OTA News & Notes

The Raiders concluded their first round of OTA's on Wednesday. New Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson continues to be an energetic motivator, despite his quarterbacks' struggles. There are a few significant players who were unavailable, including a few rookies, and of course, veteran Richard Seymour.

The Raiders concluded their first session of organized training activities on Wednesday, and it was more or less a carry over of mini-camp. Unavailable were the familiar names and faces, the quarterbacks struggled, and new Offensive Coordinator Hue Jackson was loud as ever.

Rolando McClain continues to impress, if not for his work ethic and willingness to compete, then his ability to transition so well from the college ranks to the NFL. If McClain has gone through some expected rookie struggles, he has done a good job of hiding it behind his competitiveness. Thus far, McClain has done a good job working in traffic and disengaging from offensive linemen. There are quite a few people who were disappointed to see Kirk Morrison go, but the very early verdict on McClain is that he will more than quell those misgivings.

The quarterbacks struggled today, as they continue to familiarize themselves with a new offensive coordinator and a different scheme. Much has been made of Jason Campbell and the fact that he has played for a different offensive coordinator nearly every season dating back to his college days. And although Charlie Frye has been with the Raiders for a year, he is also learning a different system. With that in mind, the quarterback who might have the biggest advantage in terms of understanding Jackson's scheme might be Kyle Boller. Boller did not fair much better than Campbell or Frye, but he did mention that he has "had some of this offense before" while both he and Jackson were in Baltimore. While this might not have any effect on the top two spots (Campbell and Gradkowski), the battle for the third quarterback position might play into Boller's favor if he is able to master Jackson's offense quicker than Frye.

Again, Hue Jackson has been a boisterous presence on the field. Regardless of where your attention is drawn, if someone on offense makes a mistake, you will immediately realize at the sound of Jackson's voice. Said Jason Campbell on Jackson, "it excites everyone around us. There's not going to be a quiet practice here, I know. As long as he's here, it's going to be rowdy."

As far as positional experiments go, Khalif Barnes, who is expected to battle with Langston Walker for the starting right tackle spot, got a lot of time at left guard. Rookie offensive tackle Jared Veldheer also got some time at center.

Don't look too much into any of this. If anything, Head Coach Tom Cable is exploring whatever possibilities there are now, so that once training camp and the preseason start, he can go with the five best linemen he has. Based on the moves they have made, it looks like the Raiders are placing a premium on versatility along the offensive line.

Rookies Lamarr Houston, Bruce Campbell, and Alex Daniels were unavailable due to schools issues. Houston and Campbell are expected back on Wednesday night.

Bruce Gradkowski is out of his arm sling, but he is still unavailable to practice until training camp. Gradkowski had offseason surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. Wide receiver Chaz Schilens is still out after undergoing a procedure on his left foot. On his wide receiver, Cable stated, "I think we'll take our time with that, just to be smart. I don't want to do anything to set it back. If he's there when we go to camp, which he will be, I'll be happy with that." Somewhat disconcerting, given the amount of time Schilens has already lost to injury and the fact that he is arguably the Raiders' best wide receiver.

Nick Miller, who lost his rookie season to a broken shin, was finally back out practicing. Miller got some time at wide receiver, and will again compete for kick return duties. The kick and punt return positions will be an interesting to battle to watch this upcoming training camp. In addition to Miller, the Raiders return Johnnie Lee Higgins and welcome in veteran Yamon Figurs and rookie Jacoby Ford.

Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy was out, nursing a strained hamstring from Tuesday.

Defensive end Richard Seymour is still out, as he has yet to sign his franchise tender. Cable was uncertain about Seymour's situation, only saying that the two sides were working on a deal and that he did not know if Seymour would be available to participate in any OTA's.
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