Raiders ramp it up

The Raiders went through their longest practice of training camp on Wednesday, a plan head coach Tom Cable had in place when he laid out the team's schedule. Find out what happened in S&BI's Training Camp update.

As the Raiders prepare to call an end to their month-long stay in Napa, head coach Tom Cable put the team through it's longest practice of training camp, a nearly three-hour marathon affair that left at least one player – rookie tight end Brandon Myers – cramping up and in need of an IV.

"I just wanted to push them a little bit there at the end," Cable said. "It was good, excellent all the way through it, except just the last five minutes. Really good practice."

Continuing their regular-season mode of preparing for Saturday's preseason game against New Orleans, the Raiders worked on short-yardage situations, goal-line drills and their third-down offense and defense while a fairly big throng of fans crowded the sidelines.

Oakland will break camp with a final practice Thursday before returning to Alameda for a walkthrough on Friday. In doing so, they will end their four-week stay in the heart of wine country and begin the process of getting things in order for the first round of roster cuts on Sept. 1. The final 53-man roster will be announced on Sept. 5.

Cable, who has had his own personal share of drama during his first NFL training camp as a head coach, believes the Raiders accomplished the most critical thing they needed to when they first gathered in Napa.

"The most important thing that we set out to do was to try to become a closer team," Cable said. "Before all the good athletes we have, the big arms and the speed and all those things can really make a difference, you have to really be in it for each other, about each other, and I'm very pleased that we're making some tremendous progress that way.

"We seem to take care of each other. Even if we fight out here, it stays out here. It doesn't go in the locker room anymore. Those things don't seem to fester. So, I'm very pleased about that, but I'm, obviously, looking for us to become a really good team."
Other news and notes from Wednesday:

-- Wide receiver Chaz Schilens, tackle Khalif Barnes, center John Wade, running back Justin Fargas, rookie defensive end Matt Shaughness, linebackers Ike Ekejiuba and Kirk Morrison, safeties Hiram Eugene and Mike Mitchell, along with punter Shane Lechler were all held out of Thursday's practice. Cable said Shaughnessy, Ekejiuba, Eugene and Lechler may all still play against New Orleans.

Eugene had been out with the stomach flu but has since been diagnosed with a pectoral injury.

-- Linebacker Jon Alston got drilled to the ground by offensive lineman Mark Wilson during a team scrimmage.

-- Wide receiver Johnnie Lee Higgins spent some time returning kickoffs but the plan is still for Justin Miller to be back there in the regular season while Higgins will handle punts. Rookie Nick Miller will back up both returners.

-- Safety Michael Huff was the only member of the defense that didn't bite on cut-back run by Louis Rankin during the team scrimmage. Rankin took the handoff from Charlie Frye then started left with the rest of the offense before suddenly stopping and changing direction. Rankin would have had an open field to run down but Huff came flying up to make the play.

-- Cable said he's pleased with the progress being made by JaMarcus Russell and the rest of the passing game but there needs to be more consistency.

"We're getting there, we're getting closer," Cable said. "That's the best way to look at it. As I've said before, I want to see us come out in the morning and do the same thing and build some consistency. When we've had a good practice or two, we've kind of tailed a little bit, so I'd like to just see us keep it at a high level. But it's getting there."

Cable, however, won't announce the quarterback rotation for Saturday's game until Thursday at the earliest.

-- Oakland continues to try different combinations in the backfield. Fullback Luke Lawton and running back Michael Bush lined up together at one point while fullback Oren O'Neal and running back Darren McFadden worked together. Later, both fullbacks swapped places.

Cable noted it's part of the evaluating process for all the backs.

"That's part of finding your runner is, who they run well behind," Cable said. "Do they read that guy? It's just like reading a tackle or a guard or something like that."

-- First-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey had another solid day of practice, catching a touchdown against Justin Miller on a pass from Charlie Frye during a drill pitting wide receivers against defensive backs. Heyward-Bey also caught one pass square in the gut, the ball landing with a loud thump. During the same drill, Todd Watkins put a double move on Chris Johnson that left the veteran cornerback flailing at air as Watkins hauled in a TD. Rookie Louis Murphy also made a nice touchdown grab against newly signed cornerback Michael Hawkins.

-- Hawkins and defensive lineman Joe Cohen were both signed. To make room, the Raiders released wide receiver Samie Parker and placed cornerback Jason Horton on injured reserve.

"We wanted to get a little bit more speed at the corner," Cable said. "And we were just adding depth in at D-line."

-- Stanford Routt will continue to get a long look with the starting defense. He and Chris Johnson are battling for the left cornerback spot.

-- Tight end Zach Miller had a rare drop on a pass across the middle from JaMarcus Russell.

-- Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha tipped a pass that was intercepted by linebacker Ricky Brown, who immediately got razzed by his teammates. Brown, remember, got the interception against the 49ers but was tackled short of the end zone by San Francisco quarterback Alex Smith.


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