Inside Slant 08.21.2006...

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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Inside Slant

—Two games, two sacks surrendered. Two pre-snap penalties.

This isn't what anyone had in mind for the second overall pick of the 2004 NFL Draft, Robert Gallery included.

Coach Art Shell, a Hall of Fame left tackle himself, said during the Raiders mandatory minicamp he expected nothing less than a Pro Bowl from Gallery. He was finally moving to left tackle after two years at right tackle, the position he played at Iowa when he was considered a lineman in the mold of a Tony Boselli or Jonathan Ogden.

Gallery's promising rookie year was followed by a disappointing second season.

The first two pre-season games of 2006 have not been encouraging.

"I had some mistakes and haven't been myself the last couple of weeks," Gallery said. "But it is the preseason. I am going to get through this and be where I want to be and where everybody says I should be."

Shell said he has bigger problems than the play of Gallery.

"I'm not worried about Robert," Shell said. "Robert is going to be fine."

Part of Gallery's problem could be information overload.

Linemen claim going from the right to the left is like learning to be left-handed after being right-handed. Since joining the Raiders, Gallery's line coaches have been Aaron Kromer, Jim Colletto and now the tandem of co-coaches Irv Eatman and Jackie Slater.

You can throw Shell into that mix as well, as the Raiders coach has spent considerable time working with the linemen.

Shell said the Raiders have dramatically altered techniques in terms of footwork and aggression. Rather than block for a set period of time on a play, with the ball expected to be out with precision, the Raiders are blocking to the whistle and attempting to protect for deeper patterns and five- to seven-step drops.

"When you get into a game, you can sometimes revert to something you've known in the past," Gallery said.

And while Gallery himself said early on going back to left tackle was like riding a bike, he now concedes his comfort level isn't what it could be or should be.

"You just have to get back into it," Gallery said. "You are away for something for two years and it takes a little bit to get back to where I was. Easy as it may be to write and say how I should be able to get comfortable from Day 1, there are some things you've just got to do. It just takes time."

CAMP CALENDAR: The Raiders completed double-day sessions on Thursday, Aug. 17. Training camp breaks at the Napa Marriott Wednesday, Aug. 23.


—The Raiders had two delay of game penalties, two false starts and three offsides penalties, accounting for seven of their nine whistles in a 16-13 win over Minnesota.

"I hate to go back to last year, and I know people hate talking about the past, but that's what we did last year," running back LaMont Jordan said. "Pretty much the same things have been preached, but what we have to do is actually go out there and get the job done."

—Wide receiver Randy Moss caught one pass for 16 yards against Minnesota, then created a mini-controversy that probably didn't deserve the attention it got when he complained about being taken out in the middle of a series.

Moss never raised his voice, but the comments were construed in some outlets as Moss having "ripped" the coach.

Shell didn't seem to mind.

"Randy is no different than any other ballplayer," Shell said. "Fred Biletnikoff used to be frustrated. Young Cliff Branch used to be frustrated. All those guys were frustrated. They all wanted the ball and I understand that. That's good. That means he's competitive and he wants to do well."

—Undrafted free agent tight end John Madsen, a converted wide receiver, is impressing the Raiders with his overall athletic skill. That comes as no surprise to 49ers quarterback Alex Smith, who played with Madsen at Utah and remembers watching him at 4-on-4 basketball tournaments.

"At the end there would be a slam-dunk contest," Smith said. "Here's this guy from Utah up there doing these 360 degree windmills, throwing them down, putting on a show. To see him do that was amazing."

—Sebastian Janikowski, having gone from 265 pounds to 249, hit his first six kicks of the pre-season, including dead-center efforts from 55, 51 and 50 yards.

There was talk after last season, when Janikowski missed a third of his 30 field goal attempts and missed eight of 15 from 40 yards and beyond, that he could be looking for a new team.

Instead, Shell did the opposite.

"I told him when I first met him, `I'm going to count on you,' " Shell said. "I expect you to be a Pro Bowl kicker this year. You have the talent to do that, and I expect that will happen."

Janikowski maintains he struck the ball well for the most part last season, but simply had little or no luck.

"I thought I hit the ball good, it just didn't happen," Janikowski said. "It's like a golf swing — you hit the ball good but it goes left and right."

Speaking of golf, Raiders punter Shane Lechler thinks Janikowski's hot start could lead to something big.

"He plays golf the same way," Lechler said. "If he birdies one, look out. It's going to be a long day."

—Jerry Porter remained on the roster and was making the occasional practice, although he has stopped talking to the media since making his trade demands public at the beginning of training camp.

Safety Jarrod Cooper, when asked if Porter's problems were a business issue as opposed to a team issue, minced no words regarding the unhappy wide receiver.

