Injury report: Murray rebounds well after return to Raiders practice

Injury report: Murray rebounds well after return to Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Latavius Murray will spend this practice week testing himself to see if he can play after a debilitating bout of turf toe sidelined him the last two games.

He returned to action on a limited basis for Wednesday’s practice, and needed to respond and rebound well to continue his quest back to the playing field.

Early returns have been positive.

"I think he got a handful of plays out there (on Wednesday)," offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said before Thursday’s practice. "I think he’s looking to get better each and every day and hopefully it’s good enough by the time the next game arrives."

Murray practiced a second straight day on Thursday, strengthening his case to play against the Jaguars. That’s extremely likely, barring a setback.

That would certainly strengthen a Raiders running game that has slumped the past few weeks.

“Latavius has his own skill set,” Musgrave said. “Had some explosive runs for us last year. We’ll look forward to getting him back at some point. Hopefully it’s this week.”

Right tackle Menelik Watson practiced for a second straight day and seems in line to re-claim his starting spot against Jacksonville.

Special teams player Brynden Trawick and offensive lineman Vadal Alexander remain out.

It’s possible that Perry Riley will start at middle linebacker over rookie Cory James on Sunday.

Check back for complete participation reports for the Raiders and Jaguars.

Norton: Raiders 'have the right people,' scheme; execution lacking

Norton: Raiders 'have the right people,' scheme; execution lacking

ALAMEDA – Ken Norton Jr.’s defense hasn’t been good all season. It’s only been a hindrance twice in six weeks, allowing the Raiders to brush it under the rug while compiling a 4-2 record.

The Raiders were exposed in Sunday’s 26-10 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, leaving many to wonder whether this defense has fatal flaws.

The team’s defensive coordinator believes these problems can be fixed without a radical reconstruction.

Norton trusts his scheme. He believes in his personnel. He has faith there are better times ahead.

“It depends on what you believe in,” Norton said before Thursday’s practice. “If you believe in the players, you believe in the coaches and believe in yourself…

“Obviously you’d like the stats to be better. But we are 4-2, in a good place record-wise. The stats need to be better. We need to continue to understand who we are, what we are and get better at what we’re doing.”

“We have the right people. It’s just a matter of getting it done on game day.”

Coaches have cited eye violations (a.k.a misreads) as communication issues reasons why the Raiders give up chunk yards. Their 6.9 yards per play allowed is the league’s worst.

Edge rusher and team captain Khalil Mack said opponents are challenged the Raiders defensive discipline. Misdirection, bootlegs, wacky formations and the like have given the Raiders fits, and will continue to do so until they repair what’s broken.

“It’s all about discipline,” Norton said. “It’s all about angles. It’s all about leverage and tackling and the fundamentals of the game and getting down to the nitty gritty of playing smart and sharp. It’s the ultimate team game. …Everybody’s connected to a successful play. That play has to be successful consistently over a period of 70 plays. Everybody’s watching every single play, so you need consistency and have guys playing together. It will pick up.”

Communication is the latest buzz word attached to defensive miscues. Norton said it’s been corrected, just not consistently enough.

“It’s been fixed, but it will come up some times, at the worst times,” Norton said. “We are continually practicing. There are 16 games, and you need to be obsessed with improvement, and we are. Guys care a lot. They show up early and stay late. The communication, the playmaking, the coaching, all of it will continue to improve.

“Everybody wants to talk about communication but it’s guys consistently playing well over a duration of a game. You have to be sharp.”

The Raiders have used different coverage schemes at times this season and made two lineup changes – it’s also possible Perry Riley starts at middle linebacker this week – to no avail.

“You see things going wrong with missed tackles or balls going over our head, the little things and details need to get taken care of,” Norton said. “There aren’t a lot of differences between us and the good defenses, but they make a lot of plays they’re supposed to make.

“We have the right people. It’s just a matter of getting it done on game day.”

Jack Del Rio taking emotion out of return to Jacksonville

Jack Del Rio taking emotion out of return to Jacksonville

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio was in Jacksonville longer than any stop in his athletic career. Del Rio the football player was never in one place longer than four seasons. He was Jaguars head coach for nearly nine years, a position he held for most of his 40s.

Del Rio considers it a time of tremendous growth, especially in his current profession.

Sunday’s game will be his first in Jacksonville since he was let go, though Del Rio says emotion won’t overpower.

“I’ve been in this league a long time, so I’ve gone back to a few places before. It’s not the first time going back to places where I’ve been,” Del Rio said Wednesday. “I think I’ll be okay.”

Del Rio had good times and bad in Jacksonville. He had three winning seasons and two playoff appearances. The Jaguars have been terrible since he was fired following a 3-8 start to 2011.

Things didn’t ended well for Del Rio in Jacksonville. When a head coach moves on, they rarely do.

Del Rio holds no ill will towards the Jaguars. He’s thankful former Jaguars owner Wayne Weaver gave him the opportunity to become a first time head coach.

Weaver wanted someone with head coaching experience to replace Tom Coughlin. Del Rio won him over in the interview.

"I saw a bright light, a bright eye . . . a guy who was very organized, very detailed and full of confidence," Weaver said in 2003, via the Florida Times-Union.

Del Rio overcame a lack of experience with preparation. He brought a book full of plans for what he would do as Jaguars head coach, a comprehensive overview of how to bring Jacksonville back to prominence.

"Jack brought in a book this thick," Weaver said, holding his hands about 6 inches apart, via the Florida Times-Union. "It had every process, from building a staff to evaluating the roster to offseason conditioning, free agency, the draft, training camp . . . all of it."

Del Rio still has that book. It contains great information learned from mentors Brian Billick and John Fox while preparing to be a head coach.

“I credit Brian a lot for that organizational structure that I had and then John Fox,” Del Rio said. “He was the one that introduced me to putting all of that information into the book and rather than being power point or something because you’d be able to have that face to face with the owner.”

Experience has taught Del Rio so much more since then. He believes he’s a better head coach than he was before, especially reflection during three seasons as Denver defensive coordinator.

Del Rio comes back to Jacksonville leading a a 4-2 Raiders team on the rise. He’s found that there are some things not in the book.

“When you first get an opportunity to sit in this head coach seat, the amount of volume that you have to deal with, the decisions that you have to make, I don’t know that you’re really prepared for it until you get in there and start doing it,” Del Rio said. “I’ve gained an incredible amount of insight into what it takes in this profession. I feel much more prepared, obviously, having nine years of experience there and four games in Denver as the interim (head coach) and a year and a half here.

“Certainly, that experience, being in that chair and making decisions, running the staff, running the team, organizing practice, the way you travel, all the things that we do that lead up, the process that I talk about, the process of being a good team, all of it entails really, it starts with the head coach.”

Del Rio will be the opposing head coach on Sunday, and believes he’ll be received as all opponents are. That could bring some boos. He’ll be fine with it. There are few who know Del Rio then and now, though Raiders free safety Reggie Nelson is one.

The former Jaguar wouldn’t compare Del Rio's past and present, but said he wants to win in Del Rio’s return.

“It’s going to be exciting for him,” Nelson said. “I’m pretty sure we’ll put on a show. We know what’s at stake. It’s going to be a good game.”