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Feb 2, 2006
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Some more from camp....

Shell envisions good things in Raiders' future

Michelle Smith, Chronicle Staff Writer

Saturday, May 6, 2006

The Raiders' second mini-camp of the offseason, which began Friday, was the first public sign of Oakland's new direction since Art Shell was rehired as the head coach in February.

The Raiders' first mini-camp was held in seclusion, without the intrusion of the media. This camp, a mandatory three-day affair, revealed much on its first day, including rookie arrivals, position changes and a quarterback competition. Shell said Friday he's already preparing his team for success and talking in terms of championships.

"I said to them ... it doesn't matter what anyone thinks outside these walls. It's what we believe in. That's what counts," Shell said. "We believe we can win if you prepare. I keep saying it. If you visualize being successful, we can get it done."

The day marked the debut of three Oakland draft picks -- Michael Huff, Thomas Howard and Darnell Bing. First-round choice Huff, a defensive back from Texas, worked with the first team on his first day and cemented his status as the team's great hope by assuming both the jersey number and locker of former star Charles Woodson.

Huff said he got Woodson's permission to wear No. 24. Huff said lining up against Randy Moss for the first time was a heady moment.

"It was my first experience and he scored on me," Huff said. "But that's kind of part of the territory, so I've got to go out there and get better every day."

Moss, meanwhile, caught his first passes from quarterback Aaron Brooks after missing the first camp with an excused absence.

"Being a quarterback and being on the same team and in the same offense as he is, it just brings a smile to your face, because he can make the weakest quarterback the best," Brooks said. "To have an opportunity to play with a receiver who's as talented as he is, you've just got to embrace it and try to do everything you can to get him the ball, but not try to overdo it."

Brooks worked with the No. 1 offense in the morning practice, but finds himself in an open quarterback competition with backups Marcus Tuiasosopo and Andrew Walter, who took snaps in that order Friday.

"That's the way we are today," Shell said. "The last camp was different. It might be different next time."

Shell said he would like the position settled before training camp.

"But if it's not, we'll go to camp and try and find that guy," Shell said.

Shell is also shuffling the offensive line, moving Barry Sims to left guard as Robert Gallery moves to left tackle. Sims has been the Raiders' starter at left tackle since 1999, but is resigned to the change.

"It's learning a new position, even though they're side by side," Sims said. "There's a lot of different aspects to it, but things are going pretty good so far. It's a process that takes time."

The adjustment to a new coaching staff has been easier.

"It feels good. It feels like we're on the right path, everybody's doing the right thing. Everybody's held accountable for our actions and what we do," Sims said. "The only way you'll be successful is to have that accountability and this coaching staff is different than the last couple where everybody gets held accountable and we are doing the right things. It takes me back a little bit to my first couple of years with Gruden. It's a lot like that. Everybody's in charge of what they're supposed to be doing. If they don't do it, then put someone else in there to do it."

Sims said that was not always the case.

"The last few years, it seemed a little too loose, like we didn't really have the leadership that we have now," he said.

Camp notes: Defensive tackle Warren Sapp, who missed the final month and a half of last season, said he's ready to play after months of rehabbing his surgically repaired rotator cuff. Sapp was in uniform Friday, but saw limited action. ... Still healing is wide receiver Ronald Curry, who will be inactive this weekend. ... Tyrone Poole, the former Patriots cornerback who signed as a free agent in March, was given an excused absence.
Sims makes way for Gallery at LT

By Jerry McDonald, STAFF WRITER

ALAMEDA — Barry Sims was given the inside story in March.
He was to trade life on the island for an existence in a phone booth.

The Oakland Raiders starting left tackle since 1999, Sims was asked to move to left guard and make way for Robert Gallery.

"I wasn't completely surprised," Sims said Friday on the first day of the Raiders' mandatory three-day minicamp. "I figured they'd like to see Robert where he was drafted to play. I was happy I was able to stay over there for two more years. We'll see how things go."

While Sims conceded the switch is going to take some adjustment, Gallery, who started at right tackle the past two years after being the No.2 pick overall in the 2004 draft, said he felt right at home.

"I'm comfortable already," Gallery said. "I'll get the little things down and move on."

Gallery wasn't the only player moving to a familiar position. Langston Walker, drafted as a tackle in 2002, but the starting left guard last season before suffering an intra-abdominal hemorrhage, has moved back to right tackle and was running with the first team.

"It was like forgetting what you'd learned your whole life, playing guard," Walker said. "So coming back, it's easy."

