Camp Report (88): Raiders' DHB back in action


Camp Report (88): Raiders' DHB back in action

Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.comPractice No. 10Summary: Coach Hue Jackson lost a bet with running back Michael Bennett and had to wear some garish "highlighter yellow" Nike hightops on the field, though neither party would say exactly what the bet was. Still, it was easy to keep track of the energetic rookie coach as he bounded around. It was also easy to see running back Darren McFadden and his fractured eye orbital running on a side field with Jacoby Ford and his broken left hand before Sebastian Janikowski started booming 60-yard field goals. Denarius Moore showed he was indeed human, dropping a pass, before hauling in a long bomb for a touchdown. The hardest hit of the day came courtesy of linebacker Chris Francis, who blasted running back Michael Bush coming through the line of scrimmage.Injury report: Fourteen players sat out practice with various "nicks," receivers Jacoby Ford (broken left hand), Louis Murphy, Eddie McGhee and Derrick Jones (Achilles'), fullback James McCluskey, tailbacks Taiwan Jones (hamstring) and Darren McFadden (fractured eye socket), offensive linemen Bruce Campbell (knee), Lou Eiliades and Alan Pelc, defensive backs Chimdi Chekwa (shoulder), Mike Mitchell and Joe Porter and defensive lineman Trevor Scott (knee).Returning to work: Darrius Heyward-Bey, slowed since the first day of camp with an undisclosed malady, participated in 11-on-11 team sessions for the first time. He had two nice catches in traffic, looked bad in dropping one slant pass that bounced off his shoulder pads and had a ball poked away from behind. All in a day's work for the highly-scrutinized third-year receiver.RELATED: Q & A with CB coach Rod Woodson
Eye on reps: Rookie Stefen Wisniewski and fifth-year veteran Samson Satele continued to split time at center, with Li'l Wiz moving to left guard in place of Daniel Loper when Satele came in to hike the ball.Coaching moment: After Darrius Heyward-Bey beat Chris Johnson on that perfectly-timed crossing pattern for a big pickup and Johnson poked the ball away from DHB and it rolled out of bounds, offensive coordinator Al Saunders got in his receiver's earhole. As he should have. Then, Saunders congratulated Johnson for a heads-up play, with a hearty smack on the posterior.Rookie report: Ah, yes, the rite of passage known as rookie hazing. Following practice, undrafted free agent cornerback Sterling Moore was taped to the north end zone goal post and, well, watered down by several veteran teammates. "I was a good sport during hazing today," Moore Tweeted immediately afterward. "Just had to Chalk it up to the game and get a rookie when I'm a vet."Notable: Brawls are as much a part of training camp as are cool baths and hot tubs. Alas, there was nary a nasty word spoken a day after the Raiders had the day off. The closest they came to throwing hands on Monday was when defensive end Jarvis Moss and tight end Brandon Myers pushed and shoved before Myers walked away, leaving an incredulous Moss shaking his head and itching for more.Quotable: "Stanford is a work in progress. He has natural gifts. It's up to him to cultivate those gift." - Raiders first-year cornerbacks coach and Hall of Famer Rod Woodson on cornerback Stanford Routt.Next practice: Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.

LB Smith praises Raiders' turnover ratio, but wants much more

LB Smith praises Raiders' turnover ratio, but wants much more

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders defense gave up 344 yards Sunday while beating the Jacksonville Jaguars.

That sum’s a season low, still way too many for Malcolm Smith. The Raiders weakside linebacker has higher standards, even after one of two solid defensive efforts in seven games.

“That’s still a lot of yards,” Smith said. “We’re not where we want to be.”

Just because Sunday was better doesn’t mean it’s good enough. The Raiders defense ranks last in yards allowed and 22nd in scoring defense at 25.6 points per game.

There’s a main reason why the Raiders aren’t dead last in both categories. Takeaways.

The Raiders have plundered the opposition this season 13 times in seven games. Special teams got one Sunday on a muffed punt, but the defense has been incredibly active stealing possession.

Reggie Nelson has a nose for the ball, with two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Sean Smith and David Amerson have two picks each and Bruce Irvin leads the league with four forced fumbles.

Turnovers make all those yards allowed easy to stomach, and has kept the Raiders in several close games. The force big mistakes and don’t make many, proven with a plus-eight turnover ratio ranked No. 3 overall.

“It’s given us a chance to win some games, where you could just look at other statistics and say we wouldn’t have a chance.” Smith said. “That’s what the game is about, and us finding ways to compete. Hopefully we stay after it that way.”

The Raiders have stayed after it in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on just 50 percent of opponent trips inside their 20-yard line.

While big plays have brought wins and positivity to the defense, the season’s first half has been difficult for Raiders expecting more.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” Smith said. “You come into the year with all these aspirations and things you want to do. When it doesn’t go your way you have to stay after it, keep putting the work in and know it’s not going to be wasted. Hopefully we’re making strides and those improvements will show on Sundays.”

The Raiders believe the defense is close to being good, and has done a solid job masking issues with takeaways and timely production.

“Our team has done a great job of competing to win games,” Smith said. “If we keep doing that, everything will be fine.”

Del Rio pleased with Raiders' mature attitude towards 5-2 start

Del Rio pleased with Raiders' mature attitude towards 5-2 start

SARASOTA, Fla. – The Raiders were certainly happy they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars into submission. They jumped out to a strong halftime lead, played smart complimentary football and, at 33-16, ended up with a large margin of victory.

All, however, was not right with the world.

Derek Carr lamented settling for too many field goals. Latavius Murray wanted more efficiency from his runs. Defensive players saw progress in several deficient areas, still seeking greater cohesion and consistency.

[BAIR: Top 5 takeaways from Raiders' 33-16 win over Jaguars]

Sunday’s big victory over lowly Jacksonville was not a sign they've arrived. It was proof these Raiders remain a work in progress.

Records normally suffer with much to correct. These Raiders are 5-2, and feel better football’s ahead.

“That’s what is great about this team is that we haven’t played our best yet,” Murray said. “That’s a good feeling moving forward, knowing there are things you can get better at and you’re still 5-2.”

Winning while fixing things; that’s a coach’s dream. It’s also easier when players know it, that egos don’t expand and confidence doesn’t become arrogance.

“I like that part. I like the fact that we recognize it,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I’m certainly going to point it out. There are things that we have to do better. I think it’s healthy.

“You should enjoy the wins. You should feel good about the success. Take pride in it. We worked hard for it, but to have a healthy respect for what’s coming and the need to play better and the need to continue to grow as a football team as we go throughout the year. That’s a mature way to look at it, and I’m very pleased about that with a younger team.”

The Raiders are a confident bunch and have survived several games on guts, guile and turnovers -- a recipe for success with inconsistent production.

The Raiders defense believes it made strides in the Jaguars win, though there’s significant work remaining to be a decent defense. With the offense rolling, that’s all the Raiders need to be a top team. Defenders aren’t striving for decent. They want more, and believe that realizing potential could put them in position for a playoff push.

“This team has so much talent, with good coaches and good players,” cornerback David Amerson said. “The sky’s the limit. Once we all start clicking, we can go out there and beat teams 30-0. Once we get to that point, that’s when we can look towards the playoffs and things like that. We have just as much talent as any team in the league.”