As the media frenzy showed up at mini camp, the first thing that jumped out was the fact that the star(s) of the show (JaMarcus Russell and the QBs), were completely on the other side of the field. This was clearly by design. Which quarterback threw to 1st, 2nd and 3rd team also looked like they pulled names out of a hat. Gradkowski was not working out for the morning practice, Charlie Frye was throwing with the first team, Russell with the 2nd teams, Jason Campbell with the 3rd team and Kyle Boller bringing up the rear with the 4th team.
Russell is looking very good and arguably the best among the Raider QB’s. However, we shouldn’t read much into that considering these were just passing drills without a defense. But as Jerry McDonald said “You got to start somewhere.”
No word yet on Russell’s weight as the rumors have him breaking the 300 pound barrier again. His size could be another reason the Raiders have the QB’s so far from the curious eyes of the media. Some think he looks thinner but that could just be the distance. He is certainly moving better so that is a good sign.
Jason Campbell is struggling in his first practice. One drop back, he pump faked and then just dropped the ball. He was nearly intercepted a couple other times. First by Nnamdi, then by Chris Johnson on a wounded duck of a throw that hung in the air waiting to be intercepted and amazingly wasn’t. He is overall, throwing some ugly, wobbley passes but it is to be expected in his first practice with his new team.
According to Russell “Me and Campbell are not fighting each other” and he feels he made the necessary adjustments to compete. Click here to see Russell’s entire Q&A
Nnamdi Asomugha weighed in on the matter, “This is a fresh start for [Campbell]… Competition is what you live for as a team. Jason gives Russell a chance to step up.”
Darrius Heyward-Bey came out sporting his new #85 and intitially looked quite good. In fact many of those completions have been coming in a Russell to Heyward-Bey connection. But his solid catches didn’t last long. No sooner had the offense added defenders to the field, but he was back to Drops Hella-Balls. Heyward-Bey started to look like he had it figured out by the end of last year’s training camp only to look like he had never seen a football before once the season started. He does look better overall in this camp that he did last year though. So perhaps there is reason for some optimism.
Jacoby Ford is wearing DHB’s old number 12. And thus far it looks like the stigma must have something to do with the number. Ford missed his very first pass DHB style and is struggling a bit. Good thing Gannon never had to catch any passes.
After practice Jacoby said “I got a small chip on my shoulder to show I am a football player and not just an athlete.” As I recall, so did DHB. Chips on shoulders don’t seem to help with the arms and hands attached to them pulling in a football. But I suppose it can’t hurt.
Chaz Schilens is not practicing although we are not sure why just yet. Currently he stands on the sideline watching the action in a baseball cap.
Louis Murphy goes out for a long pass from Kyle Boller, gets tangled in coverage and injures his ankle. Practice ends two plays later and Murphy limps off the field visibly in pain. We will let you know how he is when we know.
Also Oren O’Neal is nowhere to be found**. Lawton is taking the first team reps at fullback.
Robert Gallery looks fully healthy again after his back surgery.
Jared Veldheer is taking dummy reps at left tackle while Bruce Campbell does likewise at right guard.
As for the Defense…
The 1st team consists of Jay Richardson, Tommy Kelly, Desmond Bryant and Matt Shaughnessy along the defensive line. Kamerion Wimbley, Rolando McClain, and Trevor Scott at linebackerr. Chris Johnson and Nnamdi Asomugha at corner. Then Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff at the safety spots. Richard Seymour is not practicing because he has yet to sign his franchise tag. He probably won’t be on the field until training camp in Napa.
Rookie LB Rolando McClain has surpised a few members of the media at just how big he is in person.
Tommy Kelly tweaked his ankle at one point and had to go to the sideline to get it taped up. But he returned and appeared no worse for wear.
With the 2nd team, Lemarr Houston has been lining up at left defensive end in the 4-3.
Mike Mitchell and Hiram Eugene are working at safety with the 2nd team defense.
(Patrick Patterson contributed to this article)