Raiders notebook

So much for the Oakland Raiders emphasis of the long-ball with quarterback Kerry Collins. Not that the team is remaking its approach per se but the quarterback might be making more judicious use of the long ball, at least if you heard him talk on Wednesday.

When the Oakland Raiders signed Collins as a free agent from the New York Giants; it was generally assumed that he was a better fit for the Raiders approach of emphasizing the vertical passing game under first-year head coach Norv Turner.

Collins performance in the exhibition season only encouraged that belief among fans and some members of the media. Collins connected with wide receiver Doug Gabriel for touchdown passes of 34, 89 and 45 yards and completed another touchdown of 60 yards to Alvis Whitted. For those scoring at home, that's four completions for 228 yards.

When Collins took over for the injured Rich Gannon, it was assumed that Collins would transist seamlessly into Turner's offense. Despite making progress in a 31-26 loss to the New Orleans Saints in which he threw for 350 yards, two touchdowns and just one interception, Collins' performance has not been what Oakland envisioned. Collins has a quarterback rating of 63.7, four touchdowns and nine interceptions.

What is even more telling is the part of Collins game where he is most adept, the long ball, has not been as evident.

"Teams are taking things away," Collins said. "I think that's normal. I don't think you can compare the preseason to the regular season. Teams are a lot more scared about getting beat in the regular season."

Collins added that many of those turnovers stem from taking unnecessary risks, just don't expect the long ball to go by the way side.

"I think I can be smarter when the shot is not there and take what the defense is giving me," Collins said. "I might be better off getting to my second read sometimes. That's Norv's style and I think it becomes up to me to get it to the right guy."

Run defense watch ,

The Raiders rebuilt defense has had its ups and downs but the true measure will come Sunday when the team visits the San Diego Chargers.

Oakland did a decent job against the run against Pittsburgh (107 yards) and was exceptional the next two weeks against Buffalo (67) and Tampa Bay (92). Then, the next three weeks they were horrible against Houston (162), Indianapolis (150) and Denver (254). Oakland shut down the run against New Orleans last Sunday with Deuce McAllister producing all of the Saints 42 yards rushing.

This week, however, is a much greater challenge going against LaDainian Tomlinson, who many believe is the best all-around back in the entire NFL along with possibly Priest Holmes of Kansas City.

The Raiders had a good look at the back of Tomlinson's jersey in two games last season in which he combined to produce 59 carries for 430 yards and three touchdowns.

"That guy is one of the best backs in the league," Raiders inside linebacker Danny Clark said. "We just have to be disciplined football players."


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