his plate. Not just from the standpoint of being a high draft pick and everybody expecting that `wow’ factor out of him, but as far as knowing the plays, knowing the different positions, there’s a lot expected of him in that sense too.

“So you just allow him to grow as a player, as far as coming in and getting ready for his first pro season. I think this guy is going to be OK. I think the sky is the limit for him. We’ll have chances to talk throughout the season.”

– With Carr sitting out practice, Trent Edwards actually got some reps in practice. on one play, he found a wide open Andre Holmes for a touchdown. Holmes was so open there wasn’t a defender within 20 yards of him in any direction.

– Quarterback Matt Schaub made some tight throws in traffic, but also had one interception which was tipped by Woodson to TJ Carrie and another over the middle that went directly to strong safety Tyvon Branch in the middle of the field.

“I thought Matt was fine. There’s still some things that we’re trying to work on in the passing game,” Allen said. “There wree some really good plays and there were some plays that weren’t quite as good. We’re going to continue to work, we’re going to continue to get better. Matt Schaub’s our starting quarterback and I think he’s doing a god job for us and I think he will do a good job for us.”

– The Raiders signed undrafted free agent tight end Kyle Auffray and waived backup place kicker Kevin Goessling.

– General manager Reggie McKenzie accepted the “ice bucket challenge’’ to raise money for ALS after being challenged by Denver Broncos president John Elway. Wide receiver Andre Holmes and fullback Jamize Olawale did the honors, dumping a bucket of ice over the head of their boss.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • Return

    First?
    Had to just try it.

  • The Machine

    So do you feel any different?

  • The Machine

    “I thought Matt was fine. There’s still some things that we’re trying to
    work on in the passing game,” Allen said. “There wree some really good
    plays and there were some plays that weren’t quite as good. We’re going
    to continue to work, we’re going to continue to get better. Matt
    Schaub’s our starting quarterback and I think he’s doing a god job for
    us and I think he will do a good job for us.”

  • Alex7

    you wonder what other teams’ practices look like regarding the #1 O vs #1 D.

    If the reports were that Schaub was having his way vs the defense throughout camps and practices, wouldn’t that be a huge red flag regarding our defense? You also wonder if these are pass-heavy parts of practice where the defense isn’t thinking about stopping the run, or if it’s just live scrimmaging.

  • _Mista_

    This needs to stop happening.
    _______

    Holmes was so open there wasn’t a defender within 20 yards of him in any direction.

  • Return

    I’m hoping that was due to 2nd’s and 3rd’s miscommunicating

  • Alex7

    that’s the funny question. Do you want to read that QBs, including Schaub, struggled because of sticky coverage left and right, or that the play-calling and talent created TDs, even easy ones, once in a while?

  • _Mista_

    Im taking Pam Oliver to McD’s friday night.

  • R8drTahoe in SF

    That’s what was happening in the preseason games against the Raiders.

  • _Mista_

    Can there be something between open by 20 yards and tight coverage ball batted down?

  • _Mista_

    Nothing gets by you!

  • raidercane

    Jelly-is anybody else concerned this guy hasn’t been cleared yet from that concussion against the vikes. Was curious what he could bring to the line

  • TrevJo

    “Trent Edwards actually got some reps in practice. on one play, he found a wide open Andre Holmes for a touchdown. Holmes was so open there wasn’t a defender within 20 yards of him in any direction.”

    20 yards open in practice is far more bad than good even if it were Stabler throwing to Branch

  • _Mista_

    Not out of the ordinary for a concussion I dont think.

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    We will know first game if anything has changed from last year, I’ll know right away

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    Fat jelly moving forward on a mission

  • marks hair

    the ice bucket challenge doesn’t actually cure cancer.. how about the networks donate 5000 dollars to cancer research instead of showing the stupid ice bucket challenge.. That would be about a million dollar donation a day for each station

  • disqus_yeZNegncsV

    “Hope” to have Chekwa back before the start of the season? That’s reassuring, LOL.
    As much as our secondary needs practice, it looks like it ain’ta gonna happen.

  • Blackholepriest

    You mean everything they’ve do e to date doesn’t tell you anything?

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    They have a cure, why would they stop making all that jack

  • disqus_yeZNegncsV

    Yes. Some concussion symptoms come back for weeks and weeks. Even months.

