What a week it's been

It's been a crazy week in Napa. S&BI's Michael Wagaman takes offers his take on things and dishes up his views on a few other subjects concerning the Raiders.

Random thoughts on a slow day on the practice field:

-- If I'm the Raiders, I'm not worried one bit about any legal issues facing head coach Tom Cable regarding Sluggo-gate if they arise. With slick lawyering, any case over the matter probably will get pushed back to next offseason when it might not matter since there's no guarantee Cable will be the coach beyond 2009.

No, the one guy who worries me is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Since taking over for Paul Tagliabue, Goodell has had a heavy hand when it's come to handing down suspensions on players who violated the league's conduct policy. Since head coaches have to adhere to the same standard, I'd have to think Cable is looking at missing at least one, if not more, games at some point.

-- If I'm Tom Cable, I'm worried as heck about the Napa Police department re-opening their investigation. If the stories that are running around about what happened are true, then Cable could be facing felony assault charges which carry jail time.

-- I like Cable's idea of giving each of the team's three running backs – Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden and Michael Bush – a chance to start in the preseason. It's really the only way to make a fair assessment of the trio. I still like McFadden to be the main guy but because he's so versatile I suspect the plan will be to use him and one of the other two as the primary combination.

-- Not sure what anyone else thinks but the run defense is scary. Not good scary but 2008 scary. The fact that the Raiders did absolutely nothing to upgrade this unit is not only amazing but very disappointing, especially considering how the D looked against Dallas in the preseason opener.

-- Nick Miller, new fan favorite.

-- Don't underestimate the loss of Chaz Schilens from Oakland's offense. The second-year pro very likely was going to be the team's No. 1 receiver entering the season and had formed a pretty solid rhythm with QB JaMarcus Russell during the first three weeks of training camp. He could be back as soon as Week 3 but it could take until midseason or later until he's back to full speed.

-- Don't make too much over the 49ers' crowing about their practice dominance over the Raiders the other day. It was during one segment of the workout and was only noteworthy because of all the noise San Francisco's players were making. No one talked about how well Oakland's defense did against the 49ers own offense or how the Raiders made QBs Alex Smith and Shaun Hill look rough. It's August, people. And, as Allen Iverson said, it's practice. Not a game. Not a game. We're talking about practice.

-- It looks as if Samson Satele will be the starting center. Satele was already getting the majority of looks with the first offense in practice, and with John Wade sidelined with an injury, the former Miami Dolphin has been able to lengthen his lead in the race for the job.

-- The Raiders still aren't sure what to do at middle linebacker and probably won't name a starter there until right before the season opener. Right about the time Cable could be getting ready to serve an NFL suspension.

-- If Cable is suspended, who would take over as interim head coach? My call is Willie Brown. Brown has always been a man the players look up to and respect and he's often been the voice of reason with some of them. He's also close with Al Davis and would do exactly what the boss wanted if Cable were forced to miss any time.

-- Look for Oakland to look to a lot of two tight end formations if they're young receivers struggle out of the gate. Sixth-round draft pick Brandon Myers has come on strong over the last 10 days after struggling through the early part of camp. At the rate he's going, Myers will make a nice complement to Zach Miller.

-- One of the biggest disappointments so far has been the hamstring injury suffered by second-round draft pick Mike Mitchell. Mitchell was looking good in camp and you could see he was anxious to do some hitting but now he's out indefinitely with a sore hammy. Those types of injuries tend to linger, especially for DBs, so the Raiders are taking a very slow, cautious approach with the young rookie.

-- The Raiders have been in camp for more than three weeks yet the biggest news is something that happened 16 days ago. Not good at all.

-- Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy could easily be Oakland's starting wide receivers for the season-opener against San Diego. If that's not pressure enough for the two rookies, the fact that the game is on national television and will be played in front of about 63,000 screaming members of the Raider Nation might be.


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