News and notes from Monday:
-- In addition to running back Darren McFadden, right tackle Cornell Green could also be out up to a month due to a calf strain. Green was injured during Sunday's loss to Houston. His replacement is likely to be Erik Pears this week, though head coach Tom Cable said the Raiders are gearing up Khalif Barnes for a possible move to the right side.
-- The battered offensive line got some good news when Cable announced Robert Gallery was out of his walking boot and could possibly play as soon as this week. That's a longshot and the more likely scenario is Gallery playing the following week against the Eagles.
Whenever he returns, Gallery will give a big boost to a line that has been struggling ever since he went out. The Raiders have used Pears and also moved center Chris Morris over, but neither has been as adept as Gallery. It also forced Morris out of his more natural position and brought Samson Satele into the mix.
-- Also on the positive front, tight end Zach Miller seemed to be doing fine a day after suffering a concussion.
"(He) seems to be clearing up and all that and should be fine," Gallery said. "We'll make sure he's ready to go before we do anything."
-- Quarterback JaMarcus Russell, who has been criticized heavily the past few weeks, actually had one of his better games and would have put up significantly better numbers had his receivers not dropped so many passes, according to Cable.
"He really did throw the ball well as compared to the three previous weeks," Cable said, echoing comments made earlier in the locker room by Oakland's wide receivers. "We just didn't catch it very well.
"If you understand football, if he's getting better protection yesterday you'd see what I'm talking about. He was on target all but really two throws. When you have that many drops - I think there were nine that I counted - if you put nine completions or at least the opportunity of nine completions on his deal, you'd say he might have been as good as anybody in pro football yesterday. If you know what you're looking at."
-- Wide receivers Javon Walker and Johnnie Lee Higgins have both insisted they are healthy enough to play more in the offense but Cable had other feelings.
"I think with Javon it's probably his desire. I think with Johnnie Lee, he is out there, but I think if you notice he's not able to cut it loose yet," Cable said. "And so that has to be addressed this week. We had a couple opportunities there with the punt return, where we misplayed the one ball, and the one before that we actually had a chance to get a return and he ran out of bounds. So we've got to get him back, I think mentally, through this thing."
Asked if that meant Walker wasn't ready to be on the field, Cable said, "I think it's just a matter of is he ready to go in and take someone else's job. I mean, the production up until yesterday by those young receivers has been there. It was a matter of getting them the football.
And then yesterday we were able to get 'em the football, and those of course we dropped a ton of footballs."
Cable had me going until the part about the young receivers' production the last few weeks. As a caller on a local radio show pointed out today, Darrius Heyward-Bey has more names than he does catches this year.
-- On the subject of Russell, Cable declined to talk about Boomer Esiason's comments that the Raiders have fined the young QB multiple times for missing meetings and not making weight.
"I don't know what Boomer said," Cable said. "I'm not going to talk about our internal stuff that way."
-- The coaching staff counted at least three individual breakdowns that resulted in Jacoby Jones' 95-yard return for touchdown on the free kick after Justin Fargas was tackled in the end zone for a safety.
"We had a guy come out of his lane, we had another one not take the wedge on, we had another one not overlap," Cable said. "That ball should have been tackled easily at the 32, somewhere right around there, because you're backed up so far. It was a great kick. Could have been more hang time obviously. We had every opportunity to stop that play."
-- Al Davis and Cable continue to meet regularly and are still on speaking terms, something his predecessor Lane Kiffin couldn't say.
"We talk all the time," Cable said. "It's been good. We're trying to make sure we put the right team out there in terms of who dresses on Sunday, making sure we're bringing people in to work out and all those things, keeping our list, everything updated. So it's been good."
-- The Raiders head coach said he was surprised to hear Jeff Garcia's comments that some players on Oakland's roster were simply there to collect a paycheck and that was a main reason he asked the team to release him at the end of training camp.
"I heard about that actually Saturday for the first time and I was really surprised by it because when Jeff came to me and said he didn't want to play football any more," Cable said. "I was shocked. I was surprised that he didn't want to play the game any more at that time. When I heard those things Saturday, I thought maybe, that's a guy who's not in it any more, talking about himself. I don't know. But my feeling was that when he asked for his release he didn't want to play football any more. He didn't like it any more."
-- Despite the offense's problems moving the ball, Cable will retain the play-calling duties.
"If it was putting us in the wrong place at the wrong time and all that, then I think I would need to really sit down and think about that," he said. "Right now it's trying to find us some rhythm and find where our comfort level is, if you will, in terms of executing fundamental run plays and pass plays."
One player who might disagree with that is Fargas.
While he didn't necessarily call out the team's play-calling in the loss to Houston, he stopped just short of it.
"I don't want to be like (Terrell Owens) and say we can only go with the plays that are called, but… it's tough," Fargas said when asked about the play that resulted in him being tackled in the end zone for a safety. "I think in that situation you want to try and get downhill. We were running an outside play (and) we were using a hard cadence. Things were working against us. In that situation you want to do anything you can to get the ball out of the end zone, in a backed-up situation and we didn't do it. We didn't execute the play. May have not been the best play at this time. And it just… just all bad."
The idea was to draw the Texans offside, a tactic Fargas agreed with, to a point.
"You have the risk-reward factor, you understand that. But you're on the road and you can't really hear the snap count anyway," he said. "I felt like they got off the ball before we did and knocked us back a little bit."
Fargas also said the team might have suffered by focusing so much on the passing game in the preseason, though he believes the running game can turn around.
"I definitely think so but it's got to be a concerted effort," Fargas said. "We really have to not just talk about it or say, ‘Hey, we're gonna get back and do what we do.' We have to really do it and stick to it."
News and notes
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