Running game finds no solace this week

JaMarcus Russell is making progress but the debate is between Daunte Culpepper and Josh McCown. The running game needs a jolt and Tennessee is a tough nut to crack. How big an impact will LenDale White, a USC alumnus, have? Lane Kiffin answered that and more.

on the status of Raiders QB Josh McCown

Lane Kiffin: We're going to see what he can do then.

on if McCown will play this weekend

Lane Kiffin: He might. Obviously we haven't been out to practice this week, so we're going to see how much he can do for us today.

on if current starting QB Daunte Culpepper will start, or if rookie QB JaMarcus Russell will start

Lane Kiffin: No, JaMarcus would not play in a normal situation this week. We're going to continue to develop him and bring him along, and push him as far as we can push him.

on how Russell has progressed since missing the preseason due to a contract hold-out

Lane Kiffin: He's doing well. There are so many little things we have to catch up with, obviously, with all of the time missed. We'll never be able to replace the preseason games that he missed. But we're moving forward with him and we're really excited for when he'll eventually play.

on how often he talks to his father, Monte Kiffin, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' defensive coordinator

Lane Kiffin: I talk to him daily. I did the same thing in college. That's just the type of relationship we have. Obviously there is even more to talk about now, both being in the same league and now playing the same team two weeks ago.

on what the Titans will miss without injured FB Ahmard Hall

Lane Kiffin: The thing about Tennessee is that they're going to run the ball. It's not necessarily going to be runs they run. It's about how well they do things. As we continue to watch (film), I'm just amazed at how consistent the offensive line is. You're talking about an offensive line that, besides false-start penalties, doesn't have a penalty all season. I don't even know how you do that. We've got 24 on our offensive line. It's just a great job that the staff there and the players there have done. Obviously it's going to be a big test for us.

on the matchup between Oakland's run game and Tennessee's run defense

Lane Kiffin: I don't know that [our run game] is really a strength right now. We've struggled the last two weeks in running the ball. I wish it was strength versus strength. Obviously [the run defense] is a strength of Tennessee's. They're by far the number one rush defense in the league – there's nobody close to them. Nobody's had success against them. As you're speaking of tests, that's about as good a test as you can have, especially on the road.

on playing the Titans in Nashville at LP Field

Lane Kiffin: We've played three road games. Miami was not a very loud atmosphere because there was a thunderstorm before we started and they sent us in. Half the people had left, so that worked to our favor. In Denver, we had a thunderstorm as well, but nobody left at Mile High Stadium. So that place was rocking. The Chargers, both being divisional games, both stadiums were extremely loud. I remember being at Jacksonville six or seven years ago. We went there to play and the place was as loud as any place we went all year. So there is a lot to deal with. We're going to have to do a really good job to be able to be in this game and to handle the situations and the adversity that happen on the road in a hostile environment. We have not done a very good job of that at times, so we'll need to improve.

on the Raiders' first-down defense

Lane Kiffin: We've actually started to play better on third-down. On the first-down defense, I think we're 31 st in the league in average-per-play on first down. So that's a concern of ours. A lot of those are big plays happening. We've given up a number of explosive plays, especially in the run game. We did play better last week – it was our best game of the year so far on defense. So we'll need to continue to improve and we'll have our hands full this week.

on Oakland having no fumble recoveries this season

Lane Kiffin: We have not done a good job. If you go back to the presesason, we have one fumble recovery all year. So you're looking at 10 games now with one fumble recovery. It's something that we emphasize and obviously we have not done a good enough job with that.

on his relationship with Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow

Lane Kiffin: It was a great experience for me to be able to not only work for Norm, but also be next to him in the box for all four of those years that we were together [at Southern California]. I just learned so much from him about handling the players and dealing with adversity in so many situations. I was really fortunate to be in that position. You're talking about the most successful coordinator in the history of college football, by far, with offenses and quarterbacks. I was fortunate to be in the situation I was in.

on if there were any hard feelings when Chow left the Trojans to come to Tennessee

Lane Kiffin: No. Norm hard a wonderful opportunity to go work for Jeff (Fisher) and go make a lot of money in the NFL, and take a new challenge on. He was excited about it and has obviously done a great job. That's all there was to it.

on Titans WR Roydell Williams

Lane Kiffin: He's found a way to make some really crucial plays here of late. I know in the offseason that the receivers were a concern, but he's stepping up and sure helping the group. We see [Tennessee's] offense as a very dangerous offense – they're very hard to contain. It's kind of ‘pick your poison.' Do you want to get up there and stop LenDale (White) and Chris (Brown) or do you want to stay back and stop Vince (Young) from throwing the ball downfield to these guys. So we're in for a tough battle.

on what type of running back LenDale White will ultimately be in the NFL

Lane Kiffin: I think a lot of that is up to LenDale. He's got great feet, great hands. With bigger backs, it's how they stay in the offseason, the condition they stay in as the years keep piling on in the league. So that has a lot to do with whether guys maintain and become 10-year guys, or whether they become five-year guys. LenDale does have great ability.

on White's weight at USC and his progress in addressing it

Lane Kiffin: I think LenDale matured a lot at USC. When we first got him, he was not a workout guy. That wasn't who he was – I'm sure he'll be the first one to tell you that. He improved on that and had great success. It just goes back to show you how much confidence we had in him and all the heat that I took, specifically, on the fourth-and-two versus Texas in the (2005) national championship game with three national championships on the line. We gave the ball to LenDale instead of (Heisman Trophy winner) (Reggie) Bush and that shows how much confidence we had in him. He just had great ability and was a great player, and really brought it on gameday.

on whether the spread offense is a trend around the league

Lane Kiffin: I think it all depends on your personnel at times, and who you play. That's just the way we face it. There are times to do that and there are certain teams that's not going to work against, for whatever reason. Either you can't block their defensive ends, or whatever the situation is. I don't know that I'd necessarily say that it's a trend. I just think it has to do with who you're playing and the personnel you have. That's obviously something Vince did great through his years in college – getting in the shotgun and being spreading out and making plays.

on more teams running out of the shotgun

Lane Kiffin: As you've seen, in whatever you want to call it – the college option – you guys have run with Vince and that Atlanta ran a bunch last year with Michael (Vick). That is something that hasn't been done in this league that is extremely hard to defend and it's something we're spending a bunch of time on this week.


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