Raiders notes: Expectations high

From the offense to the defense, special teams to reserves - everyone is expected to take on more responsibility and step up their game. It isn't every day that a Hall of Famer comes back to coach, after all. But Art Shell is setting the bar high - and by doing so he hopes his team follows suit.

  • Wide receiver Kevin McMahan was excited to be the center of attention in "Mr. Irrelevant" proceedings in Newport Beach, Calif.

    The Raiders even granted McMahan five days off from his work in Alameda for the festivities.

    For the record, the Raiders had "Mr. Irrelevant" picks in 2003 and 2004 and neither made the team. Wide receiver Ryan Hoag was released and has spent some camp time with the Minnesota Vikings. Linebacker Andre Sommersell played in the CFL with Edmonton.

  • Running back Justin Fargas has seen his numbers decline in each of his first three seasons due to injury and ineffectiveness, with a low of five carries for 28 yards last season.

    Shell says Fargas looks like a new man.

    "I don't look at it as a make or break year. Justin is doing well. He has really improved," Shell said. "I was talking to (running backs coach Skip Peete) and he said, `I'm seeing Justin doing some things out there I haven't seen him do over the last couple of years.' That comes from maturity."

  • Safety Jarrod Cooper likes the idea that only precious few players appear safe when it comes to their starting roles under Shell.

    "It's upped the competition in this room times 10," Cooper said. "Nobody feels safe, which is good. That's how you get people to compete, when you're competing for your job all the time."

  • Shell did not sound overly concerned about place kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who managed to stay out of trouble last season but missed a third of his 30 field goal attempts.

    "It's more mental than anything else," Shell said. "He's had the same guy holding for him all these years, so that hasn't changed. He'll be fine. I told him I expect him to be in the Pro Bowl this year. He has that kind of talent."

    During Oakland's first mini-camp, Shell put pressure on Janikowski by making his teammates run laps every time he missed a kick.

  • "We're going to block until the quarterback gets rid of the ball, until the whistle blows, head coach Art Shell said of his expectations from his offensive line. "It's not about getting the ball out in 1.5 seconds or 2.2 seconds or whatever it is. We have never been about that. The mentality is, you block, block, block."
  • Backup quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo spent a recent evening at Municipal Park in San Jose, watching the Inland Empire 66ers face the San Jose Giants of the Class A California League.

    Inland Empire's third baseman is 20-year-old Matt Tuiasosopo, a third-round draft pick who received a $2.29 million signing bonus from the Seattle Mariners to go pro and bypass a career playing quarterback for the University of Washington.

    Marques, who said he watches Matt every chance he gets, said he has marveled how much his brother has improved playing baseball every day.

    However, Matt struck out three times in the series opener against San Jose, delighting the local crowd. Matt Tuiasosopo was designated that night as the "Beer Batter," meaning that every time he struck out, beer was sold for half price.

    "He gave out a lot of beer," Marques Tuiasosopo said.


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