Training camp notebook, July 29

The Raiders turned up the intensity at Tuesday morning's practice, resulting in what head coach Lane Kiffin called the team's most physical workout so far. Find out what happened, who got hit the hardest and how Kiffin reacted in Michael Wagaman's latest update.

A morning after being treated to dinner by their position coaches, the Raiders went through a vigorous two-hour morning practice that was highlighted by several big hits.

Fullback Oren O'Neal was leveled by rookie linebacker Malik Jackson on one play during a team scrimmage and landed square on his back. O'Neal came back with a few big blocks of his own during goal-line and short-yardage drills, driving linebacker Jon Alston back seven yards at one point.

Linebacker Kirk Morrison came racing over and gave wide receiver Drew Carter a hard thud after Carter made a great catch on a sharp throw from quarterback JaMarcus Russell. Morrison, who was covering Carter along with cornerback DeAngelo Hall, drilled Carter and knocked the ball in the air but Carter -- who has been outstanding through the first week of camp -- regained control and hauled in the pass.

Alston later came back to put a big hit on running back Joe Echemandu while fullback Justin Griffith laid a perfect block on linebacker Ricky Brown.

But the day's best play came when safety Jarrod Cooper -- who was incensed at his teammates for what he perceived was a lackadaisical effort on consecutive plays -- leveled tight end John Madsen to jar the ball loose after Madsen seemed to make a great catch.

Madsen slowly got to his feet and spent the rest of practice out of action while Cooper got talked to by secondary coach Darren Perry and head coach Lane Kiffin.

"We need that, we need to be more physical on defense," said Kiffin, obviously pleased with what he saw. "I've got no problem with that and our young players need to see that. A guy like Cooper, as well as a guy like Gibril, they need to bring it like that so Michael Huff sees. I've got no problem with that.

"Ran about 85 team plays today so it was good to sting ‘em a little bit this morning. I thought they responded well and were very physical."

Other highlights from Tuesday's morning practice:

· Kiffin acknowledged that the Raiders are experimenting with defensive end Derrick Burgess, having him play both the left and right end spots while also having him line up standing up at other times a la a linebacker.

· Quarterback Andrew Walter had probably his best practice of camp so far. Though he continues to sail his deep throws well over the intended receivers, Walter made several crisp passes to the sidelines and showed nice touch on two throws to tight ends down the middle.

Kiffin said there is not clear-cut choice for the backup job to JaMarcus Russell and that Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo will determine who gets the job by how they play in the preseason.

"They'll both play a ton in preseason and see who can move us and who can make really good decisions," Kiffin said. "The backup quarterback will be decided by who takes care of the ball the best."

How much Walter and Tui play, however, is up for debate. Kiffin said the team has to let Russell take more reps than most team's starters because of his lack of experience and having missed all of the preseason a year ago.

· Marcel Reece got an earful from Walter after running the wrong route during a 7-on-7 drill but came back two plays later to make a nice catch on a pass from Tuiasosopo.

· Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan nearly lost it during a team drill when he noticed the Raiders had 12 players on defense. Ryan interrupted the play and screamed at the defensive linemen, "It's a 3-4, 3-4! How about three of you stay and one get out!"

Defensive end Grey Gunheim, an undrafted free agent, apparently got the message and jogged off the field.

· Before getting hammered by Cooper, Madsen had the catch of the day when he made a diving one-handed grab off a throw from Walter. Madsen also made a nice play earlier in the day when he slipped underneath the safeties' coverage and hauled in a pass from Walter.

· Madsen wasn't the only player making diving catches. Johnnie Lee Higgins extended his entire 5-foot-11-inch frame out to snatch a throw from Russell despite solid coverage from Stanford Routt and Tyvon Branch. Jonathon Holland also made a great diving catch but paid for it when he got the wind knocked out of him.

· Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha returned to practice after attending a funeral in the Bay Area on Monday. Asomugha made two very solid plays, recovering after getting beat to knock a 35-yard pass away from Javon Walker then later flying in to tip the ball away from Higgins on a sideline throw from Walter.

· Tough day for the offensive tackles. In addition to dealing with Burgess and Jay Richardson all morning, Cornell Green and Kwame Harris both got called for false starts on the same play. Yet neither player had to pay the penalty and run a lap, as has been the case all camp. Just ask Paul McQuistan, who had to take off running after he was called for a false start.

· Defensive back John Bowie appeared to injure his knee and walked off the field slowly midway through practice. No word on what exactly the injury is or the extent of it.


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