Walker back on track

Wide receiver Javon Walker practiced Monday for the first time since tearing up his ankle last November. That doesn't mean Walker is at full strength but it's a definite step in the right direction and some much-needed good news for the Raiders.

After weeks of rehabbing and working out with the assistance of a trainer, veteran wide receiver Javon Walker finally returned to the practice field for the first time in more than nine months on Monday and took part in every drill, an encouraging sign for the Raiders especially coming on the heels of losing Chaz Schilens to a broken foot.

Walker ran routes, caught passes from JaMarcus Russell and looked strong overall while running through a practice that was light in comparison to the rehab workouts he put himself through.

"Just glad to be out there practicing," Walker said. "The rehab part is the hard part. That's the part that gets your ready for going out there and competing with those guys. That made the transition real easy. The easy part is being out there practicing and catching balls now."

Head coach Tom Cable has yet to determine whether Walker will play in Saturday's preseason game against New Orleans in Oakland but the 30-year-old receiver anticipates being on the field.

That's good news for the Raiders, who learned last week that second-year wide receiver Chaz Schilens will be out at least a month and likely longer after breaking his foot in practice.

Walker is the only receiver on Oakland's roster with more than four years experience. His presence on the field would lend a veteran voice in the huddle and would, in theory, offer a comfort zone for Russell.

But Walker isn't yet at full strength. Being healthy is one thing, as he points out, and being in football shape is another. It's also uncertain where he fits in the pecking order of the Raiders wide receivers.

"That doesn't matter at all to me, about being number one," Walker said. "What I expect is to be number one in my ability that I know I can be. I expect to be number one in the plays that I know I can make. When I come out here I just hope that has a domino effect on all the younger receivers that we have here."

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