The other two-line starters on the first day were Jake Grove at center and Brad Badger at right guard. Grove gave way to Adam Treu during Friday's second practice, as the Raiders plan to work Grove only in the mornings through this weekend as he recovers from knee surgery.

Sims, Raiders coach Art Shell said, surrendered his position gracefully but grudgingly.

SENSORY OVERLOAD: Top draft pick Michael Huff was immediately working with the first-team defense and was moved about the secondary on his first day of practice, meaning he'll probably used in the manner of the departed Charles Woodson — as a roving playmaker.

Huff, in fact, said he received permission from Woodson to wear his No.24 and may call him again for advice.

Part of his indoctrination Friday included getting burned on a deep ball by Randy Moss for a touchdown.

"That's kind of part of the territory," Huff said. "You've got to go out there and get better every day."

Shell had no qualms about loading up Huff's plate on the first day.

"We watched him in college, he's capable of doing a lot of different things, and his versatility is very important to what we're doing on defense," Shell said. Shell said he could sense some of the rookies were thinking as much as they were playing.

"When they came in last night, we were only able to meet with them for one hour," Shell said. "I told them, 'We're going to throw a lot of things at you, you've just got to try and decipher it and learn it as best you can This morning you could see it in their eyes. You'd call a play and their eyes would get as big as balloons. By this afternoon, you could see improvement."

Linebacker Thomas Howard, a second-round draft pick from Texas-El Paso, was trying to learn and enjoy himself at the same time.

"I make a mistake. It's the first day. But I'm going to try and make the mistake going 100 percent," Howard said. "They want to see you run fast and be fast in everything you do."

EXTRA POINTS: Veterans added to the roster included RB Rod Smart and LB Robert Thomas. Smart has been predominantly a kickoff return specialist with Philadelphia in 2001 and Carolina from 2002-05. Thomas, a former first-round pick out of UCLA, played with St. Louis from 2002-04 and was with Green Bay last season. ... LB Sam Williams has recovered well enough from ACL surgery last August to play with the first-team defense at outside linebacker.

WR Ronald Curry (Achilles' surgery) was dressed but did not practice, and DT Warren Sapp (rotator cuff surgery) was limited but said he would be ready to go full speed by the June minicamp.

... The experiment of using Tyler Brayton as a linebacker is officially over. Shell said Brayton is a defensive end. ... Veteran CB Tyrone Poole was excused from the minicamp for undisclosed reasons.
More on Brooks....

Raiders' Brooks chooses not to live in the past

By Jason Jones -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PDT Saturday, May 6, 2006

ALAMEDA - Aaron Brooks wants to move on after last year.
That was the message from the quarterback on his first day taking snaps as a Raider.

After finishing his sixth season with New Orleans on the Saints' bench in 2005, Brooks signed a two-year contract with Oakland in March in hopes of proving he still is capable of starting in the NFL.
Brooks, a seven-year veteran, was benched by the Saints after 13 games last season. For the first time in his career, he finished a season with more interceptions (17) than touchdown passes (13). It was a difficult situation for Brooks and the Saints, who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.

Friday, he worked with the Raiders' first-team offense on the first day of minicamp. He was happy with his new surroundings but reflected on how his tenure with the Saints ended.

"Yeah, it was tough," Brooks said. "It was extremely difficult, frustrating, even at times irritable. It's something we all went through. We got through it. It's a new year. Hopefully nothing like that happens again in the city, or in the country anyway. ... It's a thing of the past now, and we're just moving on."

The irritation last season came to a head for Brooks in a television interview in which he criticized Saints owner Tom Benson and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue for their handling of the Saints, who were forced to play a "home" game last season against the New York Giants in the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

New Orleans released Brooks after the season and signed Drew Brees as a free agent.

"New Orleans is New Orleans, and it's back there in the past," Brooks said. "The only thing I've got left there is a lot of memories, a lot of friends, teammates and a house that I'm trying to sell."

With a fresh start, Brooks is optimistic.

"Hopefully an earthquake doesn't hit Oakland," Brooks said. "I think everything will be fine so I don't have to worry about anything, just rely on the coaches and take their coaching points."

Brooks already has made an impression on teammates, who like his arm strength and athleticism.

"It will be exciting to have someone in there that's got some mobility and some leadership," guard Barry Sims said. "He's a good quarterback, and we're excited to have him in here."

Brooks looked crisp in practice, but coach Art Shell said "there's nothing set in stone" regarding the depth chart at quarterback.

