Raiders resume OTAs

The Raiders are back for another round of OTA's but two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Derrick Burgess, the subject of ongoing trade rumors, is not among them. Find out who else was absent, who showed up, who made plays and who didn't in S&BI Senior Writer Michael Wagaman's latest Raiders Roundup.

After taking a week off, the Raiders returned to their Alameda facilities and resumed their OTAs – the league's fancy way of describing offseason practices – and there were several notable players missing from the voluntary workouts.

Derrick Burgess, Jeff Garcia, Nnamdi Asomugha, Shane Lechler, Sebastian Janikowski, Tommy Kelly, Jay Richardson and Darren McFadden were all no-shows Wednesday.

According to head coach Tom Cable, Asomugha and McFadden had prior commitments to attend to while Garcia and Kelly were dealing with personal issues. Lechler and Jano's absence isn't cause for alarm, either, as kickers get limited work during OTAs anyway, and Richardson is resting a sore knee.

Burgess also has a history of skipping OTAs and voluntary minicamps, so on the surface nothing seems out of the ordinary. But the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end's name continues to be linked to the New England Patriots and a possible trade.

There has been speculation that the Raiders have been seeking backup QB Kevin O'Connell as part of the deal but nothing has been confirmed by either team.

At the team's OTA in May, Cable indicated he expects Burgess to be with the team when training camp opens in late July. Cable wasn't asked about Burgess on Wednesday – I'll fall on the sword for that, as I was chasing down Louis Murphy while Cable was talking – but he did say he was otherwise pleased with the turnouts Oakland has had for the OTAs.

"You'd like to have everybody here (but) some of these guys have commitments that they've committed to," Cable said. "It's not mandatory so you really have to let them get some of that stuff out of the way before the season starts."

Asked whether Asomugha, who this past offseason signed the richest deal in NFL history for a defensive back, would attend any of the other OTAs, Cable shrugged.

"Mmmm I don't know that," he said. "I'm hoping he'll be here the last two. If not the last two, the last one."

First-round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring), defensive tackles Gerard Warren (pectoral strain) and Ryan Boschetti (pectoral strain), wide receivers Javon Walker (knee) and Arman Shields (knee), tackle Mark Wilson (back spasms) attended Wednesday's practice but did not work out.

Center Samson Satele practiced lightly for the first time since undergoing shoulder surgery while tight end Zach Miller and left guard Robert Gallery also worked out in a limited capacity.

Other highlights and lowlights from Wednesday:

X Left tackle Mario Henderson and right tackle Cornell Green got extended work in, practicing with both the first- and second-team offenses. Looks as if Henderson will be the guy going into training camp, as Khalif Barnes continues to try to get up to speed with the rest of the offense. Green's situation is a little more uncertain. Based on the season he had last year, he needs to get as much work as possible if he wants to keep his starting job.

X Quarterback JaMarcus Russell rebounded from a rough practice two weeks ago and looked fairly solid for most of Wednesday's practice. He made a nice completion to Sammie Parker on a crossing pattern, connected with rookie tight end Brandon Myers amidst a trio of defenders near the goal line, fired a quick strike to Chaz Schilens just shy of the end zone and made several solid throws to veteran tight end Tony Stewart and wide receiver Chaz Schilens.

It wasn't perfect, however. Russell sailed a few balls well over the heads of the intended receivers and threw one pass near a receiver's feet. But he also showed some heads-up play when he scrambled out of trouble and took off running down field for good gains on two different plays.

And if there were any doubts as to who would be Oakland's starting QB when the regular season begins, Cable made it clear who the Raiders choice is.

"Our decision's made, JaMarcus is our quarterback," Cable said. "There's no issue there, there's no decisions needed to be made there. What we have to do is get to camp and have that competition you're talking about. This is a learning time. The competition will really get rolling when we get to Napa."

X First-round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey watched practice while still recovering from a sore hamstring that kept him out of the final two workouts during the team's May mini-camp.

"You want to be out there with the rest of your teammates practicing, but I'm getting my mental reps, and a lot of the older guys are helping me out, so I'm right on time," Heyward-Bey said. "The strength is there in the hamstring. I'm just trying to make sure I'm 100 percent. I just want to make sure it's all taken care of before I get back out on the field."

"I feel close. I feel like I'm there but the Raiders are going to do their job to make sure I'm 100 percent."

Heyward-Bey also said negotiations between his representatives and the Raiders have yet to begin.

"Not by my knowledge," Heyward-Bey.

X Bruce Gradkowski, the likely third-string QB, also had a much better practice than he has been. Gradkowski connected with rookie wide receiver Shawn Bayes for a short TD, threw another TD to Meyers in the left back corner of the end zone, lofted a nice throw down the left sidelines to fullback Marcel Reece – who really needs to be a tight end and could solve the team's blocking end issues – then later found a wide open Samie Parker streaking down the middle of the field for a long touchdown.

After the touchdown to Parker, rookie wide receiver Louis Murphy ran onto the field and loudly congratulated Gradkowski on the play. The two have spent considerable time working out together and later connected for a deep touchdown when Gradkowski ran a perfect play-fake and hit Murphy well downfield after the rookie torched cornerback Jason Horton.

X Speaking of Murphy, the rookie wideout said that wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal changed the meeting room around to have the players sit around a circular table rather than in chairs facing the front of the room.

"Our whole goal and purpose for this offseason was to come out and get unity, become more as a group," said Murphy, who stayed after practice to catch passes from the Juggs machine after dropping a long throw from Gradkowski. "No individualism because that's going to stop the team from going forward. If we all just get on the same page and become a strong group I think we all could complement each other."

X Linebacker Ricky Brown gave rookie Slade Norris an earful after the fourth-round pick failed to recognize a blitz call, allowing Russell to get off a deep pass.

X There's been talk the Raiders should phase running back Justin Fargas out of the offense in favor of Darren McFadden and Michael Bush but Fargas remains the heart and soul of the offense for his work ethic and attitude. He also is pretty solid on the field and made a nice one-handed grab of a high pass from Gradkowski.

X Linebacker Frantz Joseph intercepted a Gradkowski pass after the ball slipped right through the hands of running back Louis Rankin. Safety Hiram Eugene also nearly made an interception but came up just short.

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