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Fun and games in Napa

Well, JaMarcus Russell might not know it, but Training Camp 2007 is officially in the bag. Ask any of the Raiders who broke camp this morning, and they’ll tell you about the long days, the hot afternoons, the endless repetition and the aching knees. They won’t tell you about the horseplay, but that’s what I’m here for. Training camp is indeed a grind, but NFL teams have found ways to lighten the burden. Take Rob Ryan’s home run derby, for… Read More »

Ward and CJ making plays

Safety B.J. Ward and cornerback Chris Johnson had very different experiences last Saturday night, but have been similarly solid throughout this training camp. Ward, who missed about a week of camp with a back injury, came up strong against the Cardinals. He lent some hard-nosed support in the run game, and delivered the hit of the night when he drilled tight end Troy Bienemann in the ribs on an incomplete pass over the middle. Ward also hustled downfield to tap… Read More »

Driving with the Raiders

You can file this under the heading of ‘It’s Preseason, so Why All the Excitement?’ if you’d like, but I’m still thinking about the 12-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that Andrew Walter and the Raiders mounted at the end of the first quarter and into the early second quarter last night. There’s always a danger of reading too much into a preseason performance. The drive did come against the Arizona starters, though. And it got me wondering: How many 12-play, 80-yard… Read More »

And Who’s Not…

Three days ago I told you about some players who are making an impact in Napa. But there are always winners and losers at training camp, and they can change from week to week, or even from day to day. Here are some guys who need to step it up over the next week and a half or risk getting bumped. RB LaMONT JORDAN: Thanks to a back injury, Jordan has missed more than half of the Raiders’ practices during… Read More »

Offense sending up red flags

Two weeks into training camp, Raiders fans have reason to be a little nervous about their offense. The system designed by Lane Kiffin and co-constructed by Greg Knapp has yet to show much rhythm. Granted, it doesn’t look as ragged as the offense we saw a year ago in camp, but there are warning signs galore. In 11-on-11 team sessions, the defense looks way ahead of the offense. The offensive line, expected to improve measurably under new position coach Tom… Read More »

Who’s Hot in Napa

OK, we’re into the 12th day of training camp, awaiting our 16th practice. It’s time to identify a few Raiders who have been standing out because of their excellent play. In a couple days, I’ll point out the guys who have been standing out for, uh, other reasons. OREN O’NEAL: The sixth-round draft choice from Arkansas State has the size (5-11, 245) and muscle you want in a fullback, and he figures to be a solid special-teams player. The question… Read More »

Best training-camp drills of 2007

Though there are always interesting tidbits to observe, training-camp practices can start to seem repetitive in a hurry. Most NFL teams run the same drills, and they vary only a little from year to year. Still, there is usually a new wrinkle or two. Norv Turner instituted a ball-control exercise among the running backs that used a football with an elastic band attached. Last year, Ted Daisher’s kickers took aim from the sideline, giving them collapsed goal posts to thread,… Read More »

The Al Davis Show

As my compadre Lowell Cohn wrote about this morning, it was a kinder, gentler Al Davis who entertained and even charmed a meeting room at the Napa Valley Marriott for a full hour Wednesday. Davis’ first words when he entered the room were directed at Lowell. He suggested that the relationship between Lowell and him, or Lowell and the team, had grown strained because Davis’ high school, Erasmus Hall, consistently trounced Lowell’s back in Brooklyn. Davis called a press conference… Read More »