Nov. 16 News and Notes

The Raiders are continuing in their efforts to convince Michael Bush to convert to a fullback but even interim head coach Tom Cable admits it won't be easy. The second-year running back was resistant when the team approached him about it earlier this year and doesn't seem to have changed his mind.

Speaking to reporters a day after the Raiders dropped their fourth straight game, one in which Bush suited up but did not play for the second time this season, Cable was asked about the running back's status and what role he has with the team.

Without prompting, Cable said he'd like to see Bush be more receptive to playing fullback.

"He should really address and be open-armed to playing fullback," Cable said. "He can be a special, special fullback in this league. We've talked about it with him and I don't think it's something he's real comfortable with yet."

The Raiders first broached Bush about playing fullback after Oren O'Neal suffered a season-ending knee injury prior to the start of the regular season. Though he practiced there a few days, Bush wasn't happy about it and told reporters he preferred to remain at running back.

When starter Justin Griffith also suffered a year-ending knee injury three weeks ago against Baltimore, it left Oakland with only one healthy fullback on the roster: Luke Lawton. Thus the emphasis to try Bush at the position once again.

With Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden splitting the load in the Raiders backfield, moving to fullback might also be Bush's best option to get on the field.

"I think he wants to be on the field and that may give him the opportunity to do that," Cable said. "As it sits right now, with McFadden healthy and Fargas healthy, (Bush) is the third runner."

Cable said Bush is actually the best pass-blocking back the team has and doesn't believe he'll have much problems as a lead blocker.

What Bush thinks about this latest attempt to get him to move to fullback is uncertain. He walked into the Raiders locker room briefly but left without talking to reporters.

In other Monday news and notes:

· Left tackle Kwame Harris isn't losing his starting job after all. Despite speculation the Raiders were ready to make a change at left tackle, Cable emphatically insisted that's not the case.

"At this point I'll play Kwame. He's the left tackle of the Oakland Raiders," Cable said, adding the team would end its experiment of having Harris and Mario Henderson rotate at the spot."

Harris had yet another rough outing during Sunday's 17-15 loss to Miami. Already the most penalized member of Oakland's offensive line, the veteran tackle was hit for two false start penalties in a three-play span that took the Raiders out of a 2nd-and-goal from the 4 situation and helped turn it into a 3rd-and-goal from the 19.

Cable immediately benched Harris and replaced him with Mario Henderson, who played the entire second half. He later applauded the effort of Henderson, but a day later he had a different response when asked how Henderson graded out.

"Poorly," Cable said. "I made the comment I thought he was solid in the second half. Some things, once you get a chance to look at it on film weren't what you thought they were. Kwame will remain the starter. We've got to clean up the penalties with him but he was playing quite well other than those two false starts."

Earlier, Henderson spoke with reporters and felt pleased with the progress he had made.

"I've kind of grown up as a man, you know?" Henderson said. "Like I don't go out there and I don't take plays off. I go out there and actually try to get better. That's kind of made the big difference. Of course, coach Cable staying on me every day."

· The Raiders are hopeful this will be the week defensive end Derrick Burgess returns to the lineup. Burgess has been sidelined with a strained triceps that kept him out of the last six games but should be back to face Denver this week.

"We think so," Cable said. "We'll see day to day. He should practice on Wednesday and we should be able to get a lot done this week."

If Burgess does play, Cable said the Raiders would have Kalimba Edwards start at the other defensive end position, leaving Jay Richardson and rookie Trevor Scott as the backups.

· Jake Grove, out with a calf injury, is listed as day-to-day. That's better than last week when Grove was ruled out early.

John Wade started against Miami in place of Grove and by most accounts struggled, which was one of the reasons Oakland's running game stalled out.

· Cable acknowledged Sam Williams hasn't played as well as the team hoped while filling in at strongside linebacker.

"He's been a little inconsistent," Cable said. "He's been good at times, and some things he probably believes he should do better and we think he should do better. He's made some big plays for us; at the same time some errors where he'd be the first person to tell you that hurt us a couple of times."

Ricky Brown, who is also listed as day to day, will immediately go back into the starting lineup once he's healthy.

· Cable says the Raiders' problem scoring is a mental issue and a lack of confidence more than anything else.

"It's 99.9 both of them," he said. "It's all kind of right between our ears right now. Not pressing when we get down three. I thought yesterday was a good example. We're down there, run the ball, down to the 3, now we're setting there, false start, then run toss play, lose yardage on that, then false start, and we're third and goal on the 19. To me that really is a mental issue."


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