Unfortunately, I’ve missed some time here at 1220 Harbor Bay Parkway, but I was able to make it today. At .500 this late in the season for the first time in years, coupled with the end of the Giants’ World Series run, the Raiders have definitely become the relevant news story for the Bay Area judging by the number of reporters in the locker room today.
Among the notables here who haven’t been in the past: Pedro Gomez of ESPN, Jim Trotter of Sports Illustrated, and everyone’s favorite Raider Hater — Tim Kawakami. There were plenty of others, but those are the most notable that I haven’t seen yet this season.
When is the last time the Raiders were relevant? 2002, the year they lost in the Super Bowl? 2003, the year of the ‘dumbest team in America?’ Some might say that it was 2004 — the year that Gannon’s career was ended due to a neck injury. Whatever year it was, it has been some time since the Raiders were newsworthy for anything having to do with on-field performance.
Along with a mostly empty locker room, the media was allowed to watch the first 20 minutes of practice, which was an uneventful 15 minutes of stretching. Along with the usual missing players like Chaz Schilens, Nnamdi Asomugha and Zach Miller were also missing from the field.
The Oakland Raiders requested a 24-hour extension on ticket sales in order to avoid a local blackout of the game. In recent years, the request for an extension has led to a sell out and the game being televised locally. No guarantees, and we’ll know for sure by 1:15 pm Friday, but it’s looking good that you won’t have to rely solely on Greg Papa’s radio broadcast, the Red Zone Channel, and NFL.com’s internet gamecast to find out what’s going on in the game.
With Asomugha most likely missing this Sunday’s game and with Chris Johnson returning to fill his place, Jeremy Ware will get the call as the nickel back. The rookie, who up until last week, has mainly watched from the sideline with three starters standing in his way, but he admitted that this week will require a little more preparation on his part.
“I just maybe focus more,” said Ware about preparing with the knowledge of plenty of playing time this week. “Just focus a little more, study a little more. Do a little bit extra.” Whatever that extra is, the Raiders would be very happy if he was able to perform as well or better than he did against the Seahawks.
Ware is getting more comfortable as a pro. He told reporters this morning that with every game, he just gets more and more familiar with his job responsibilities. “All the games just add up,” said Ware. “The more time you get, the more comfortable you get and the better you get.”
It sometimes takes rookies more time to adjust to the Raiders’ type of corner coverage, but for Ware it hasn’t been too much different than college. Ware told the media that at Michigan State, he played, “All man.” That may be the reason that Tom Cable hasn’t been concerned about putting him in — and has had good things to say about him this week.
Another rookie making his way this season is left defensive end Lamarr Houston. Houston, like Ware, told reporters that his recent improvement is due to the experience he’s received from every game. “Every game you get to play you learn something different,” said the rookie from Texas. “I’ve been playing about eight games. It’s fun getting into rhythm and pick up things and be able to understand what’s going on out there. It makes it a lot easier once you get your feet wet.”
Houston and his defensive line mates will be tested this week with the Kansas City rushing game. Jamaal Charles has two fewer yards than Darren McFadden (666 on 103 carries) on 19 fewer carries — giving him an average of 6.5 yards per carry on the season. Charles and Houston were college teammates for three years and so the Raider rookie has a good understanding of what he’ll have to deal with.
“[The Chiefs] got a lot of speed. I went to school with Jamaal, he likes to get on the edge fast. McCluster he is fast. You have a lot of good skill guys, the rookie tight end and Dwayne Bowe. They have a lot of options and they scheme well. Their offensive coordinator schemes really well for the teams they play. That’s how they’re getting the domination in the scoring.”
Cable is about to come into the press room for his daily update. Check back later this evening for more!