As the Raiders returned to the practice field for the first time since opening the preseason with a 31-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, they did so with a growing injury list that includes Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha.
Although Asomugha's bruised heel __ which has been bothering him for the better part of two weeks – isn't considered a serious injury, it was enough of a concern that the Raiders decided to sign Ricky Manning Jr.
Manning was one of the top young cornerbacks in the NFL just a short time ago and signed a lucrative contract with the Chicago Bears. Since then his career fell on hard times, as he was charged with felony battery stemming from an altercation at a Denny's restaurant, was dumped by the Bears after two seasons then played sparingly last year with the St. Louis Rams.
While he's not coming in to a starting job in Oakland, the Raiders needed Manning for depth at a position where they are extremely thin once you get past Asomugha.
Manning worked out for the team's brass on Friday, signed with the team Saturday night then was on the practice field Sunday when the Raiders held a single two-hour practice.
"It's just to make sure we have enough legs at that position," head coach Tom Cable said. "He's a proven guy. He's here obviously to give us more juice and to compete as well."
For Manning, though, it's a chance to get revive his once-promising career that has stalled out lately. He had talked with Houston and Green Bay before signing with Oakland, where he could get a look at being the team's nickel back.
"From my own observation, I could see that things were starting to turn around here," Manning said. "I thought last year would be a better year for this team. Looking at the lineup, guys coming in, all those big free agents came in. Didn't happen, and that happens sometimes, but you look at a lot of the close games last year, this team is right there.
"I think bringing in a veteran guy like myself, whether I'm out there, whether I'm pushing guys, is going to help, because I've been a part of defenses that have been in the top five. I've been to the Super Bowl, so I've seen what it takes. If I can bring that character, that image, that would be great."
In other news from Sunday:
-- Tight end John Paul Foschi was released in order to make room for Manning.
-- Wide receivers Javon Walker (knee) and Louis Murphy (sore hip), tackles Khalif Barnes (ankle) and Marcus Johnson (calf), center John Wade (stinger), linebacker Ike Ekejiuba (shoulder), safety Mike Mitchell (hamstring) and defensive linemen Terdell Sands (quad) and Derrick Gray (knee) were all held out of practice.
-- Quarterback Jeff Garcia left camp to attend personal business, according to Cable, who quickly shot down speculation that the veteran quarterback might be unhappy over his role in Oakland and took the day off to re-evaluate things.
"No, no, nothing (like that) at all," Cable said. "(He could return) as soon as tomorrow."
The Raiders are hoping Garcia will be able to practice by Tuesday when the team has the first of two joint practices with his former team, the San Francisco 49ers.
"We made a lot of progress with the calf, and then have some issues to take care of," Cable said. "I think once he gets back, we can go to work. So, looking forward to him getting back and getting to work, but I'm very concerned about that."
-- Both days of practice with the 49ers will be two-a-day workouts. The teams practiced together for one day last year.
"I think both teams felt it was very beneficial so, this year when we talked about it, Mike (Singletary) and I really kinda' threw it out there at the same time, 'Hey, last year was really good for both teams, let's do it twice,'^" Cable said. "We were willing, they were willing, so what I hope to get out of it is just a change in environment if you will. A different color jersey and helmet and all that kind of stuff."
-- Wide receiver Javon Walker will almost certainly miss Saturday's preseason game at San Francisco while continuing to rehab from offseason knee surgery.
-- Linebacker Jon Alston, who did not play against Dallas, returned to practice and worked at the strongside spot with Oakland's starting defense.
-- Asomugha's heel could keep him out of the 49er workouts. He practiced lightly Sunday and will be re-evalauated on Monday.
Speaking of Asomugha, he watched film of the win over the Cowboys and was pleased for the most part with how well the defense played, with one exception.
"The way we can improve is gang-tackling, I think," Asomugha said. "There was a lot of one-on-one tackles, and that can be a tough situation for guys. And just hustling a little more. But we showed some promise. Offense looked good, too, so it's good."
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