Brooks isn't putting much emphasis on being No. 1 now. He said he will work hard "until the first regular-season game starts and I'm the one under center."

"I'm a polished vet," Brooks said. "I've thrown for 20,000 yards and over 100 touchdowns. ... I don't have to prove anything. I've got to play football the way Aaron Brooks knows how."
Art showing who is boss...

Things are going to be different around here, the new coach says. How many times have you heard that whenever a change of leadership takes place?

Art Shell said as much upon his replacing Norv Turner as Raiders coach Feb. 12. Any doubts as to the veracity of Shell's comments were erased in face-to-face meetings with the players soon after his hiring.

In one such meeting, veteran wide receiver Jerry Porter tested the waters and soon learned that this no longer is Turner's team. A get-to-know-you meeting turned into a war of words and ended with Shell booting Porter from his office. But not before letting Porter know who is in charge.

"Attitudes and things like that will have to be changed somewhat ... ," Shell said. "I have to set the tone. I expect to set the tone."
Ooooooohhhhh...Porter you little dickhead...I love it that Art put him in his place. The guy is becoming a cancer on this team. Wouldn't hurt my feelings one bit if the Raiders shipped him to another team. Unfortunately I don't think that is going to happen because of cap implications! :mad:
Porter was a potential cancer on the team. He was a cyst. Art just performed a biopsy. We'll see if it's cancerous very soon.
More info....

Huff already impressing Raiders' veterans

Saturday, May 6, 2006

(05-06) 21:13 PDT Alameda, Calif. (AP) --

Michael Huff is making a good first impression.

The defensive back out of Texas, who was the Oakland Raiders' first round choice (seventh overall pick) in the recent draft, is dazzling some of his new teammates during this weekend's minicamp at the team's practice facility.

"He has to be one of the best cover safeties in the league right now, without even playing a game," veteran Raider defensive back Jarrod Cooper said Saturday. "And that's just after watching him practicing two days."

Head coach Art Shell also likes what he sees from Huff, though he is a little more restrained. "He's doing well," Shell said. "He's exactly what we expected."

The Raiders are not restricting Huff to one position but plan on his lining up at different spots.

"He's capable of doing those things, that's why he's in there working, Shell said. "We watched him in college, he's capable of doing a lot of different things, and his versatility is very important to what we're planning on doing on defense."

Huff said that in his four seasons at Texas he played cornerback, strong safety, free safety and even linebacker, so position shifting is nothing new.

"I think it was to put me in the best position to make plays," Huff said. "If the other team had a hotshot receiver they put me on him. A hot shot tight end, I'd be on him."

Cooper said that do-it-all defensive backs are becoming the NFL norm.

"That's what you need," he said. "Nowadays you can't just be a safety or a corner. You have got to do everything. That's one of the reasons they drafted him — his versatility."

The most recent Raiders multi-use defensive back was four-time Pro Bowl participant Charles Woodson, now with the Packers after eight years in Oakland.

"Huff reminds me a lot of Woodson when he first came in the league," said Cooper. "He has a lot of the same mannerisms, and he's real smooth, like Woodson."

Huff has even taken Woodson's uniform number 24 and is using the same locker in the practice facility. The two have spoken, and Huff received Woodson's blessing to take the number and even made himself available for counsel.

"He told me to call him if I need some advice, if I'm struggling or I see anything I need to learn, I maybe would call him, but I've got great defensive backs here that I can learn from," Huff said.

Fabian Washington, another defensive back who was the Raiders' first round pick a year ago, said Huff has some time to learn the ropes but may not need it.

"I told him yesterday, 'This camp is not the end of the world. If you don't get it in this camp, it's still a long summer,'" said Washington, who became a starter halfway through the 2005 season. "But the way he progressed yesterday and today, he is going to get it. He is going to be ready to play. He's coming on a lot faster than I did."


NOTES: Defensive back Nnamdi Asomugha left the field after twisting a knee during the morning practice Saturday and did not return. "He tried to break up a pass, and he just landed the wrong way, turned his knee," Shell said. "You're always concerned when a player goes down. But we sent him to the medical people and they'll let us know what's going on." ... Barry Sims, the starter at left tackle since 1999, continued to work out at left guard as 2004 top draft pick Robert Gallery has assumed the left tackle spot. "Many years he played tackle for the Raiders and played well. And he's doing a good job at the guard position," Shell said. "I didn't expect anything less, because he's a good football player."
Huff is a top 10 pick, and the draft's top DB - I would expect for him to look sharp
It's pretty exciting to hear these comments from players. Huff is gonna be a monster for us. :D
And only one of us had the balls to select him in our draft poll. :D

I hope it's obvious by now that I rarely, if ever, guess right on these things and am having fun with it.
Raiders notes: Jordan is seeking to fuel the Raiders

The running back hopes for more opportunities to carry the ball this year.

