Garcia to play but still not up to speed

Jeff Garcia will play in his first preseason game as a member of the Raiders on Saturday, but the veteran QB still isn't fully recovered from the calf injury that sidelined him early in training camp. See what Garcia has to say and find out what else happened Thursday with S&BI's Training Camp update.

Jeff Garcia missed two weeks of training camp practice with a calf strain, then rejoined workouts this week. Projected to be the backup to JaMarcus Russell, Garcia looked fine Thursday, making a pinpoint completion to fullback Marcel Reece on a crossing pattern. Garcia's pass was just in front of Reece's hands and barely out of the reach of linebacker Morlon Greenwood, showing the veteran QB's accuracy is still on point.

What isn't fine, though, is the 39-year-old's speed and mobility, a fact he acknowledged when talking to S&BI following Thursday's practice.

"It's just one of those things where I'm still feeling my way and trying to get to the point where I can feel more comfortable and just let it all go," Garcia said. "I know the system well enough to where I'm just reacting on the field but I know I'm not up to the speed I like to be at. Once I get to that point, things will be that much more comfortable for me, that much more natural. As far as the decision-making is concerned, I pretty much know where I'm going with the football and what I'm doing with it. It's just about getting to the speed that I need to get at."

Head coach Tom Cable said he expects to play the Raiders' starters for a full half in Saturday's preseason game against San Francisco, with one exception. Russell, who played only two series against Dallas, will work into the second quarter before being replaced by Garcia.

"You can tell he has all that experience and background in this kind of system," Cable said. "There are times though you can tell he just needs some more timing and rhythm."

Garcia agrees.

After putting himself through Thursday's practice, he spent 15 minutes signing autographs before making his way to the team's adjacent hotel, pausing to talk about his health and Saturday's game against the 49ers, with whom Garcia broke into the NFL in 1999.

"I think there's always going to be some significance there, just based on the fact that I grew up in the area," Garcia said. "For me, returning back to San Francisco, there's definitely a spot there for me because they gave me my start here in the NFL and I had some good years there. It always feels pretty good to return there. The main thing is getting healthy. I do want to get some opportunity in the preseason. I know I may not get a whole lot of time in this preseason game but I expect probably more playing time in the next game against New Orleans. It's about how physically I feel. I would hope to get a couple series Saturday night and do some things to where I can get some positive things happening on the field."

How much he'll be able to do, though, is questionable.

"My game is making quick decisions and being able to do something with the football when things start to break down around me," Garcia added. "If I can't be that guy then I'm not who I need to be. So I'm working on getting back to being that person."

Other news and notes from Thursday:

-- 21 players sat out practice, 12 of them projected starters. The majority of them, though, were veterans who were given the day off by Cable.

-- Rookie tight end Brandon Myers had a rough start to training camp but has really turned things around. A sixth-round draft pick, Myers has been catching almost everything lately and has gained the attention of the coaching staff.

"For us, we needed to get a third tight end who could take some of the stuff off of Zach (Miller) and I think Brandon has allowed us to do that," Cable said. "Pretty decent pass protector, good run blocker. Where he's showing up is catching the football more and more."

-- A day after having a tough go-round against the 49ers in practice, quarterback JaMarcus Russell looked decidedly more relaxed and comfortable. During 7-on-7 drills, he made a pair of nice throws to Louis Murphy and Nick Miller, connecting with both receivers in stride for big gains.

-- With Greg Ellis one of the veterans getting the day off, Jay Richardson handled the reps at left defensive end while Trevor Scott took the work on the right side. When Ellis is on the field, Richardson will likely be a swing-man going back and forth from one side to the other when either Ellis or Scott needs a breather.

-- Seth Wand took reps at left tackle with the starting offense after Mario Henderson complained of tightness in his lower back.

-- First-round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey continues to look for some consistency. The rookie wide receiver made two receptions but then let a pass from Russell slip right between his hands. In his defense, he had to leap high to make an attempt. Still, those are catches he has to make.

-- Safety Rashad Baker, who signed on Wednesday, is wearing No. 32.


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