Training camp roundup, Aug. 3

The Raiders held their first day of full-contact practice Monday. For Darrius Heyward-Bey, it was another in a string of frustrating workouts. Find out what happened to the team's first-round pick, as well as everything else that went on in camp with SBI's training camp roundup.

After four days of quarter-speed drills, head coach Tom Cable took the reigns off the Raiders and had the team in full pads. Though there was an expected surge in excitement and intensity, the hitting was kept to a minimum and there were no fights, as some players had predicted.

What there was, though, was the site of Darrius Heyward-Bey dropping four more passes. This on the heels of Sunday's workout where the rookie wide receiver dropped three passes in rapid succession, all coming in front of owner Al Davis.

While everyone concerned – head coach Tom Cable, quarterback JaMarcus Russell, Heyward-Bey – all agree it's too early to make a big deal out of the drops, it is a troubling pattern the young receiver has had ever since being drafted with the seventh overall pick.

"It's football. You're going to catch some, you're going to drop some," Heyward-Bey said after emerging from the Raiders locker room where he was getting treatment on his hamstring. "I'm still going to come 100 miles per hour. I'm still going to run past you, I don't care who you are."

Heyward-Bey did that at one point during practice, catching a 20-yard pass on a post pattern then splitting a trio of defenders on his way to the end zone.

But plays like that were few and far between for a player who recently signed a five-year contract that guarantees him at least $23.5 million.

"He understands his job is to catch footballs and for him, it is just a process of gaining confidence and getting comfortable every day at this level," Cable said. "He is doing that by leaps and bounds. I am really not worried about it. He is just pressing. He just wants to impress you. That is what it is."

Several teammates came to Heyward-Bey's defense, though Russell said it is natural for a rookie to try to press and do too much in his first training camp.

"At times there are because everybody is asking the question, ‘What is he going to do?,'^" Russell said. Hey, you gotta go out there and relax yourself and be poised just go out there and make plays. He's there to make ‘em. Now he's just gotta go out there and do it."

Other news and notes from Monday's single practice:

-- QB Jeff Garcia sat out with a strained calf, but Cable didn't say how long he expects the backup quarterback to be out.

-- Linebackers and running backs competed in a passing drill, with the running backs clearly coming out on top. Justin Fargas twice beat Kirk Morrison while Darren McFadden also got the best of Thomas Howard twice. The best linebacker in the drill? Ricky Brown, who twice did a good job staying stride for stride with Michael Bush and knocking the ball away.

-- Chaz Schilens had a very solid day of practice. The second-year wide receiver caught nearly every pass thrown his way, including two deep throws from Russell.

-- Backup cornerback Justin Miller is playing well so far, which is encouraging considering the lack of depth the Raiders have in their secondary. Miller broke up a pass intended for Heyward-Bey and also knocked one away from rookie receiver Louis Murphy.

-- Another wide receiver turning heads is Nick Miller. The diminutive wideout, a rookie from Southern Utah, is second on the depth chart behind punt returner Johnnie Lee Higgins and kick returner Justin Miller but he has also been putting up a strong showing on offense. He hauled in a deep throw from Russell, catching the ball over his right shoulder.

"Oh man, hey, we have some guys that aren't so tall I would say," Russell joked when asked about Miller. "That's why you call him a professional. You put the ball in places where they can make plays or you lead them in the right direction. Hopefully it will work out. It has so far."

-- Fullback Luke Lawton got an obscenity-laced tirade from Cable after failing to block correctly during a team scrimmage.

-- Russell didn't have the best of days. Although he connected with Miller and Schilens, he also missed badly on a few throws and sailed others where no receivers were.

-- Left tackle Mario Henderson buried defensive end Trevor Scott to the turf on back-to-back plays during a blocking drill.

-- Wide receiver Javon Walker continues to work out on his own while waiting clearance to practice. Walker ran over a series of bags laid on the field while catching passes from a Raider assistant.

-- Special teams worked on kickoff coverage for a brief period.

-- During the team scrimmage, Justin Fargas took a short dump-off pass from Russell on the first play. Russell then missed tight end Tony Stewart badly. On a delayed screen in the same drill, Russell lofted a short pass for McFadden that the second-year running back dropped. Russell was also picked off twice, once when a ball bounced off McFadden's hands and was intercepted by Thomas Howard. The other interception was by safety Hiram Eugene.

-- After practice, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha lingered around to work with receivers Louis Murphy, Jonathan Holland and Will Franklin.

-- Former Raiders Steve Wisniewski, Phil Villapiano and Morris Bradshaw attended the practice.

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