OAKLAND -- So let's get this straight.Despite all the subterfuge and cloak and dagger mind games emanating from Hue Jackson this week, the Raiders rookie coach said he knew all along who he would start at quarterback against Kansas City.All that talk about having a massage and then an Irish Coffee (or was it an Irish Coffee and then a massage?) before sitting down to figure it out on Friday night? Not true. Exactly.Because while Jackson knew he would start Kyle Boller, rather than the newly-acquired Carson Palmer, he kept everyone guessing, including, apparently, the two signal callers in question.Jackson did not tell Boller until Saturday he would get the call.Yes, these are professional athletes who should be ready at a moment's notice. But they are also humans, who would probably like to know their role early on so they can set their mind to the task at hand, no?Well, according to Jackson, the quarterbacks should have known their assignments simply based on the week's work load.To quote Jackson himself when asked when exactly he told Boller. Say what?"The uncertainty did not lead to anything," Jackson insisted, the wreckage of the Raiders' 28-0 embarrassment still smoldering in the background."You guys are going to write what you want, (but) trust me when I tell you, there was no uncertainty that led to thisuncertainty at quarterback is not what leads to interceptions or anything like that. When you play bad, that's what leads to that. When you coach bad, that's what leads to that, OK?"OK, but the uncertainty could not have helped. Especially not when the quarterbacks themselves still seemed shaky on the whole timeline thing. There's preparation that has to be taken into consideration, yes?Palmer said the plan was for him to not play; Jackson said he hoped to have Palmer close out the game in the fourth quarter, to "get his feet wet."Jackson said he had to hold Palmer back because he wanted to start; Palmer was not as definitive."I only know like three or four protections," Palmer said. "That makes it difficult. But really, just reps with personnel. Just timing and rhythm."More weirdness, Palmer said Sunday was the first time he had thrown a football while wearing shoulder pads since January."It's not a bye week for me," he added, "that's for sure."Palmer had a 17.3 passer rating after getting picked off three times, including a 59-yard Pick-Six. Boller's was 22.3, after getting picked off three times, including a 58-yard Pick-Six. Not even JaMarcus Russell threw three interceptions in a single half.No, this was not QB Masterpiece Theater. It was more a Theater of the Absurd QB, with Jackson pulling the strings of mad "gamesmanship," as he put it, to keep the Chiefs guessing. Palmer termed it "being deceptive."Kansas City shrugged it off. And laughed it off."We knew that they had a quarterback controversy," said safety Kendrick Lewis, who took Boller's first pass to the house. "And we studied film and studied their routes."According to ESPN, it was the first time in franchise history the Raiders were intercepted six times and did not throw a touchdown pass.Boller, meanwhile, was licking his wounds."I'm just extremely frustrated," he said. "I had an opportunity to go out there. It just didn't go as planned. Definitely not my best outing. I feel bad for my teammates. I feel like I let my teammates down. There's not much to say. The play speaks for itself."As does Jackson's guessing game with not only the media, but with his quarterbacks.
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.
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.”