Shell's message felt on Friday

A day after cutting practice short and sending his players off the field, Raiders head coach Art Shell tried to downplay the incident but Oakland's players sang another tune, saying the coach sent a message to the team that was received loud and clear.

That was apparent during Friday's practice, which was more spirited and lively than the previous day's workout.

On Thursday, an hour into a scheduled two-hour afternoon practice session, Shell summoned his players together in a large circle and spoke quietly while conveying his frustrations. After a brief discussion Shell dismissed the team -- coaches and all -- from the field while he angrily walked off.

On Friday, Shell was much more pleased with how things went.

''I thought practice today was very good,'' Shell said. ''A good practice, a lot of attention, a lot of focus.''

When asked what spurred his decision to cut Thursday's practice short, Shell said simply that ''I just decided to give them the rest of the day off. That's all. Just give them the day off.''

Oakland players, though, had a different version. Many refused to discuss the incident but those that did said it was evident Shell was unhappy with the mood and tone of the practice.

''I think we kind of needed to step away from it and refocus ourselves,'' quarterback Aaron Brooks said Friday. ''It's part of camp. We had a nice meeting, we all talked about it and we came out here for a better day today.

''I thought it was the right approach. I think at a time like that you don't want to overemphasize yelling. I don't think out on the field we were at top speed like what you guys had been seeing. I thought we were sluggish.''

That wasn't the case Friday, particularly on defense.

Defensive tackle Warren Sapp made a one-handed interception in the backfield during a scrimmage drill while backup safety Jarrod Cooper made a diving interception in front of wide receiver Jerry Porter.

Offensively, the Raiders' running game started to show signs of life. Running back LaMont Jordan found a huge hole on the left side of the line during one play and cut upfield for a huge gain. Backup quarterback Andrew Walter later threw a perfect pass to tight end Marcellus Rivers that split the gap between safeties Michael Huff and Stuart Schweigert.

The workout put Shell in a much better mood than he was a day earlier, enabling the head coach to fondly look forward to his long-awaited return to the Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders host San Francisco on Sunday night and it will be Shell's first appearance at the Raiders home since he was an assistant coach with Kansas City.

''It's going to mean a lot,'' Shell said. ''Coming back home, being in front of the rabid fans that we have, the loyal fans that we have, it's a great group of people to be in front of and have cheer for you. I know you go around the country and everybody talks about one of the worst places you can play is Oakland because of the noise and the fans. The fans kind of intimidate people sometimes. But we have to go out and play well to give our fans something to cheer about.''

Porter is expected to play against the 49ers after sitting out the first two games. But left guard Barry Sims (elbow) won't play. Team officials were concerned that Sims had suffered damage to his right triceps as well but an MRI test on Thursday showed no significant damage.

Shell also said he expects the Raiders starters to play a full half against San Francisco.

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