The question of the day -- actually the question of the season -- was
answered by the Raiders Wednesday.
At least partially.
"Concerning Rich Gannon's status, if we had to play this week he would
not play," coach Bill Callahan said.
The Raiders do not have to play this week. It is their bye week. On Nov. 2,
they travel to Detroit.
"Going into the Detroit game, if he can medically prepare himself and get back
from injury, he would be the starter going into the Detroit game.
"If he's incapable of playing in that game, then our preparation would surround
Marques Tuiasosopo. That being said, if he (Gannon) was out for the Detroit game
we would have to play (wide receiver) Ronald Curry as the third quarterback.
"That's where we are right now."
That was news, in as much as talk of Gannon's being benched in favor of
Tuiasosopo has been circulating in Bay Area media ever since the third-year
quarterback sparked the team to a come-from-behind effort Monday night
against Kansas City.
But the Raiders seem determined not to pass out any further news ...
such as exactly what the injury to Gannon's right shoulder entails and
what the prognosis is for his recovery.
"You can speak to Rich about that," Callahan said. "What I can tell you
is that it (the injury) does affect the throwing motion. I'm not going to get
into the depth of the injury. You know my policy about that."
Callahan's policy has been to offer as little information about injuries
as possible without violating league policy. And this week, he does not
have to issue an injury report since there is no game.
"Talk to him and see if he would like to visit with you about that," Callahan
So the trail led to Gannon, who was asked the outcome of the MRI he had
"I'm not talking today," Gannon said. "Ask Bill."
But the coach said to ask you.
"Ask Bill," Gannon repeated.
Callahan: "Next week we'll see where he's at. We'll determine his status by
Wednesday of next week. We'll see how he responds to rest and recuperation.
"I told the team today, Rich is our starter. If we have to move into a direction
with Tui predicated on health reasons, all our support would be towards Marques
Tuiasosopo. I think the team understands my stance on it."
What is not understood by any means is whether the MRI indicated Gannon had
no more than a bruise or whether it went the other way, involving rotator cuff damage.
And that is precisely the way the Raiders like it.
NOTES, QUOTES, ANECDOTES
--Free safety Rod Woodson has heard enough about the Raiders' aging problems.
"The hardest part (of the team's 2-5 start) is we know we're a good football team,"
he said. "Everybody says we're older than we were. We're eight months older (than
the team that went to the Super Bowl). Hello? Is that 10 years? Do you hit the wall
in eight months? No. But when you read it every day in print and hear it on television,
it's like the call. These guys are experts so they've got to be right.
"So now, instead of being in our late 30s, we're all in our 50s and if that's the
case, then I am REALLY blessed."
--Right tackle Lincoln Kennedy had been sidelined and had not been practicing
for a month until last week when the team finally decided to activate him as an
emergency fill-in in case one of their players got hurt.
Sure enough, Kennedy's replacement, Langston Walker, was injured on the
team's first offensive series.
"At first, I'm asking 'How bad is it?' I didn't know if it was a temporary thing,"
Kennedy said. "But I had been preparing all week just in case, so I knew what
I could do and couldn't do."
Walker went back in shortly thereafter but was unable to continue. Kennedy
played most of the rest of the game. Then his problem became finishing.
"That was hard," he said. "Especially in the fourth quarter when we had those
long drives. I was really sucking wind. But you have to do the best you can in that
situation and find the energy somewhere."
--Coach Bill Callahan deplored the up-front blocking on the kickoff returns,
saying he would hate to be return specialist Ronney Jenkins.
Jenkins didn't find that amusing in the least.
"I believe I can still make plays," he said. "But we just have to buckle down
and believe in one another. Each individual has to focus on their plays like they
would study on offense or defense. They need to take their (expletive) seriously.
(Kansas City's) Dante Hall, his squad takes its (stuff) seriously. That's how it is.
I've been in situations where people took their (stuff) seriously and we got the
"I'm not pointing fingers because there was a return where I broke outside and
I should have just kept going upfield. We all make bad decisions. I don't dwell
on that. We just need to pay more attention to what we have to do.
"During preseason, we were breaking long returns. But that only goes so far.
It seems like since the regular season started, everybody is almost confused ...
like we don't know what we're doing. I just don't understand that."
Jenkins ranks 16th in the NFL in kickoff returns with a 22.8 average and a
long return of 33 yards.
BY THE NUMBERS: 26.4 -- The Raiders' third-down conversion percentage
on offense, second lowest in the NFL to Atlanta's 24.7 percent.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Every week the backups are getting beat up so we've
got to bring in backups to back up the backups the next week." -- LG Frank
Middleton on the Raiders' injury status.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
As bye week practices got underway, coach Bill Callahan said that the injury
list presented to him by the team's trainer consisted of 23 names on the 53-man
"We're going to use this bye as best we can to get players healthy," he said.
"We had to modify practice today. We couldn't even work against the scout
team today. We had to work against whatever we had out there. If we were
to play a game this weekend, we would be in a little trouble."
Callahan would not recite the entire list of 23 injured players but did note
that nine were unable to practice Wednesday.
With QB Rich Gannon's status monumentally unclear, the team will work
wide receiver Ronald Curry in as a potential third quarterback in case his
services are needed on Nov. 2 against Detroit.
Curry was drafted as a quarterback, washed out, was tried as a kick returner
but eventually landed on the roster as a wide receiver after making great strides
in training camp this year. He has been playing on special teams and made four
tackles at Chicago playing on the coverage teams. He no longer is involved in returns.
With no injury report forthcoming on the bye week, here are the nine players
who could not practice Wednesday.
--LG Frank Middleton (quad), who had vowed to return to action after the
bye against Detroit, seemed less adamant about that. "I'm trying," he said. "I
don't like to watch football." He ran lightly Wednesday.
--QB Rich Gannon (shoulder) took what Callahan said were "mental reps"
but is unable to throw. It is unknown whether the original diagnosis of a bruised
right shoulder still holds. Neither the Raiders nor Gannon will comment on the
results of his MRI and the team trainer is prohibited from discussing injuries.
--LB Eric Barton (shoulder) is a new addition to the injured list. The extent
of the injury, in Callahan's words, is "just a shoulder right now."
--LB Bill Romanowski (concussion) may be placed on injured reserve any
day now because the team has so many injuries it needs active bodies.
--DRT John Parrella (groin) is out indefinitely.
--DLT Dana Stubblefield (ankle) has been absent from practices for three
weeks but continues to play. The bye week rest could result in his return to
--DE Sam Williams (knee) has only played in one game and practiced once
since Week 2 and is out indefinitely.
--FS Rod Woodson (knee) has also been a non-practicing starter since his
knee surgery in September. He said his goal was to recover sufficiently to resume
practicing next week.
--WR Jerry Porter (abdomen) returned to action against Kansas City and had
a big game (4 catches for 69 yards and drew an interference penalty for 21 yards)
but reported soreness afterwards. Callahan said it was not a setback.
--RT Lincoln Kennedy (calf) aggravated his injury going virtually the distance
against Kansas City but said it was a mile setback.
--RT Langston Walker (knee) had to leave the game but was well enough to
work lightly Wednesday.
--RG Mo Collins (knee) was inactive for the second straight game and could
be back with a week's rest.