Nnamdi Asomugha surprised more than a few people with his decision to sign the Raiders' franchise tender late but the veteran cornerback said it was an easy call.
"I wanted to put everything else behind me and just show up," Asomugha said. "I had heard all the apocryphal stories during the offseason of what was going on so I wanted to put everything to rest and just show up.
"I had a lot of people saying don't show up and I had enough people saying show it up so it helped me out. I sought out the counsel that was needed in this situation and I was able to come and be here."
Asomugha wasted no time in making his presence felt, making a good read then stepping in front of Javon Walker to intercept a pass from Andrew Walter.
Although there had been speculation that the two sides had been close to reaching an agreement on a long-term contract, Asomugha sounded as if that wasn't true.
"We went back and forth a few times and weren't able to come up with it, so it depends on what you mean by close," Asomugha said. "But the franchise tag was here so I said OK, what else are you going to do. You've got to play this out and see what happens at the end of the year.
"When I was talking to a lot of the players, they were so surprised that I came. But at the same time they weren't because they know it's not about money for me. I really want to win games. That's a big part of why I'm here. It's putting that on the line, that you could get hurt, and those types of things. But it's in the name of being a cohesive unit and coming together and trying to win football games."
Kiffin was just happy to have his starting secondary in place after an offseason makeover that included the additions of cornerback DeAngelo Hall and safety Gibril Wilson.
"It shows who (Asomugha) is," Kiffin said. "Here's a guy that very easily could have sat out and a number of people, possibly his agent, were telling him to and he decided it was more important to be with his team and to get ready for this season and be with the guys. It shows his character and what he's about."
· Meanwhile, Javon Walker took part in his first practice since being found unconscious on a Las Vegas street after being attacked and beaten. While everyone was hoping to hear from Walker exactly what happened that night, the veteran wide receiver politely declined, likely because the case against the two men arrested in the attack is ongoing.
There was no evidence of the facial trauma and injuries he supposedly suffered during the attack. A Las Vegas police report indicated Walker had suffered a fractured jaw and fractured right orbital bone.
"I ain't talking about that," Walker said.
Asked if the details in the police report were wrong, Walker shrugged.
"I don't even know. I ain't even heard it," he said. "You're all telling me something new for the first time. To tell the truth, I haven't really seen nothing about it. I just let everybody go into speculations of what they heard and what they think they know, to when I get ready to come out and tell what really happened. I'll clear it up then."
And that time isn't today?
"Nah, it ain't today. It's too soon for that," Walker said.
Walker did talk about his first day of training camp with the Raiders. After being chastised by Kiffin for being overweight in the offseason, Walker was noticeably slimmer in practice and showed no lingering effects from the knee injuries that have plagued him in recent years.
"I was out there doing everything today. I'm healthy as can be, not limited from anything," Walker said.
· Defensive tackle Tommy Kelly broke a four-year silence with the media when he stopped after practice and chatted with reporters.
Kelly, who signed a $50 million contract in the offseason and inherits the position left vacant by Warren Sapp's retirement, looked strong after sitting out OTAs and minicamps while rehabbing from knee surgery.
"He's stronger than he's ever been and you can see that, the movement in the pocket," Kiffin said. "He probably had three sacks today if we would have let him bring down JaMarcus. He was really pushing the pocket really strong, and as he continues to get his weight down you'll see even more quickness come out as well."
Kelly admitted he was surprised to receive such a lucrative contract from the Raiders but noted that people shouldn't expect the same type of player that Sapp was.
"Sapp is more of a finesse guy, he danced," Kelly said. "I'm a little more aggressive, I try to get into my man."
· Tight end Fred Wakefield lined up with the defense and was taking reps at defensive end. The plan is to have the veteran continue to work on both sides of the ball, though the emphasis for now appears to be on defense.
· Quarterbacks Sam Keller and Jeff Otis, along with defensive lineman Tranell Morant were cut. The moves leave the Raiders with only three quarterbacks in camp, but Kiffin said he expects that to change in the coming days.
· Running back LaMont Jordan has been told to stay away from practice while he continues to seek a trade to another team. That isn't likely to happen, at least not until another team loses a running back in camp to injury.
· Second-year offensive lineman Mario Henderson is listed as the backup to starting right tackle Cornell Green but Henderson was taking reps at left tackle as well.
· Jake Grove handled all the first-team reps at center but Kiffin warned not to read too much into it. John Wade will get his shot as will Chris Morris, who took some reps at right guard with the second offense while Wade ran center.
"They'll decide who plays there by the way they practice and the way they play in the preseason," Kiffin said. "All three of them will get a shot. Jake will get a lot of reps when he's out here because he's at a one-a-day. Those other two have two practices to get all their reps so you'll see more of Jake when he's practicing than the other guys."
· Ricky Brown and not Robert Thomas was playing strongside linebacker when the first-team defense got on the field. Brown had a solid offseason and has worked his way up the depth chart. Thomas worked at middle linebacker with the second-string unit while Brown stayed at strong side with the second unit in an effort to get additional reps at the spot.
· Kiffin has raved about the hands of running backs Darren McFadden and Michael Bush but Justin Fargas hasn't been as consistent. During a skeletal passing drill he dropped a long but catchable pass from quarterback Andrew Walter.
· Speaking of McFadden, the rookie running back was sensational in his first training camp practice. McFadden darted through holes, made swift cuts and left defenders grabbing at air. At one point, his feet moved so quick they slipped out from underneath him.
"Darren really showed up today," Kiffin said. "(He) had a number of explosive plays on the ground. Didn't catch the ball very well but I thought his speed really showed on a number of plays."
· Fourth-round draft pick Arman Shields made some nice plays, going to the ground to make one catch. Shields missed much of the offseason with an injury and is behind the rest of the receivers but he got off to a good start in camp.
· Wide receiver Drew Carter made the catch of the day when he ripped the ball out of the hands of defensive back Michael Waddell then took off downfield.
· Michael Huff, now at free safety, made a good play to break up a pass from JaMarcus Russell for tight end Tony Stewart. Those are plays the Huff was hesitant to make while at strong safety down in the box so it's a definite positive sign.
· Second-year wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins ran an inside slant route but dropped a quick throw from Russell. "Set a standard, offense, set a standard," running backs coach Tom Rathman yelled.
· Two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Derrick Burgess had an outstanding practice, albeit at the expense of right tackle Cornell Green. Burgess, who doesn't appear to have an ounce of body fat, breezed past Green twice and had no problems getting to the quarterback no matter who Oakland put in front of him.
· Paul Hackett has indeed been hired as a team consultant but the Raiders say he'll have nothing to do with the players. Instead, Hackett -- noted for his work with quarterbacks like Joe Montana -- will serve as an advance scout for Oakland.
"He'll always be watching a team a week before us," Kiffin said. "He won't be involved in any coaching or working with the players but he'll assist with that and keep us a week in advance."
Training camp notebook, July 24
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