Well, it’s day three of the Raiders “Learning symposium”. Still no pads, but helmets and thinking caps are on.
Darrius Heyward-Bey is practicing with his teammates as he has been since the late practice yesterday.
For supposedly being moved along slowly, Oren O’Neal seems to be moving quckly through that slow transition.
Javon Walker is still taking things lightly, the team is light one more QB with the release of Andrew Walter, and JaMarcus Russell according to JaMarcus himself, there is nothing light about him.
And still no Derrick Burgess or any news in that regard.
And with that we move to todays action.
McFadden split out, Russell left out.
The more the season went on last year, the more we saw McFadden lining up in the slot. And that was also when we saw some of the most successful offense for the Raiders.
So it makes perfect sense that McFadden is lining up in the slot consistently in practice. Cable says that he likes to option of having McFadden line up in the slot to get Fargas and Bush on the field as well.
“When you are as talented… we are, you have to find a way to get those people involved because really they’re all three playmakers in their own way.”
Although in practice the tendency has been more to have McFadden start in the backfield and then audible to the slot. In which case either the backfield is left empty or with just one running back. If the plan is to have all three running backs on the field at the same time, that hasn’t been shown yet.
But the big three of Fargas, McFadden, and Bush are not the only running backs trying to make this team. However, they are the only ones with a realistic shot at making it. This leaves a guy like Gary Russel on the outside looking in. Cable had this to say about Russel:
“I think Gary, he does everything pretty good. He’s a good protector, a good runner, catches the ball well so it’s nice to have someone like that and you just never know what’s going to happen. This is still a long camp to go. Just glad he’s with us.”
Translation: “Barring an injury to a starter, Gary Russel has no shot to make this team.” Notice how he uses the word “Good” three times? Saying that Russel does everything pretty good is saying “Jack of all trades, master of none.” And saying “Just glad he’s with us” is another way of saying “Insurance.” Yes Coach, it is still a long camp and Russel will be nice to take some of the beating during preseason and then tossed aside. But Russel should be paid handsomely for his sacrifice while getting some nice auditions for other NFL clubs. Can you say Adimchinobe Echemandu? (Help me Adimchinobe, you’re my only hope)
D.H.B. is not: Doing Half Bad
Although Darrius Heyward-Bey was working with the first team today, along with last year’s starter Chaz Schilens, he was only at his best half the time. And that half was the right half. That is the “right” as opposed to the left.His hamstring was clearly bothering him when he had to plant on his right leg and move left.
We were told yesterday that he was at 100% but he clearly is not. Although he could have been saying that he was 100% on 50% of his body. The other 50% is at more like 60%. I am not a mathmetician but I think that is…carry the one… more like 80%.
Perhaps he should be brought along slowly in the same fashion as Oren O’Neal and Javon Walker. We all know Ham strings are very touchy and I would hate to stunt his career or the Raiders chances to use him because of another “tweak”.
Come Monday, It’ll be alright
These first few days of practice have been spent primarily working on the basics and fundamentals. Coach Cable has been preaching that it will be much more beneficial to learn the nuances of the schemes and focus on the small details before the players throw on pads and go full board. That is scheduled for Monday.
This also means that, according to Cable, there are no roster competitions happening until Monday as well. Whether this approach will pay off in the long run remains to be seen. The players all seem to like it though. Or at least they are certainly towing the company line in that regard. Cable was sure to tell everyone about a positive review from at least one player:
“Lorenzo Neal said to me, ‘You know in 17 years, I’ve never seen anything like this, but I can’t believe how much we’re getting out of it’.”
The other side of this, according to Tom Cable and some players, is the feeling that it will keep the injuries down. One reason is that when the players do finally start hitting each other (pads and helmets, not fists) they will know their assignments and duties better. The hope is that players will not just be flying around the field learning from their mistakes the hard way. Cable claims that this approach paid off when he was a college coach.
While speeding up the learning curve, Cable hopes to also limit the hits each player takes along the way.
“Remember now, the NFL season starts now and it hopefully ends sometime in February for you”, Said Cable. “The human body can only take so many car crashes.”
A concept that I am sure any player would certainly be on board with. Heck if I were in these players’ place, and I got four less days of hard hits, I would be telling coach every day how brilliant an idea it was and blowing so much smoke up his ass, he was coughing on it.
And as an outsider, I am ok with it just so long as there is at least one guy hitting. And would be JaMarcus Russell hitting the treadmill.
We must Walk(er) before we can run
Javon Walker seems pretty pumped about getting back to his old self again. It would be a safe bet that Raider fans would be pretty pumped about that possibility as well. That is, if it can happen.
He claims that he has been in constant pain over the past few seasons and it was the root cause of all of his problems. The poor play and the attempt at early retirement being the top two of said problems.
“I’ve been an athlete to where they got to watch me more than I watch myself because I’ll play through anything”, Says Walker. “That’s just been me. That’s just kind of like last year when I broke my ankle but I finished the game and then I realized that later. So, they got to monitor me more than I monitor myself. So, I’m just agreeing, sticking to it. Every day I come out here and do my workouts in the afternoon, running, I’m just excited about knowing I just don’t feel what I was feeling last year.”
He is anxious and optimistic and claims to have a renewed sense of enthusiasm that he hasn’t had since his first season in Denver.
“I’m also excited about still letting Oakland see what Javon has to offer because I’m young, I’m in my prime right now. My ability hasn’t changed, my enthusiasm hasn’t changed…and when they let me loose, it’s on after that. Like I’ve been saying, this is the first time that I’ve felt this good based off of the problem I was having with my knee.
“Now I have a new level of enthusiasm. I felt like I’m a rookie again this year based off of (having the surgery) done. I’m excited more than any rookie could be.”
We are excited too Javon. Although, probably not quite as optimistic.