Mario Henderson can hear your frustration

May 8, 2009; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders offensive tackle Mario Henderson (75) at minicamp at the Raiders practice facility. Photo via Newscom Photo via Newscom

If you watched the Raiders 38-13 loss against Tennessee on opening day, you know the play that brought you the most frustration with Raiders’ starting left tackle Mario Henderson. Most likely, it was the blind-side sack of Jason Campbell, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Tennessee, and nearly turned into a quick Titans touchdown. Had it not been for Titans safety Michael Griffin rolling into Henderson’s leg just after recovering the fumble, it would have been.

Unfortunately, the only positive out of the situation,” said Henderson about the play.

Since Sunday, Henderson has been criticized on television, radio, and in print. “I’ve been hearing it all, man. I’ve been hearing it all,” said Henderson after Thursday’s practice. The criticism bothers Henderson, but nothing has ever come easy for him, which is fine with him.

“I’ve never been given anything. I’m always taking the (hard road), been put in hard situations. I’ve already set my mind up that I’m never going to have it easy. I’m never going to be a golden child or anything like that.”
– Mario Henderson

Henderson did admit that the criticism takes a toll on his confidence at times. “I’m good,” said the fourth-year pro. “It’s just the fact that, like I said, the media, the critics and the fans, it kind of sucks because, especially for me, it will shoot your confidence.

Henderson isn’t making excuses, but in the negative-highlight play on Sunday, he’s certain that his man was offsides when the ball was snapped. Even so, he understands that it’s something he has to put behind him. “I just kind of got to block out that negativity,” said Henderson of the criticism. “It is tough, though, I ain’t going to lie. It really is tough, man.

Henderson has learned to do this from his former position coach, current head coach Tom Cable. “Yeah, we talk about that all the time,” said Cable in his post-practice press conference. “Whether it’s a player or coach or whoever in this business, you can get caught up in that stuff to a great degree, and where it will control you emotionally. He and I spent a lot of time talking about staying away from that.

What’s in front of you is what matters, it’s not what’s going on around you or behind you,” Cable continued. “That really is the key to his success, is being able to kinda’ wipe that away and just really stay focused to what’s at hand.

That’s not the only lesson that Henderson has learned well. Sunday was a lesson that he won’t forget. “But once again, playing left tackle, a guy jumps offsides, I have no chance. None. And it always looks the worst coming from the backside, the blind side. I really learned that. For reals.

Sunday against the Rams, we’ll all find out if he has learned to avoid getting that lesson again.

Thursday Notes:

  • Did not practice: Chaz Schilens (WR) – knee, Robert Gallery (LG) – hamstring, Travis Goethel (LB) – back, Richard Seymour (DL) – hamstring, Walter McFadden (CB) – hamstring.
  • Limited practice: Michael Bush (RB) – thumb, Nnamdi Asomugha (CB) – groin, Hiram Eugene (FS) – hamstring, Chris Johnson (CB) – stinger.
  • Full-go: Desmond Bryant (DL) – elbow.
  • The Raiders had a longer practice on Thursday. Cable said that they worked on more ‘situational stuff,’ primarily with pressure. He did say that it was a good practice.
  • John Madden and L.A. Dodgers manager Joe Torre were guests at practice. Unfortunately, for Cable, the two left before practice ended so Cable didn’t get a chance to meet with them.
  • Speaking of baseball, Cable’s pick for AL Cy Young – C.C. Sabathia.
  • No update on whether or not Gallery would play Sunday.
  • Cable left open the possibility that Jared Veldheer may not get the start at center. When asked if he would start, Cable responded, “I’m not ready to say that yet. Not ready to say that yet.” It’s not because of the bad shotgun snaps, but Cable said he’s concerned about the timing and rhythm is the big issue for his rookie.

We want the crowd and all that and we’re looking forward to playing in front of the crowd, but the crowd isn’t going to put our helmets on and our shoulder pads. We have to go take care of business.
– Tom Cable on playing in front of the home crowd