In Sunday’s loss to the San Diego Chargers, one rookie had a bit of a coming out party. Raiders’ third-round pick from the 2009 NFL Draft is beginning to make some noise on the field. Against the Chargers, Matt Shaughnessy led in tackles with five and had the only sack (first of his career) on the day for the silver and black.
Monday, Tom Cable said that veteran Greg Ellis will have his knee scoped on Wednesday. “He will be probably into next week before we really know where we’re at with that,” said Cable about his starting defensive end. When asked who would be Ellis’ replacement if he couldn’t go, Cable said that Shaughnessy would be the guy.
“Matt was terrific yesterday,” said Cable about the rookie. “I mentioned after the game, both the young defensive linemen, Shaughnessy and Bryant, have given us excellent play this year. Matt got an opportunity to play more probably than was planned and did very well. He got his first sack, made two or three tackles for losses, held the edge, disrupted the quarterback two other times. So, really, for a young guy, he continues to get better and better in his production and has been very good.”
This time of year, coaches have to be concerned that their rookies are beginning to hit the proverbial wall. College seasons are at most 13 games and that final game is normally after a month of waiting to play it. After playing eight games so far, with another eight to go, rookies find it difficult to maintain the pace due to the longer season.
Cable talked about rookies getting tired at this time of year saying, “They all get to about this point and it’s like a monkey jumps on your back.” He continued his thought, “So for, I think for all the young guys, it’s a good time where the bye comes this week, to kinda’ reiterate to the group, ‘Hey, there’s a lot of football left,’ and you spend a lot of time talking to them about taking care of your body because that’s really the difference in pro football.”
While the wall comes at different times for different players, rookie Louis Murphy said that he doesn’t feel that he’s hit it yet. “I think it’s probably going to be about four more weeks, before I find that rookie wall. I feel pretty good.”
Murphy did admit that his rookie year has been a whirlwind so far, but he’s starting to get the hang of the pro game. “It’s starting to slow down. It’s like being on a merry-go-round and it’s spinning real fast, you’ve got to hang on, so it’s starting to slow down, starting to get adjusted, starting to get my game, playing together, and just my preparation for the game, settling and getting adjusted to the NFL.”
Much was made about Murphy and Johnnie Lee Higgins tackling each other on a pass play, but Murphy said that it happens sometimes. “Actually, I had an inside release, and Johnnie an outside release and we ran into each other,” said the rookie receiver. “I mean, it happens.”
Cable’s answer to why the two receivers took each other out of the play was due to timing. “One of ‘em was too fast trying to come underneath and rub for the other.”
Prior to practice, Cornell Green and Darren McFadden were on the field working up a sweat. Green, who has had a calf injury that Cable called a ‘severe strain,‘ was doing some straight-line running. McFadden was running through different cut drills and struggling to stay upright on plants and cuts. Both plan to be back after the bye week, but more will be known next week.
For McFadden, it was only the second day he’s ran on his surgically repaired knee since the operation. He said after the workout, “It’s feeling great to me, coming along great.” He also said that he’s not feeling any pain, but he also hasn’t been doing much sprinting on it yet. For now, Cable said that McFadden will be in a limited role.
It’s very tough, being over there just watching. Being a competitor you want to be out there trying to help but in the situation you’re in you can’t help at the time.
– McFadden on being injured during the season
There won’t be any trips back to Arkansas for McFadden. Instead, he’ll stay behind during the bye week in order to rehab that knee. He wouldn’t put a percentage on his recovery, but said that he’s ‘doing pretty good.‘
The Raiders’ top two receivers, Zach Miller and Louis Murphy, both have the same goals for the second half of the season: win. Both were asked what sort of goals they had for the second half and Miller chuckled before saying, “We want to start with the first week with a win, playing the Chiefs here at home.” Murphy’s response was similar. “Man, we gotta win some games,” said the wide receiver.
