Romanowski a hit with Raiders

One of the highlights of Bill Romanowski's career in Denver was a vicious collision with Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon in the next-to-last game of the regular season. Now with the Raiders, Romanowski is no less inclined to lay the smack down.

Just ask running back Madre Hill, the recipient of a hard hit by the veteran linebacker on a play that highlighted the team's first day of live hitting at training camp.

Hill, who joined the Raiders as a free agent, never had a chance trying to run up the middle after taking a handoff. Coming out of the backfield Hill was greeted by Romanowski, who leveled the second-year player out of Arkansas.

Though Romanowski was lightly admonished by the coaching staff, teammates loved the play. After practicing in shorts and helmets for the first two days of training camp, the Raiders went live in practice Sunday, giving players a chance to finally hit someone.

Romanowski's hit on Hill wasn't the only eye-opener -- Greg Biekert drilled Jerry Porter coming across the middle -- but it was the most talked about play. An intense player whose motor rarely just idles, Romanowski's made a career out of knocking people around.

The Raiders don't mind that at all, as long as he holds back a little around his own teammates.

''He's accustomed to a tempo other than ours,'' said Oakland head coach Bill Callahan. ''In our 7-on-7 drills we don't thud our running backs. He likes to thud a little. It's his habit he's trying to break. He just has to hold back some of his energy on the field.''

Overall, Callahan was pleased with the Raiders first day of hitting. The players were ready for a step up in practice pace and showed it. Offensive and defensive players continually playfully jawed at one another throughout the morning practice, most prominently cornerback Charles Woodson and running back Charlie Garner.

''It was a fun day,'' Callahan said. ''I thought the guys established a physical presence on the field. It was great to be back in pads. They were hootin' and hollerin' at each other during (pre-practice) stretch.''


Quarterback Rich Gannon had a rough start to the 9-on-7 drills. Working from the 10-yard line, Gannon had two of his passes picked off by the Raiders defense. Romanowski snagged a ball out of the air in the left corner of the end zone, taking a pass away from running back Randy Jordan. Later, Gannon tried to squeeze a ball in to Jerry Porter but cornerback Terrance Shaw popped Porter and knocked the ball loose. Rookie linebacker Napoleon Harris pulled it out of the air for the interception. But Gannon got the last laugh, coming back to fire a trio of touchdown passes ... Now that Callahan is calling the shots, look for the Raiders to employ more screen passes into their offensive repertoire. Callahan has long been a proponent of the screen play and has made it a point during the first three days of camp to emphasize the play. Garner, in particular, has looked very strong off such plays. All of the running backs, in fact, seem in favor of utilizing screens more frequently than Oakland did under former head coach Jon Gruden. ''To me, a screen play is like a long handoff to the running back,'' said Randy Jordan. ''You're able to get out in the open space, you're able to get the athletic guys, which our offensive linemen are, out in space against littler guys and DBs and get some mismatches. With Charlie Garner and the backs that we have, the screen game can be very big. It'll be a great change-up because we haven't done it in the past. It puts another bullet in our holster. In the past we've been kind of predictable in certain situations. Just adding that is going to be very very helpful.'' ... Because of rising temperatures in the Napa Valley, Callahan cut short the afternoon practice.


Rookie tight end Doug Jolley did not practice after aggravating a groin injury. Jolley first injured himself during the team's June mini-camp then went through the first three practices before pulling up lame following Saturday's afternoon session ... The Raiders are closely monitoring wide receiver James Jett. Jett tweaked a hamstring early in training camp and has been limited in what work he does get. During afternoon practices Jett has generally been jogging around the two practice fields while practice continues ... Running back Tyrone Wheatley (calf) continues to be day-to-day.


''We don't have Nutcracker drills here.'' -- head coach Bill Callahan, talking about the fiestiness of his players during Sunday's practice, the of training camp in full pads.

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