"I've been in this league six years. I've been the third safety, the second safety, the first safety," Cooper said. "If you have someone who is upset because he's running at three, but he's still contributing to the team, you really don't want that person. You want someone who's contribute any way they're asked, no matter where it's at. That's what you want. If they're not like that, they can get out of here. It's about winning as a team, it's not what you're doing."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I don't see it. Hell no, I don't see it. It seems that way in practice, but when we get into the games, it doesn't seem like we're moving in the right direction." — Raiders wide receiver Randy Moss when asked if the team's offense is making progress following a win over Minnesota.



Since defensive end Bobby Hamilton has started 29 games and been a locker room leader for the past two seasons, it's hard to tell whether the Raiders are phasing him out or merely getting a look at others because they already know what he can do.

The Raiders gave Hamilton's position to Tyler Brayton when Art Shell was hired as head coach, and there has been no indication that Hamilton has any chance of winning the job back.

Hamilton is a stand-up, base end who comes off the field on passing downs. His play during training camp and the pre-season has largely been with the second and third teams, although he has seen time on the first team short-yardage unit.

If the Raiders make a decided effort to go young, Hamilton could be unemployed on the final day of cuts.

—Safety Hiram Eugene intercepted a pass in the end zone to preserve a preseason win against Minnesota, and although he would still appear to be a long shot to make the roster, his play during camp and preseason games is keeping him alive.

—Left guard Barry Sims missed the Raiders game against the 49ers with an inflamed elbow. Sims didn't believe the injury was serious, and the reason he was held out is because the Raiders don't appear to have much depth up front. Corey Hulsey took his place as a starter.

—Middle linebacker Ryan Riddle, an edge player in college and a solid player on special teams, has gotten plenty of work in the middle. If the Raiders decide to part ways with 2004-05 starter Danny Clark — who has been replaced by Kirk Morrison — Riddle could stick on the roster for the second consecutive year.

—Tight end Randal Williams, a converted wide receiver who is still listed at 235 pounds but who appears to have gained considerable weight, played against Minnesota and was the target of at least three intended passes. It is not clear whether Williams, a special teams standout, has retained the skills which made him one of the better gunners on kick coverage in the league.

—LB Robert Thomas, a former first-round pick, returned to practice and will make a belated attempt to make the team as an inside linebacker. If Thomas fares well, the Raiders could decide to part ways with veteran Danny Clark.

BATTLE OF THE WEEK: John Paul Foschi vs. Zack Crockett for starting fullback. They're not battling each other for a specific position, but possibly for a roster spot. Both are listed as fullbacks, but Foschi is strictly a block-and-catch back while Crockett's strength is in short-yardage and in running out of a tailback position. If the Raiders decide on starter LaMont Jordan or Justin Fargas in a running back role, and are committed to going younger, Crockett could be in danger.

OTHER BATTLE FRONTS: Langston Walker vs. Brad Badger at right tackle. Badger could be the fallback position if Walker continues to struggle, unless Chad Slaughter moves from left to right.

—Johnnie Morant vs. Jerry Porter for No. 3 wide receiver. Morant's 67-yard scoring catch won't hurt his chances, and neither will Porter's wishes to be elsewhere.

—Tommy Kelly vs. Terdell Sands for starting defensive tackle. Both are going to play, but one will start alongside Warren Sapp. Kelly is a better at getting into the backfield, but Sands can stand his ground — an important skill in the run-heavy AFC West.

—Kevin Huntley vs. Lance Johnstone at defensive end. They often play on opposite sides, but if Oakland thinks Johnstone's pass rushing skills are too far and in between Huntley could gain a roster spot.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Cornerback Stanford Routt has shown the ability of late to break up passes long and short and may be given the Raiders cause to give him the job as a slot corner they had seemingly ceded to Tyrone Poole.

ROOKIE REPORT: SS Michael Huff (first round) is now the unquestioned starter, but had a conspicuous whiff against Minnesota's Chester Taylor in the box and in practice was beaten deep by Marcellus Rivers when he didn't turn around in time for the pass; LB Thomas Howard (second round) continues to show the speed necessary to overrun an doubts that he should start as a rookie; G Paul McQuistan (third round) seems to have no challengers as the starter at right guard; LB Darnell Bing (fourth round) continues to play on some specialty defenses and on special teams; G Kevin Boothe (sixth round) backs up McQuistan and could make the roster, but could be inactive a majority of the time; C Chris Morris (seventh round) is bound for the practice squad unless the Raiders decide 10-year vet Adam Treu has had enough; WR Kevin McMahan (seventh round) appears headed toward the cut list much as previous Mr. Irrelevant picks Ryan Hoag and Andre Sommersell; WR Will Buchanon (free agent) cooled off after an eye-opening training camp; TE John Madsen (free agent) remains in the mix at a position that appears muddled after starter Courtney Anderson.
Wow, it would be sad to see Zach Crockett go as he is one of my favorite Raiders, but the writing could be on the wall. Foschi is younger and cheaper and might have more upside as a blocker. Fargas looks resurgent at HB so just where would Zach fit in?
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