Tom Cable: Javon Walker not in his ‘Fave 5′

NFL: Oakland Raiders Minicamp
Cable won't play Walker unless injuries force him to.

Tom Cable met with the media for one of his longest press conferences of the young season. During the grilling from the press, he was asked about the Randy Hanson incident, the burgeoning issue of losing, Javon Walker, the Hanson incident, JaMarcus Russell, Jeff Garcia, and the Hanson incident. He was also asked about some football during the process.

First, Cable spoke of the injuries on the squad.

The biggest injury news is about the last year’s first round selection, Darren McFadden.

McFadden suffered a torn meniscus in his knee (cable wasn’t sure which one), and he’ll be lost to the team for two to four weeks while he’s healing. Reports are that McFadden will go under the knife on Tuesday. Cable didn’t have an answer for who would be his starter next week, besides saying they would go with both Justin Fargas and Michael Bush.

Another starter who was injured in Texas, with arguably less impact, was right tackle Cornell Green. Green will be out for two to four weeks as well with a calf strain.  Cable said that Erik Pears would probably be the starter there and Khalif Barnes will need to get up to speed at a couple of spots–most likely left guard would be one of them.

Zach Miller, who suffered a concussion in the loss to the Texans, still showed signs of post-concussion syndrome, but he was much better and expected to be ready to play by Sunday.

Other updates on the injury front:

  • Nick Miller and Robert Gallery are still wearing boots, but were said to be getting much better. Cable also went on to say about Gallery, “We think this week may not be out of the question, but it may not be a long shot as well.
  • The long awaited return of Chaz Schilens is close.  He’s out of the boot and he’s working out, but Cable said they would take it day to day on the decision to start him.

When it came to Russell, Cable said that the Texans game was, “one of his better games.”  Compared to the previous three weeks, Cable said that he thought Russell threw the ball well. “He was on target all but really two throws,” Cable said. “When you have that many drops–I think there were nine that I counted–if you put nine completions or at least the opportunity of nine completions on his deal, you’d say he might have been as good as anybody in pro football yesterday.

Cable was also asked about comments that Boomer Esiason had made on the CBS pregame show Sunday morning. According to Esiason, Russell had been fined for missing meetings and not keeping his weight in check. “I’m not gonna talk about our internal stuff that way,” Cable said.

One of the biggest oddities to many who were at training camp is the Javon Walker situation. Walker, who had an experimental operation done on his ailing knee without telling the team about it, drew rave reviews from beat writers during training camp for his work ethic and dazzling performance in workouts. After four weeks, he’s been in on a handful of plays and has been inactive for two games.

Asked if Walker’s assertion about being healthy enough to play was a disconnect between he and the doctors or if it was just a desire that Walker has to play, Cable frankly said, “I think with Javon it’s probably his desire.

Cable was pressed on that response, asked if he had discussed the situation with Walker. “I think it’s just a matter of is he ready to go in and take someone else’s job,” said Cable. He continued to explain, “I mean, the production up until yesterday by those young receivers has been there. It was a matter of getting them the football. And then yesterday we were able to get ‘em the football, and those of course we dropped a ton of footballs.

Later, Cable was pressed further on Walker. Asked if it was a case that Walker wasn’t one of the better receivers on the team, Cable’s response was illuminating. “I feel like right now it’s not so decisive one way or the other, whether it was taking Louis Murphy out or taking Darrius Heyward-Bey out,” he began.

If you watch Darrius, his opportunities are coming more, albeit one or two at a time, but they’re coming more. He’s catching the ball, he’s open more. You see it coming. When you look at that, you’d retard it if you took him off the field. I don’t think that would be the right thing to do.

It was to a point where I felt like guys who walked through those doors, that just were there to collect a check and not really interested in putting everything that they had within themselves on to the football field.
– Jeff Garcia on wanting to be out of football rather than be a Raider

Another topic of conversation that came up was the comments that Jeff Garcia made last week on Fox Sports Radio. Besides saying that Russell wasn’t ready to lead a team, he accused players on the roster of the most egregious thing in professional sports–just showing up to collect a check.

