Raider Camp (Days 1-4)


Here are some note and links on the first 4 days of Oakland Raider training camp.

Ronald Curry looks like the best receiver so far. I’d actually be surprised if the only returning receiver (worth mentioning) wasn’t ahead of the new Raiders. With plenty of good comments for Drew Carter during the mini-camps and OTA’s, and Javon Walker looking in great shape, there’s plenty to be happy about.

The Raiders announced the LaMont Jordan was finally released on Friday, with him landing with the Patriots on Saturday.  Unless Jordan improves his conditioning he’ll be cut before the season starts.

Javon Walker on his Vegas incident. 

“Everybody just go into speculations of what they heard and what they think they know . . . when I get ready to come out and tell what really happened, I’ll clear it up then,” Walker said.

Why doesn’t he want this to go away? He just left it open for every journalist to continue to ask him “is today the day you’re going to comment on your Vegas mugging,” everyday until he does.

Nnamdi Asomugha’s fellow NFLer’s on him reporting on time.

“When I was talking to a lot of the players, that they were surprised that I came,” Asomugha said. “ But at the same time they weren’t because they know it’s not about money for me. I really want to win games. That’s a big part of why I’m here. It’s putting that on the line, that you could get hurt, and those types of things. But it’s in the name of being a cohesive unit and coming together and trying to win football games.”

Day to Day Notes from Inside the Oakland Radiers

Day1:

Wide receiver Arman Shields, who missed much of the offseason with a hamstring pull, wasted no time making up whatever ground he lost to fellow Chaz Schilens and others by making several nice catches

Running back Darren McFadden made some nice runs from scrimmage, showing his burst of speed, but dropped at least two easy passes on short dump offs. McFadden said afterward he was running before he caught the ball.

Running back Michael Bush looked excited and eager to take a few hits, although defenders did not wrap up. Bush said afterward he enjoyed the experience, but was really looking forward to taking on a defender during the first preaseason game.

Center Jake Grove got much of the first-team work at center, as the Raiders seem eager to find out once and for all if he can be the center they drafted in the second round in 2004.

The Raiders ran effectively on two stretch plays to the left behind Harris, once with Justin Fargas and later with McFadden

Consultant Paul Hackett was on the field with the Raiders, but his duties this year will be confined to scouting upcoming opponents. Kiffin noted that Hackett most recently coached in the NFC South (with Tampa Bay) and the AFC East (the New York Jets), two divisions the Raiders play this year.

Kiffin operated mostly in a stealth mode, in contrast to his tornado act during last year’s training camp.

“That’s the way it should be,” guard Robert Gallery said. “ We know what we’re doing now. There’s a program in place.”

Day 2

Coach Lane Kiffin got the extra arm he desired when the club re-signed Jeff Otis, who was released Wednesday, to take the roster spot vacated by the release of running back LaMont Jordan.

Defensive end Greg Spires returned to practice after suffering a hamstring pull during the conditioning run and was working on the second team defensive line along with Terdell Sands, Josh Shaw and Kalimba Edwards.Edwards is getting a lot of work with the second team and and with the first team unit, with the Raiders hoping he can become the nickel rusher to replace Chris Clemons. It’s unclear at this point whether Edwards could be a find or if the Raiders tackles are struggling as much as they appear to be struggling.

Day 3

Raiders tackles have had difficulty slowing the charge of Derrick Burgess (almost always on the left side, a few snaps on the right) and Kalimba Edwards from the outside. Kiffin conceded it is that area where [Kwame] Harris will need to get up to speed.

“He’s been a better run player for us so far,” Kiffin said. “We got some things in the pass protection going back to the left side — he hasn’t been there for a while — that we’ve got to work out, that (Tom) Cable’s working on with him. We got a lot of hopes for him, and we’re going to need him.”

Huff, sometimes invisible while lost in among the bigger players at strong safety, has been conspicuous not only with his playmaking, but his enthusiasm for playing free safety.
“I’m out there running around, having fun, make Gibril (Wilson) take on all the tackles and guards and fullbacks and all that,” Huff said. “I can stay back there and make plays.”
Huff is doing a good job reading the offense, but is having a hard time figuring out his weight pattern. He said he tried to bulk up to last year and finished the season at a skeletal 193 pounds. Now that he’s a free safety, he is up to 205.

“I know it’s strange, but I feel quick out there, real fast,” Huff said.
Kelly has been putting in overtime on the cardio machines after practice, working on getting his weight down. He has been one of the last players to leave the field house.

Day 4

Defensive end Derrick Burgess continues to be perhaps the most impressive player in camp, and not just as a pass rusher. He blew up a running play, getting Darren McFadden in the backfield.

During one team session, the Raiders were blitzing the offense on every play, simulating what the team is likely to face as opponents go after Russell.

Russell made some nice hot reads during the session, with one of the best going for naught when tight end Darrell Strong dropped a pass with Tyvon Branch in coverage.

McFadden had his second consecutive practice where he didn’t look sure of himself as a receiver, seeming surprised as the ball arrived.

“He’s had some inaccurate hand placement on some catches, which is a surprise because we didn’t see much of that in the camp before,” Kiffin said. “He’s got so much going on right now and so much pressure on him and so many different plays so we’re going to keep pushing him and then there will come a time when we pull back. His attitude’s phenomenal.”

“Inaccurate hand placement” is Kiffinese for not being ready to catch the ball.
Kiffin placed Higgins in the lead to return punts, Branch for kickoffs.

The most hotly contested position might be strongside linebacker, where Sam Williams, Robert Thomas and Ricky Brown are getting a look. Irons was also in the mix but a hamstring pull put him behind the field.

Williams has the ideal size at 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, but has been beset by injuries since Al Davis traded up to get him out of Fresno State in 2003.

He started well last year but was sidelined by a stinger, and never reclaimed the job from Thomas. Rather than bemoan his bad luck and get a fresh start somewhere else, Williams re-signed with the Raiders instead of becoming a free agent.

“I know what I can do. They know what I can do, and I’m going to have this be my year where I show the world what I can do, so it wasn’t a mistake getting me,” Williams said.

“We love everything about him, the way that he goes about special teams, the way he prepares,” Kiffin said. “We just need him to stay healthy, and he was playing well at the beginning of the year last year before he got hurt, and we just need to continue to build on that.”

For the first time, no offensive or defensive lineman had to run laps for committing a false start or jumping offsides.

Kiffin mentioned McFadden as a possibility for return duty on occasion.

McFadden had a much better practice catching the ball out of backfield than he did in the earlier session, when Kiffin expressed concern over his “hand placement.” Guess he figured out they had to be somewhere near the ball.

Wide receiver Todd Watkins had one drop of a Russell pass over the middle and later a juggle which he managed to retrieve, but ended practice on a strong note, catching a deep out from Marques Tuiasosopo with an impressive leap and grab as three horns sounded to end the session.

Following Watkins’ grab, the team met in the center of the field, but Kiffin dispatched Janikowski to attempt a 57-yard field goal. Usually in those instances, something is on the line _ extended curfew, reduced meeting time, etc.

Janikowski, who had nailed a pair of 43-yard kicks in an end-of-game drill earlier in practice, this time missed wide right.

The Raiders practice once Monday from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.