Raiders turn things up a notch in camp

While the rest of the sporting world debates the merits of the Great Walkout, the Raiders seemed ready to put the issue behind and concentrate on their preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Oakland certainly had the look of a team eager for a game during Monday's practice, a spirited workout that was highlighted by a pair of hard hits during a morning intra-squad scrimmage.

‘' We needed to get back in pads and mix it up, get our timing down,'' said Raiders head coach Bill Callahan. ‘'I thought it was very, very good. Both sides competed (and) a lot of guys stepped up. That's the nature of the practice. We want it as competitive as possible.''

Oakland's first training camp under Callahan hasn't been as grueling nor intense as the previous four ran by former head coach Jon Gruden. Part of that is due to Callahan's more easy-going nature and part is due to the head coach's plan to pace the players. Last year the Raiders dropped their final three regular season games and there was talk that the team was tired down the stretch.

But things picked up in a big way Monday. First, right guard Mo Collins leveled safety Johnnie Harris on a screen pass from Rich Gannon to Charlie Garner. Collins was coming around the right side of the line and caught Harris off guard, sending him sprawling to the turf while the rest of the players watching roared in approval.

Not to be outdone, however, the Raiders defense took revenge on the next play. This time second-year safety Derrick Gibson lowered his right shoulder and dropped wide receiver James Jett to the ground after Jett had caught a short pass. Jett immediately got to his feet and glared at Gibson before walking away.

‘'We were in a thud tempo and it's high and hard,'' said Callahan. ‘'When it's high and hard like that and Mo Collins pulls flat on a screen and gets a good shot on Johnnie Harris, it's a fair shot. It's a fair shot, it's straight up and that's just the nature of the game.

‘'It was fun. It was a lot of fun.''

The Raiders will get a chance to have some fun with the Cowboys on Friday when both teams kick off their preseason slate. Neither team is expected to play its starters more than one or two series, though some of the training camp position battles will finally start taking shape a bit more.

‘'I think they see the light at the end of the tunnel,'' said Callahan of his players. ‘'There's a sense of urgency now and it's starting to collectively pick up.''

CAMP NOTES

The Raiders continued preparations for the Cowboys game. Gannon isn't likely to play more than one series, leaving Marques Tuiasosopo and Rick Mirer to handle the brunt of the workload. Callahan also noted that weakside linebacker Eric Barton will probably play longer than fellow starters Greg Biekert and Bill Romanowski. Likewise safeties Harris, Gibson and Anthony Dorsett are also likely to see extended playing time in Dallas … Linebacker Mike Jones returned to practice in a limited role while he still tries to mend from a broken finger on his right hand … Offensive lineman Chad Slaughter injured his right shoulder during 9-on-7 drills and had to undergo a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan. Results were not immediately available … Quarterback Ronald Curry was excused from the beginning of practice Monday for personal reasons. Curry, Oakland's seventh-round draft pick, returned to the field before the end of the morning workout … Tight end Doug Jolley continues to rehab his groin strain. Jolley has already been ruled out of Friday's game against the Cowboys and is now concentrating on playing against Tennessee on Aug. 15.


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