Much is being made about allegations that Cable has hit former girlfriends and wives. Most of it is due to the Hanson allegations. With all of the off the field problems for the head coach, many think that it would also filter into the locker room, but Jay Richardson said it isn’t. “I’ll tell you what,” started the defensive end. “It’s actually surprisingly not in anybody’s minds at all. You would think it would be more, especially going through the preseason and the stuff that was going on, but nobody ever talked about it. We have enough things to worry about here and our hands are kinda’ full here so you can’t really think about that.”
One thing that Richardson wanted people to know was that he was the blocker that sprung Holland on his long 60-yard return at the end of the first half. While reporters were talking to Holland before practice, Richardson was heard saying, “Tell them about my block Johnny. Tell them about my block Johnny.” So Holland said in response, “Yeah, J-Rich’s block. Spring me.” You could hear Richardson saying, “I sprung him. I don’t even do special teams, but I sprung him,” as the interview continued.
While Richardson is more than willing to get on the field for special teams, Holland couldn’t have picked the right time to have a breakout game. Cable said that Nick Miller should be returning after the bye and that he will be in the mix to return kicks–the main reason that Holland is on the roster.
Holland is very confident after having a good game on Sunday. “Definitely got that spark going now,” he said. “Got that one big return for us. It’s on now, for the rest of the season. Just need to see the vision, and see the hole and hit it and just need everybody to trust one another. All 11 guys and we’re good for the rest of the season.”
For those thinking that the Raiders are going to fall apart and get worse down the stretch, they may have a surprise on the way. Zach Miller said that the team is nowhere near falling apart. “I feel like overall we’re a pretty close team, we just haven’t been able to win as much as we’d like and we’ve played really poor at times and got blown out and played pretty well as a team and this lost the game at the end. I feel as a team, though, we’re a pretty close group of guys.”
Other news and notes from Monday
- The hook and ladder that the Raiders attempted on their final offensive play, was the play called. The reason that it didn’t work was due to timing. Had the play been pulled off, Darrius Heyward-Bey had a clear opening for a big gain. Cable called it, “Another one of those ‘almost.’“
- For those of you throwing things at your set when JaMarcus Russell called the timeout after a television timeout, you can blame the headset for that. Cable said that they had three plays in which Russell’s headset was going in and out–two of which forced him to call for time to get the play right. On the third headset mishap, enough of the play came through the headset for him to make it work.
- When and if Schilens does come back, look for Murphy to move inside to the slot in three-receiver sets. Whether or not DHB will move to the bench on two-receiver sets is unknown right now…to everyone but Cable probably.
- Schilens is not feeling pain in his foot, but Cable said that he’s running on it yet either. The hope is that he’ll return after the bye week.
- Another receiver possibly coming back will be Nick Miller (tibia). Cable said that he’d be in the mix for both punt and kick returns and could get some time as a receiver too. Right now, he’s still limited.
- Green (calf), Chris Johnson (groin), Jon Alston (neck and concussion) and Tony Stewart (pec) are day to day.
- Robert Gallery (ankle), Gerard Warren (foot bruise), and Schilens are all limited.
- Ricky Brown (ankle) is out.
- Alston suffered his second concussion in a month and will be monitored even more closely before he’s able to return against the Chiefs.
- Greg Ellis is out for now, but Cable is holding out hope that he will be back for Kansas City.
- Cable was pleased with Russell’s performance on Sunday–especially after the interception. When talking about how Russell handled the pick, Cable said, “He handled it well. The thing he did a tremendous job of yesterday was the way he managed the game. In terms of taking control of some things, and his leadership out there was upbeat, positive, he threw the ball well in the short range area.“
- Cable said that one of the things they need to do during the bye week is to ‘self scout.’ In other words, they need to figure out what their weaknesses are and how to fix them. Cable said that he already knows what he’s going to see when he does it. “That’s why I’ve told you guys for a long time, I have great faith in where we’re going and what we can do as a football team. Nothing has changed my mind that way, It’s getting that air of confidence it takes to get over the hump. I think part of the bye this week mentally and physically is also to recover and to heal.“
- As is the case for every Raiders’ head coach heading into the bye week, Cable was asked about his future with the organization. “Well I’m coaching the Raiders and I think my future is to be the coach of the Raiders.“