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    Tells me everything , it’s still 11 on 11 , Mano e Mano , I just want to see something different from the first snap in NY , on both sides of our line, if there using the it’s preseason platform , that’s ok , but I will know after the 1st if their still blowing smoke up our

  • r8ter4evr

    Sinister
    You are spot on
    Cure it no more MEDS
    Treat it unlimited MEDS
    Evil greedy world we live in
    My Mother died of Cancer and I believe this

  • Gdog

    “I thought Matt was fine. There’s still some things that we’re trying to
    work on in the passing game,” Allen said. “There wree some really good
    plays and there were some plays that weren’t quite as good. We’re going
    to continue to work, we’re going to continue to get better. Matt
    Schaub’s our starting quarterback and I think he’s doing a god job for
    us and I think he will do a good job for us.”

    …..

    Its OK to criticize your players DA.

  • The Big Banana

    There’s a cure already out there, just not recognized by the establishment (pharm industry).

    Ever stop to think just how much money changes hands in the name of ‘cancer research’? You’re just funding big pharma. They thank you for your money.

  • The Big Banana

    So sorry for your loss. It’s a tragedy that they keep innocent people in the dark and prey on them.

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    Ganga cures cancer , but ignorant people want to put things in their lungs that are not supposed to be there, what’s sad is their only getting roughly 10 % of the benefit , eat it instead , it cures more than just cancer

  • 0ak R8rs

    This team is a FCKING disaster. I’ve seen it before. And it’s always the same result. There will be no optimism here until our first regular season win. Assuming that win comes in the first two weeks, that is. If not, fck it all. We r done. Such a disappointment. Ranked 32nd by most experts. They may be right.

  • RediaR

    Kidnapping is not okay.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Isn’t it for ALS? Didn’t think that was cancer.

  • FourMoreYears

    Last coach that did that got run out of town.

  • The Big Banana

    Whoa, is this really 0ak? Aren’t you usually a bit more optimistic? Or did I miss the sarcasm font?

  • 0ak R8rs

    Not really. It’s been 9 days. Pryor was out a full two weeks I believe last year.

  • FourMoreYears

    No. Just…no.

  • https://twitter.com/MimiPeepeechimi Just Fire Baby

    Hayden has an injury history, so does Chekwa. Rogers and Brown are old, and on one year deals.
    Reggie’s philosophy of mixing old veterans on one year deals, with young injury prone DB’s has provided the same damn thing for 3 years.
    Shat on a shiskabob

  • FourMoreYears

    Optimism abounds.

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    My mom is a twice cancer survivor, I don’t know how she survived two rounds of poison , took a huge toll on her , I pray your mom’s soul peace

  • 0ak R8rs

    Yea. No sarcasm font. We may finally have some building blocks. But this year is a mess already. DBs suck beyond belief. Haydone is done. WRs can’t catch. Leonhart is a starter. Schaubs arm might be shot. Mack has done NOTHING. If it looks like sht, and it smells like sht, then it’s probably sht.

  • http://cosmicdanceband.com/ SilverandBlack666

    I have to agree. We have seen this movie before and it doesn’t end well.

  • http://AdvoCare.com/ Till death do us part

    Oh yea

  • https://twitter.com/MimiPeepeechimi Just Fire Baby

    It’s a thing for all charities, here in ABQ they did it to raise funds for a kid facing all kinds of health costs.
    This most recent wave nationally is for ALS.

  • FourMoreYears

    If everywhere you go smells like sh*t, check the bottom of your shoe.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Ah. Ok.

  • http://cosmicdanceband.com/ SilverandBlack666

    …and on top of it all now it looks like you will lose a bet to me and have to change your moniker for a month to “I love Palmer”

  • Myopinion

    Lol, you’re funny when you spaz out.

  • 0ak R8rs

    Just in Oakland coliseum. Although, there could be multiple reasons for that smell I suppose.

  • http://cosmicdanceband.com/ SilverandBlack666

    Reggie was fine where he was at this job is too big for him, he is in over his head.

  • Gdog

    It doesn’t help that CWood keeps guessing wrong… and Branch seems to be rusty at best…

  • Raider O

    Hey…..leave Shishkabobs out of it. I enjoy that stuff.
    Lol

  • 0ak R8rs

    Oh yea. I’m fcked there. Looking for someone else to be something to bail me out. Haydone to IR anyone? Just need 4 to 1. Straight up for PUP. Doubt anyone is dumb enough to take that one tho. DBust to PUP is a stone cold lock.