Hits come often at Raiders' camp

It's a given that defenses that usually a step or two ahead of offenses early in training camp. That was evident Saturday when the Raiders held their first two-a-day practice, highlighted by a hard-hitting blocking drill between running backs and linebackers.

Rookie fullback Orenthal O'Neal was the first to get tested and he found out quickly why Thomas Howard is considered one of the top young linebackers in the league. Howard sprinted toward O'Neal, then when the rookie lowered his head and shoulders to block, slid to his right and danced quickly past O'Neal for what would have been an easy sack.

Justin Fargas also had a rough go of things, as did LaMont Jordan who twice got beat, once by Kirk Morrison.

Oakland's defense came out on top in the majority of the matchups except for when fullback Justin Griffith was in. Griffith held his own each time he lined up, showing exactly why the Raiders signed him.

"That was for a purpose," Coach Lane Kiffin said. "We need to find out who these players are and find out what we have on our team. Then we'll have to go from there." There were other highlights:

· Quarterback Josh McCown threw two interceptions in the morning workout after having no turnovers on Thursday. One of the picks wasn't his fault; the ball slipped through the hands of receiver Chris McFoy and landed in the arms of backup safety B.J. Ward. McCown has been nursing a sore foot -- he had it stepped on twice in practice already -- but later showed some good mobility when he scampered out of the pocket and took off downfield for a 50-yard run in the evening practice.

With Oakland's offensive line still a question mark, that's a good sign for the Raiders. McCown won't be the runner that Rich Gannon was. Think of him as a younger, slightly more mobile Jeff Hostetler. Good enough to get out of trouble if need be but better off staying in the pocket.

· Mike Williams snuck past Stanford Routt and Duane Starks to haul in a long reception from McCown. Another good sign because Williams could be the wild card in Oakland's receiving corps. He needs to stay healthy, but with his size, he could be a match-up problem for defenses who already have to contend with Jerry Porter, Ronald Curry and Travis Taylor.

· Warren Sapp and Sam Williams got into a heated debate following a blown play by the defense. At one point Sapp slammed his helmet to the ground in frustration and walked away while Williams pleaded his case. The animated talk lasted for about five minutes and ended with Sapp giving Williams a playful slap on the top of his helmet.

· Center Jeremy Newberry and Randal Williams joined Derrick Burgess and did not work out in the evening. Newberry's absence was planned due to his history of knee injuries. No reason was given for Williams missing the practice.

· The Raiders signed quarterback Cody Pickett, who spent two seasons with San Francisco. Pickett was traded to Houston prior to 2006 but was released before the start of the regular season.


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