Hue Jackson finally braves the media

I had hoped  to have this up earlier, but a slow leak in one of my tires required my attention first. Unfortunately, Costco seems to have everything except for free Wi-Fi.

It was a short up-tempo practice in which the offense and defense went against each other for most of the session in the red zone. There was no clear winner, but again DHB was making all the plays that came his way. DHB also made the play of the day by making an over the shoulder touchdown grab on a post route, then later on caught one in the middle of the end zone after beating Chris Johnson.

Practice ended after a 40-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski to the tune of cheers by the rest of the team. Afterwords, the team gathered around in a circle and sang a poor rendition of the happy birthday song to Jon Condo. Today is his 29th birthday.

Getting back to Johnson, he probably won’t see any time in the upcoming game against the 49ers. Cable said in his post-practice press conference that Chaz Schilens (knee), Samson Satele (ankle), Alex Daniels (groin), Jay Richardson (knee), and Johnson (hamstring) “would be out for this game.

Cable summed up training camp by telling the media what he told the team, “Well done.” The coach then explained, “The mission was to try and get better every day, not have those days where you’re really disgusted or disappointed as a coaching staff, that, ‘Man, we really went backward today.’ We didn’t have any of those days. So, well done by this football team.

While Cable is happy with the progress the team has made, he tempered the optimism with another challenge for his team. “Now the real issue is to continue [getting better every day] when we go home,” said the head coach. “Eliminate the distractions that come with living back at home and all those kinds of things, travel and such, and being able to handle that and eliminate those distractions.

In my short time back in the press corps, I’ve heard grumblings from the media about not being able to talk with new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson — and with good reason. The count had gone up to 211 days since his hiring and he had yet to give an interview to the local media. In today’s NFL, that’s pretty much unheard of, and so the grumbling has gotten louder. Loud enough that the Raiders knew of the frustration.

Wednesday, Jackson stepped up to the podium right after practice, placed his hands to both side of the mic’s, looked up and said, “Psych!” The stunt had everyone laughing, but still not appeased. Today, the Raiders made sure to silence the media and sent Jackson to the podium for real.

After watching him handle the questions with ease and exude the sort of charisma that you would expect from a head coach, it had me wondering why the Raiders had kept him from the press. He was a great interview, and I’ll have the transcript up later this evening, but here are some of the quotes from today:

  • His take on what he’s seen from the offense so far this preseason: “I’m very excited about the progress we have made.
  • On how the offense will look different this year under him: “I hope it’s already looking different.
  • Interestingly enough, this was his response when asked about who the second-string quarterback was: “Who’s our number 2 quarterback? Well that’s yet to be determined.
  • On whether or not Bush and McFadden would split carries this season: “Well I don’t know. Darren hasn’t played yet.
  • Quote of the day (at least what Raider Nation would want to hear): “Honestly, we’re trying to build a bully here. We want to go back and take our football team and understand what the Raiders’ tradition is.

There will be more later, but for now, that will have to do in terms of Jackson.

After practice, I had a chance to speak with Nnamdi Asomugha. While interviewing him, he was talking about being comfortable with his role as a leader after his third year in the league. You may or may not remember that his fourth year is the year he had eight picks and 11 passes defensed. During that season, Warren Sapp was interviewed about Asomugha and he mentioned that the team would have to stop calling him Roberto Duran in reference to Duran’s infamous nickname ‘Hands of Stone.’ That was due to the fact that Asomugha had 14 passes defensed the season before, without any interceptions.

Well, I made the mistake of bringing that up. Here’s how the exchange went down, as transcribed by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vic Tafur:

Rob: Is that when you shed the nickname?

Nnamdi: Uhhhhhhhhhh?

Rob: The Roberto Duran nickname …

Nnamdi: When I did what?

Rob: That nickname …

Nnamdi: (silence, blank stare)

Rob: Isn’t that the same time they stopped calling you Roberto Duran?

Nnamdi: Oh, I didn’t know about that.

Rob: You didn’t know that?

Nnamdi: That must have …

Rob: Warren Sapp was saying that’s what they used to call you.

Nnamdi: Wow.

Rob: Hands of Stone. (laughs)

Nnamdi: That must have been an inside joke. Thanks for letting me know.

Rob: Sorry, man.

Nnamdi: You’re bringing back bad memories.

Asomugha and I are good, but needless to say, I endured quite a bit of laughter from the rest of my buddies in the press corps later on.

Check back later for more.