Friday: Mini Camp News & Notes

Despite the media circus surrounding him, JaMarcus Russell throws and looks confident in the process. Meanwhile, new Raider quarterback Jason Campbell struggles a bit in his debut. The rookies play like rookies, while last year's first rounder Darrius Heyward-Bey looks like he has been fine-tuning his hands and route running.

-Jason Campbell looked a bit rusty on his throws, but showcased some surprising mobility.

-Of course, the big news surrounds embattled quarterback JaMarcus Russell. There's no noticeable difference in Russell's physique now and last year. Unless he's hiding some weight somewhere, the earlier rumors of his weight being somewhere between 270 to 290 pounds seem unfounded. Russell was actually pretty sharp for a guy who is supposedly on his way out. You can't take too much from one day of mini camp, but it might be interesting if the Campbell-trade is what might finally motivate Russell. He's obviously been the recipient of a lot of criticism in his career, but not as much as in recent days.

-First round pick Rolando McClain practiced with the first team defense.

-Second round pick Lamarr Houston looked a bit lost in his first mini camp. He is played at defensive end.

-Third round pick Jared Veldheer practiced with the second team at left tackle.

-Fourth round pick Bruce Campbell played with the second team at right guard.

-Fifth round pick Walter McFadden was beat on a number of occaisions.

-Second-year wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey looked a lot more confident on the field. He showcased improved route running and his hands look improved. Of course, Heyward-Bey's issues as a wide receiver have always been the nuances of the position, not the physical skill.

-Bruce Gradkowski did not participate as his arm was in a sling, following pectoral surgery. Also out due to injury were Chaz Schilens (ankle soreness) and Nick Miller (shin splints). Neither are considered serious, but somewhat disconcerting considering both suffered from injuries last season. Again though, it's only the first day of mini camp.

-Also not at practice was Richard Seymour. Head Coach Tom Cable stated that the team was working on a long-term deal with Seymour and his agent. The Raiders placed their franchise tag on Seymour, but he has yet to sign the one-year, $12,398,000 deal.

Other transactions:

-Restricted free agent cornerback Stanford Routt signed his one-year tender.

-The Raiders released fullback Oren O'Neal, who has been plagued with rather serious knee injuries. This comes on the heels of the Raiders announcing the signing of veteran running back Rock Cartwright.

-In addition to Cartwright, the Raiders will bring in two undrafted rookie free agent fullbacks: Manase Tonga (BYU) and Chane Moline (UCLA).

-Other undrafted rookie free agent signings include DE Alex Daniels, DT Kellen Heard, and OG Alex Parsons.

-Veteran running back Michael Bennett participated in practice on a tryout basis. Bennett is an 11-year veteran and has played for the Vikings, Chiefs, Buccaneers, and the Chargers. Also practicing on a tryout basis was offensive lineman Allen Smith (Stanford).

-The Raiders also signed TE John Owens and DB Joey Thomas.

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