Well, yet another practice where hitting was the subject of the day. Cable has been letting them go fast and furious in the past couple of days. And the difference shows. The players are loving the intensity that is for sure.
“It’s one of the best practices we had this camp and at any time last year”, said Trevor Scott. “Coach Cable, he wants to go full pads all the time. Last year we were going (shells), but he put the pants on and it’s a different mentality. We talked about yesterday coming out, improving every day to go where we want to go we’ve got to come out and grind every day.”
It is becoming clear very quickly that there in a huge difference between camp Kiffin and Camp Cable. And that can only be a good thing.
Rage Against the McFadden
For the second day in a row Jon Alston got in a scuffle with an offensive player. Yesterday he and Tony Stewart got into it and today it was he and Darren McFadden. It appears that Alston may just be taking his job as the possible starting strong side line backer pretty seriously. And after he took McFadden down hard out of bounds, causing Dmac’s helmet to come off, it got…less than friendly. McFadden charged at Alston but both players were kept apart by teammates. At which point it seemed Alston was the more angry of the two, shouting expletives and provoking McFadden even more. After practice though, Dmac seemed to have let it all go.
“I think it just got a little intense”. said McFadden. “It just gets a little heated, so it’s something that happens in practice. He’s a guy out there competing, and I guess guys get competitive back with him. You just laugh it off like ‘it’s all good’ you know, we go to the next day, you don’t hold a grudge or say nothing about it, you just go to the next day.”
Coach Cable didn’t seem to mind the pushing and shoving. In fact, he seemed to encourage it.
“Jon’s a smart guy. Jon loves to play. He’s very passionate, so you got to let that passion kind of play itself out a little bit.”
Cable also especially enjoyed the effect it had on the offense and the team as a whole.
“The defense really set the tempo today. The encouraging thing was right there in the middle of practice the offense really answered it. The whole rest of the way in the team periods it got very competitive and that is what we are trying to build. It is that old saying, that iron sharpens iron and to be able to push each other as far and as hard as we can to become a team that competes all the time.
“It’s something that we’ve talked a lot about. Let’s not be pretenders. Let’s bring it out of each other, accept it and play off it. You get your jaw knocked around and you give it back. You get where your team is so competitive and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Well, hopefully they will save some of that intensity for the opposition. And hopefully no one (else) gets hurt in the process.
Super Mario All day every day
As quickly as Cable put the left tackle position up for grabs, Mario Henderson is all alone in the starting role again.
Just the other day Khalif Barnes had said that he would be reluctant to move to right tackle should he lose out on the starting left tackle job. And now he doesn’t need to worry about it because he will be sitting out 6-8 weeks with a broken ankle.
“When I initially got hit I could tell it was the ankle. I told the trainers, ‘I think my ankle’s broken. The MRI on the knee was fine. That was one of my main concerns but that ended up being OK. The doctor said yesterday just to cast me up because right now it’s non-disclosed so I don’t need surgery. Had it been disclosed I probably would have had screws or plates or something.
“Yesterday morning, I remember the play and all that, it was on the other side, the right side, the tackle and D-tackle were going at it and they came over and the pile got pushed up. Stuff that happens in football. It’s nobody’s fault. It was something fre akish that happened and I got rolled up on the back.
“I guess the one thing you can take positive out of it is it happened this early. They say 6-8 weeks or something like that.”
That would have him coming back by week four of the regular season. By which point, the Raiders should have a pretty good idea of whether Mario Henderson can continue with his stellar play from last season. And now is the time to start pumping up Henderson to let him know that he deserved the starting job all along. Coach Cable knows this.
“I really think when you block guys like Mario [Williams] or [Richard] Seymore, those are really quality players, and I think that coming into those games he was obviously excited but nervous, you have to find a lot about yourself in those situations. The way he played, particularly against those two guys in the end did a lot for his confidence and I think that is what you are seeing now.
“He has worked so hard and has really changed who he was early in his career and I think if you talked to Mario, he would probably tell you that his mind was made up he was really going after this thing. He knew he was going to be pressed but to me all this does to him is put a little heat on him to be right all the time.”
Trevor Scott has to try and take him on the edge every day in practice and today especially, he was being handled on the block all day. So he certainly had only good thing to say about Mario’s play on the field.
“Mario’s definitely improved a lot. He worked real hard on his techinique and getting stronger and faster this offseason and hes going to be great for us.”
Waving a Magic Wand
With Barnes out, someone has to take his place. And the Raiders filled that spot with a familiar face from seasons past; Seth Wand. Who said he was working out and helping a friend coach a high school football team near Kansas City when his phone rang.
Wand was with the Raiders last season until he went down with injury early in the season.
“I was with them last year and I got staph on my knee. Got kind of put on IR. Like Week 3. We flew to Buffalo and I was laying in bed and my knee was kind of like catching on fire.”
And while he is not slated to back up Henderson at left tackle- that job is going to Eric Pears- the team needs a certain number of tackles for camp and ultimately the season so his addition was a necessary one. Wand knows which side his bread is buttered on though.
“[left tackle is] what I mostly have done. I started at left tackle for a year in Houston five years ago or whatever. But if this is probably going to work, I’m probably going to be doing both sides…just mostly tackle. If they threw me in [at guard] it wouldn’t freak me out at all.”
Unfortunately the new addition meant there needed to be a subtraction. That unlucky soul was TE/LB project Chris O’Neill.
But I have a feeling you haven’t heard the last of Chris O’Neill much like we didn’t hear the last of QB Danny Southwick after he was waived. I have a pretty good feeling O’Neill has a spot on the practice squad by the end of camp if he wants it. And if he could hang around as an intern like Southwick, that would be good too.