The Raiders are still trying to put their 38-0 loss to the Jets in the rear view mirror and move forward to a brighter future. Part of that brighter future could include left tackle Mario Henderson, who has done a fine job of staying under the radar thus far this season.
Gone are the days where Raider Nation collectively curses the blindside rush end for putting a hurt on their quarterback. For now, complaints that the left tackle position needs to be addressed on draft day are gone as well.
Henderson hasn’t been perfect. According to Stats INC., he’s allowed four sacks and hasn’t committed a penalty during the seven game season. Not perfect by any means, but pretty good when you’re facing the opponent’s best rusher every week.
When talking about his quarterback and the issues that JaMarcus Russell is currently having, Henderson takes the high road and blames himself. “You know, me personally, I like to–you know by trying to be a leader of the offensive line–you don’t blame nobody else.”
For Henderson it doesn’t matter who the quarterback is, because as far as he’s concerned, his job doesn’t change–just block baby. So if Tom Cable chooses to switch quarterbacks from Russell to Bruce Gradkowski, or third-stringer Charlie Frye, Henderson is going to approach the game the same.
“We have to get out there and block for whoever he puts out there,” said the third-year tackle. “It’s not like, well plays are changed, or anything is changed. You still have the same assignments, just a different player back there.” Although there’s some question as to who will play quarterback, it’s a good bet that Henderson will be at left tackle for as long he’s healthy.
Some would think that with the absence of Robert Gallery blocking alongside him, Henderson might have trouble adjusting to sharing the left side of the line with a new teammate. According to Henderson, he hasn’t.
Well, I mean it just changed a little bit, but I mean not really. Nothing changed you know ’cause like Chris [Morris] still makes the same calls. It’s not like he’s not a younger player or something like that. He still helps me out the same way Robert helps me out, so nothing has changed for anything at that position.
– Henderson on adapting life without Gallery at left guard
Being a leader requires simple thinking to complex problems sometimes, and when it comes to getting over the loss to the Jets, it can’t get much simpler than Henderson’s answer to it. “You know you go out there and it’s like a fight. You know, like [Cable] tells you,” said the mammoth 6’6″ lineman in front of his locker. “You going to get out there, like I said before, you’re going to get your ass kicked or you’re going to kick somebody ass. It’s pretty much simple how it goes on every Sunday, no matter what team you are, or how it goes down. That’s how it’s gonna’ go. Either you win or lose.”
Beating the Chargers this week is all that Henderson has on his mind right now. At 2-5, this week’s game has the Raiders’ backs up against the wall. A loss will pretty much spell the end of any playoff hopes, being that a 10-6 record would be the best possible scenario with a loss in San Diego. Last season, New England missed the playoffs with an 11-5 record. With that in mind, Henderson and his teammates know their playoff hopes are already in jeopardy regardless if they win the rest of their games.
“We want to go out there and finish the job and our confidence is a little higher that we can beat [the Chargers],” said the lineman sometimes called ‘Super Mario’. Chances are, Henderson will beat his opponent nearly every time.
Justin Miller a Jet
It looks like Miller’s former team, the Raiders, have created a job opening in his former-former team, the Jets. During the Jets’ victory over the Raiders, Leon Washington was injured with a catastrophic compound fracture of his right fibula.
It was a vicious break that had players squeamish on the field. The break could be heard loudly on the field and it had blood shooting out of the wound according to some players who witnessed the horror. “I saw blood squirting out. That’s emergency surgery right there,” said Jets’ right tackle Damian Woody.
Miller, a second round pick of the Jets in 2005, will fill the role vacated by Washington’s injury. In 2008, suffering from an injured toe, Miller was waived by the team and later picked up by the Raiders where he returned two punts back for touchdowns.
Still a member of the Raiders at the start of training camp, his lackadaisical approach to practice and his inability to stand out as a cover corner cost him a roster spot at the close of camp. The Raiders, after losing both Nick Miller and Johnnie Lee Higgins to injury early this season, brought Miller back for their game against the Houston Texans. He averaged a meager 17 yards on six kickoff returns in that game and was waived again the following day.
Wednesday team update
The following players did not practice today: Nick Miller (shin), Chaz Schilens (foot), Darren McFadden (knee), Tony Stewart (chest), Bruce Gradkowski (illness), Ricky Brown (ankle), Isaiah Ekejiuba (illness), and Greg Ellis (knee).
Miller is out of the boot and moving around a little now, but won’t be playing soon. Cable said that Schilens’ foot is better, but he’s still in a lot of pain, so he’ll likely be out this week in San Diego, but the possibility of him playing was left open. Stewart is expected back in practice on Thursday.