How much work they put in, the process which they go through every day, work on the field and in the classroom, stuff that I know they’re taking home with them at night, from the video people, from the coaches. If you don’t care, you don’t do half that. We’re OK.
– Tom Cable on what he is seeing that makes him believe the team isn’t throwing in the towel

Asked if Garcia had shared those thoughts when asking for his release, Cable said that he didn’t. With a confused look, Cable began to explain, “No, I heard about that actually Saturday for the first time and I was really surprised by it because when Jeff came to me and said he didn’t want to play football any more, I was shocked, based on his background.

I’m not real familiar with him. I didn’t have the background with him that some other guys did. I was surprised that he didn’t want to play the game any more at that time. When I heard those things Saturday, I thought maybe, that’s a guy who’s not in it any more, talking about himself. I don’t know. But my feeling was that when he asked for his release he didn’t want to play football any more. He didn’t like it any more.

In other words, when Garcia asked to be released, he gave the impression to Cable that it was so he could retire.

The biggest exchange on the day came from questions regarding reports that concluded Cable could be arrested soon for the incident that happened during training camp with assistant coach Randy Hanson.  Here’s a brief rundown of his reactions:

  • He didn’t know anything about the internet reports.
  • He’s not going to talk about the issue.
  • He doesn’t let it become a part of his day or let it distract him in any way.
  • When it’s all resolved, he claimed everyone will understand why he’s handling the way he is.
  • He trusts that the process will take care of itself and that he has nothing to worry about.
  • If the commissioner, Roger Goodell, asks to meet with him, he will.
  • There isn’t a scheduled meeting with the commissioner right now–at least not one he’s aware of.
  • If and when a meeting with the commissioner does happen, he’s looking forward to it, but restated that in terms of the case there’s nothing to be said.

NOTES:

  • The competition at fullback is in full force. Those of you that noticed Luke Lawton playing on Sunday, don’t need your eyes checked. “I mentioned it last week a little bit. I didn’t think he’s quite played as well the last couple of weeks. He’s kind of been hit and miss. Just want to continue to have that competition out there and put Luke in an opportunity to help us win games and we’ll see how Big O responds now.
  • Rather than missed assignments, Cable blamed technique for the offensive line’s inability to open holes for the running game. High pad level, coming off the ball too slow, and not attacking the defense in a manner consistent with how an offensive lineman is supposed to, were factors that Cable pointed out as needs for improvement.
  • Mis-communication was the culprit on two of the three long passes the Texans completed on Sunday. The mis-communication was between cornerbacks Chris Johnson and Nnamdi Asomugha. Other than those passes and the two long runs, Cable thought the defense played really well.
  • Cable said that Russell had only two bad passes on Sunday. The first bad pass was the curl route to DHB that he under threw and the other was the long pass along the sideline to Louis Murphy where it was thrown to the wrong shoulder.
  • Cable is convinced that the team is close and on the right track. He plans to be more active in special teams meetings and called the coverage unit out for a ‘poor effort’ on Sunday. He sees the team taking responsibility and he said that it’s a matter of playing well in practice, then translating that to Sunday.
  • On the free kick return for a touchdown, Cable said that Lechler’s kick could’ve had a little more hang time, but that they should have tackled the return man at his own 32 yard line.
  • When asked if he was fine with Ellis holding court with offensive players during the game, Cable said he was. “The reason I’m OK with it is that until the offense finds their leaders, who those guys are going to be, I think you’re leadership’s gotta come from anywhere on this football team. Not just your coaches. Whether it’s Lechler doing it, he’s a very valuable guy on this team. Greg is very valuable, very well-respected, so I don’t know that it really matters where it comes from. The thing that matters is that it happens.
  • Cable and Al Davis continue to have a good relationship according to Cable. He said that they “talk all the time.
  • The team’s work ethic has improved from when he first got to Oakland. He said that it was about 60-percent of what it should be when he got here and he would say that it’s about 90-percent now.
  • The Louis Murphy catch that was called incomplete was a catch as far as Cable is concerned.
  • Being 1-3 after the first quarter of the season doesn’t give Cable any cause to panic. “I know a number of teams have been playoff teams and in fact won the Super Bowl with the same record we have right now.
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