Training camp roundup, Aug. 11

Safety Mike Mitchell's hamstring could keep him out of Thursday's preseason opener against Dallas. Find out what happened to the Raiders' safety and see what else went down at camp with S&BI's Training Camp update.

The Raiders were going through a light morning workout Tuesday when rookie safety Mike Mitchell dropped out of the drills for an unknown reason. Mitchell, the team's second-round draft pick, walked behind the rest of the team and laid on the ground, where a trainer began massaging and stretching his hamstring.

Raiders coach Tom Cable later said Mitchell had tightness in his hamstring, but the team sent him to a local hospital to have an MRI test performed.

Results of the test weren't known and Mitchell attended the afternoon practice, though only as a spectator.

Mitchell walked off the field without a noticeable limp and later worked out in the team's outdoor weight facility. Cable told S&BI he hadn't heard the results of the MRI test but was encouraged that Mitchell was able to hit the weights.

Whether that means Mitchell will be able to play in the preseason opener against the Cowboys remains to be seen. Oakland has only one practice left before the game and that will only be a walkthrough, so there won't be much of an opportunity for Mitchell to see if his leg is healed enough to go all out in a game.

If Mitchell is held out _ the call here is that he will be _ look for starter Hiram Eugene to play longer than the rest of the starters. Oakland doesn't have a lot of depth at the position and Eugene took reps with both the first and second defensive units in practice Tuesday.

Other news and notes from camp:

-- Quarterback JaMarcus Russell had a rough workout in the morning and it only got marginally better in the afternoon. Russell threw behind and over receivers in position drills and continued to struggle in the team scrimmage before finding a better rhythm in the afternoon.

"At times he ripped it," head coach Tom Cable said. "And then he had that streak where he really targeted well and all that, and then he got on a roll where everything was overthrow and overthrow."

The issue, Cable said, is Russell's timing with his receivers. Russell, who possesses one of the strongest throwing arms in the NFL, has a tendency to hold the ball longer out of the belief his power can make up the lost time.

"Any quarterback who's got a lot of arm, I think that's a constant battle," Cable said. "Whether it's a young guy or old guy, you still see that because they always think they make that one play that nobody else can.

"Everything's timing. The question that was asked about the receivers being in the right spots on time and all that, that's really well done in that group's part. Now you have to get your quarterback to match it. I think we're pretty close. We just want to see it all the time."

-- Speaking of receivers, first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey's recent mini-streak of impressive practices ended. Heyward-Bey dropped three passes in the morning workout, two when he was wide open in skeleton position drills.

He later caught two passes, one on a crossing route and the other on a medium-range out pattern.

-- Cornerback Stanford Routt also had a day. The veteran backup, projected to be the team's nickel defender, was beat repeatedly throughout the morning practice by a variety of different receivers. At one point, rookie Louis Murphy raced past Routt to haul in a long pass then chuckled as he continued downfield.

Routt did make an interception during the team scrimmage, stepping in front of wide receiver Chaz Schilens to pick off Charlie Frye's short pass.

-- One wide receiver who is quietly putting together a very solid camp is Jonathan Holland. Holland, the team's seventh-round draft pick in 2007, has caught almost everything thrown his way and _ along with Schilens _ has been the most consistent of all Oakland's receivers so far in camp.

He still has a long haul to break onto the team's 53-man roster. Javon Walker continues to work out like a beast on the sidelines in anticipation of being cleared to practice and will likely be the No. 1 receiver in the regular season. Heyward-Bey and Murphy are almost certainly to be on the roster, as is Schilens and Johnnie Lee Higgins. That could mean only one spot left for Holland, Nick Miller, Samie Parker (all three of whom have had good camps) and Oakland's other receivers to battle for.

-- While we're talking Walker, I have to give the guy credit. A year ago he looked about as disinterested in football as any player I'd seen. Now? It's a 180-degree turnaround, mentally and physically. The guy is running his routes extremely hard and goes through each of his drills with the same attitude. While some players are casually walking back to the huddle after running a play, Walker only walks when he's going to his solo workout or when leaving the practice facility.

As he walked away Tuesday, I joked with him that he was making the Raiders' younger players look bad with the way he was attacking his comeback. Walker, who didn't have much to smile about at all in 2008, flashed a knowing grin and laughed.

-- Cornerback Jason Horton did not practice and wore a protective boot on his left foot. Cable termed it ‘a sore toe' which could mean a slight case of turf toe.

-- Running back Darren McFadden beat linebacker Thomas Howard on a sideline route and made a nice catch but it wasn't Howard's fault. He was expecting help from safety Hiram Eugene, who was late getting over.

-- Tight end Tony Stewart also beat Howard on a route but dropped the pass, allowing safety Tyvon Branch to swoop in and make the interception.

-- Ricky Brown might not have unseated Kirk Morrison as the starting middle linebacker yet but it's looking increasingly like that may happen. Brown is working almost exclusively with the starting defense while Morrison has remained with the backups. Brown made a real nice play during the morning non-padded practice, racing into the backfield to get to running back Louis Rankin for what would have been a loss.

-- The morning practice ended when linebacker Thomas Howard came in from the left side of the defense untouched to get to JaMarcus Russell for what would have been an easy sack.

-- The afternoon workout focused mainly on individual drills and some special teams work. Center Samson Satele, who worked out in the morning, was given the afternoon off.

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