The following players were limited today: Robert Gallery (ankle) was limited to a few rep’s and individual workouts. Cable said he’d be day to day, but didn’t seem to expect him to play before the bye week. Gerard Warren was limited as well.
Cable said that the virus hitting the team over the last week is some sort of 24-hour bug. The team has been testing to make sure that the illness isn’t the famed ‘Swine Flu’. As of this writing, no coaches have suffered any illness since the team epidemic began.
If the Raiders tackling doesn’t improve, Cable may decide to do something drastic–such as running the team through live tackling drills. If he were to do that, it would be the most physical the team has been in a practice this year. So far, the coach says it hasn’t gotten to the point of necessity.
The run game could be close to breaking out again. Cable said, “I think we’re close. These last two weeks we’ve had a little bit more efficiency, a higher rate of efficiency.”
The anemic kick return game will have Jonathan Holland as their return man on Sunday. Holland, who is averaging a less than stellar 17.5 yards per return isn’t the only one to blame. “That is definitely on us,” said special teams ace Sam Williams. “We help each other out. If we give them a little bit of space, they have to make one person miss, which will open it up.”
Williams went on to say that it’s everyone’s job to make good returns–including the return man. “It’s our job to get our job blocked, and it’s the returner’s job to make one guy miss and then get to the house.”
We talked about it today as a team. You look at the first San Diego game all the way up to the last 21/2 minutes. You look at the last drive on both offense and defense at Kansas City, you look at really the entire game in Philadelphia, and if you set that film aside and look at it, there’s a much different, as you would say, electricity. If you look at the other four games you see a different team. As I told them, ‘it doesn’t look like you have a cattle prod up your rear.’ You’re not just zap! It’s not explosive. To me, that’s making sure that we’re doing it right. Eating, sleeping right, taking care of our bodies, doing all those things. We’ve had good effort on Sundays. But there’s a difference in having good effort and playing with the electricity you talked about.
– Cable on the lack of electricity since opening night
Revenge isn’t a factor in the Raiders’ ability to win in San Diego. Richard Seymour talked about it, saying that it’s mainly about worrying about what they do as a team. “I just think we need to play our game,” said the Pro Bowl defensive lineman. “Obviously we’re disappointed in the first game. We felt we should have won that game but we didn’t and we need to go out and play better this week.”
Former Raiders’ head coach and current Chargers ring leader, Norv Turner, seems to think that fans should wait longer on Russell. In a conference call with local Bay Area media, Turner said that things won’t always be perfect. “Well, for young guys, the expectation is always there that everyone wants you to go out and play completely mistake-free, and that’s not going to happen,” said Turner. “That’s how you grow. You go out and play and you have those experiences, and you learn from them. That’s part of, unfortunately, being a young quarterback.”
Chargers’ wide receiver Vincent Jackson’s take on this year’s Raiders compared to previous years? More aggressive. “A lot more aggressive, I would say,” said Jackson. “I think they have a lot more confidence in what they’re doing and everybody flying around and you know what you’re doing and you’re confident in what’s being asked of you and you’re going to play the game a lot faster. They look like they’re a bunch that has a good grasp on what they’re being asked to do out there.”
You gotta win. The only thing that’s missing here is confidence. The only thing that’s missing in this organization is confidence. We made a big deal last week if you remember about winning against Philadelphia, how important it was to come back and do it again and don’t feel that good about yourselves. We’re not there yet. I’ll be darned if we didn’t do that. We got into whatever and got the fire beat out of us on Sunday so it’s still about winning the next game. If you get that done, it’s the focus on winning the next one and that’s the only way, in my opinion, that you come out of it and build the confidence it takes to win.
– Cable on what the Raiders need in order to turn the corner
Nnamdi’s gone Hollywood…sort of
One of my favorite shows on television is Friday Night Lights, normally seen on NBC. For those of you that have DirecTv, you’ll be able to catch it earlier than when it comes back this winter on the Peacock. On Channel 101, the show’s fourth season premiered Wednesday night.
In one of the first few scenes, Nnamdi Asomugha appears as a police officer trying to help a troubled teen by dumping him off with the football coach as part of a program called ‘Cops and Jocks’. More surprising than seeing Asomugha on the show, was seeing him actually show a little talent in the process.
He might not be ready for an Emmy nomination, but he sure is better than Michael Strahan.
The show is filmed on location in Texas, so Asomugha hasn’t exactly gone Hollywood just yet…but something tells me that he may be able to when his career is over.