Tom Cable says they’re ready, but the only way anyone will truly know how well the Raiders are prepared for their game against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday will be to actually play the game.
“Absolutely,” said Cable at his daily press briefing Friday when asked about needing to play the game to find out how prepared his team is. “So it will be a test for us how we come out and play on Sunday. The expectation is high, definitely.”
According to Cable, Friday’s practice went well. He also elaborated on what was left to accomplish before Sunday’s game. “It’s kind of a wrap-up to the week and then we’ll close it out tomorrow with meetings and walk-through and all that.”
The Raiders will go into the game a 6.5 point underdog to an 0-5 49ers squad that has been in the news more for their dysfunction off the field, rather than their play on it. While that might not sit well with the members of the Silver and Black, from the head coach down to the practice squad, everyone on the team has been more than complimentary of their next opponent.
“We spend all our time on us,” said Cable Friday after practice. “We’re certainly preparing for them and we know they’re a very good team that has had some struggles. When I say very good, look at them defensively and the amount of pressure they bring, their ability to run the ball, some of those things that turnovers have really knocked them out of being the kind of team that they want to be. We’re very aware of what they are and how good they can be.“
The Raiders could be playing a cautious role because they are well aware of their record since the start of 2009 on weeks following a win — 0-6 with an average score of 28-9. Prior to their 24-23 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in week three, that average score was 28-6. That’s not a difference to take lightly when you consider that they average just two field goals to their opponents average of four touchdowns the week after a victory.
After those follow-up losses, one of the most popular reasons given by the players and coaching staff have been a lack of focus. Cable feels pretty confident that his team won’t have that problem this weekend. “I am good, because we talked about it right after that San Diego win: how we needed to handle this week,” said Cable about his team’s focus. “And there’s kind of been a reminder every day — of what the purpose is and what we need to do to succeed this Sunday. So, I feel really good about it.”
Whether or not the Raiders take an early lead, Cable said that his team is prepared for another game decided late. “This will be a dogfight. This game will be down to the wire. It will be decided in the fourth quarter.”
The Raiders very well could be keeping a lid on what they truly think because they are taking cues from Cable. When asked about much of the trash talking that went on when the two teams scrimmaged for a week prior to the 2009 season, the Raiders coach was clear on what he thought about it. “I know that when you go between the lines, all that talk don’t mean nothing. That’s what I know.”
- Cable told reporters that his starting quarterback for Sunday will be Jason Campbell. Even though Gradkowski is getting better, and even threw a little, he’s being listed as questionable at this point. Should Gradkowski show that he’s much improved from his A-C joint injury just prior to the game, Cable said that it’s possible he could be moved up to backup for the game.
- There’s nothing to read from the quarterback situation. Cable has already said that when Gradkowski is healthy, he’ll be starting and Campbell will be his number two. He’s also said that he would be just as comfortable with Kyle Boller getting into the game. He talked about the quarterback room on Friday. “It’s always like a big study session. They’re always working, talking. Talking situations – how would you handle this? Do you see this? They all study so much film I think every one of them brings something to the table, some tendencies, some body language, some something that helps the guys that are playing.“
- Cable was asked again whether or not the offense changes when he changes quarterbacks. The short answer is no. “You got to remember, now, there’s 10 other guys in that huddle, so there’s a system in place,” began Cable. “Now, there’s some strengths of Jason that you would want to kind of lean to a little bit, just as you would do with Bruce. In terms of saying it would change or be different, no.“
- Darren McFadden is also questionable for Sunday. He, like Gradkowski, will also be a gametime decision. Also like Gradkowski, McFadden’s hamstring injury is key to how he can perform. So Cable could very likely rule both players out in order to avoid re-injury to either player. Cable did say that McFadden, “feels pretty good.“
Robert Gallery (hamstring) – PROBABLE
Daniel Loper (ankle) – PROBABLE
Jeremy Ware (hamstring) – PROBABLE
Limited in Practice:
Johnnie Lee Higgins (knee) – QUESTIONABLE
Darren McFadden (hamstring) – QUESTIONABLE
Quentin Groves (hamstring) – QUESTIONABLE
Did Not Practice:
Chaz Schilens (knee) – OUT
Michael Bennett (hamstring) – OUT
Bruce Gradkowski (shoulder) – QUESTIONABLE
Travis Goethel (back) – OUT
Thomas Howard (knee) – OUT
John Henderson (foot) – OUT