By Jason Jones -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 2:15 am PDT Sunday, May 7, 2006
Story appeared in Sports section, Page C9

ALAMEDA - It takes a fan of World Wrestling Entertainment to appreciate the T-shirt LaMont Jordan wore Saturday.

His "Diesel Power" T-shirt was in reference to Diesel (Kevin Nash), the former 6-foot-11 WWE champion during the mid-1990s, who always entered the ring to the sound of truck horns blaring and won matches by overpowering the opposition with his jackknife power bomb.

Pro wrestling history aside, Jordan would like to be the diesel that puts the Raiders' underachieving offense of last season into high gear.
In 2005, he ran for a career-high 1,025 yards in 14 games and nine touchdowns for the Raiders after four seasons as Curtis Martin's backup with the New York Jets.

Jordan didn't shy from criticizing his own play. But former coach Norv Turner's offense didn't use the 5-10, 230-pound Jordan like someone given a five-year contract worth a reported $27.5 million.

Jordan carried the ball fewer than 20 times in eight games, all losses. Oakland was 4-2 when Jordan had at least 20 carries.

Jordan had a career-best 70 catches for 563 yards and two scores, but he wasn't brought to Oakland to be second on the team in receptions.

First-year coach Art Shell said he is committed to beating up teams up front, and Jordan looks forward to fueling the offense.

"If you look at Art Shell's history, he's an offensive lineman," Jordan said. "And those guys like to lay hands on people, and they like to run the ball. I've been told we're going to run the ball, so I have to make sure I'm prepared."

Jordan said he is curbing the excesses of his lifestyle and changing his eating habits. He is also looking into yoga as an offseason training method.

It's all a part of discipline and sacrifice, Jordan said.

Rugged redhead - Derrick Burgess was asked about a rookie on offense, and like most veterans he wasn't sure about his name.

"Seventy-nine ... mullet?" Burgess asked.

"Mullet" is actually tackle Paul McQuistan, the team's third-round pick from Weber State. After two days of practice, he has shown the nasty disposition the Raiders desire.

"He looks like one of those tough guys," Burgess said.

McQuistan's surliness was evident in morning pass-blocking drills. McQuistan was physical with defensive end Tyler Brayton, eliciting a shove from Brayton after the whistle.

McQuistan traded nastiness for humility after the morning session.

"I don't really put too much stock into that," McQuistan said. "It probably takes away from the game and what I'm trying to do as far as getting better."

Still, Shell has been impressed with McQuistan.

"He has a chance to be a pretty good football player," Shell said. "Every snap he's getting better, and he's learning something different and new."

Mirroring Woodson - Rookie defensive back Michael Huff not only was issued jersey No. 24, formerly worn by the player he idolized growing up, the first-round pick from Texas also was given Charles Woodson's former locker.

One fewer corner - Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha twisted his knee during one-on-one drills against wide receivers during morning practice. He left the field and did not come out for the afternoon session.
Raiders' rookie accustomed to hype
It took only one play in high school for Huff's star to start shining

By Steve Corkran

ALAMEDA - Michael Huff's collegiate career at the University of Texas ended with people wondering if there is anything he can't do on a football field. He played every secondary position, returned kicks, blocked kicks, whatever coaches asked him to do.

If people only knew how far he had traveled to get to that point.

Four years earlier, Huff arrives at the school's campus in Austin, confident but uncertain what awaits him. His father, Michael, is there to temper any unrealistic expectations.

"When his father dropped him off he said, 'Coach, Michael is really fast, but he's not a great football player. See what you can do with him,' " recalled Duane Akina, the co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach at Texas.

It isn't long before Akina realizes there isn't much Huff can't accomplish. Huff developed into an instant starter his freshman season and remained a starter through Texas' final game, a Rose Bowl victory over Southern Cal for the national championship in January.

A little more than three months later, the Raiders selected Huff at No. 7 in the first round of the NFL draft. Today, he is right back where he was when he arrived at the University of Texas, draped by lofty expectations and the subject of much hype.

Huff is hesitant to make any bold predictions about the impact he'll have on the Raiders. His sole focus is to be prepared for whatever they throw his way and rely upon his immense athletic talent to make that a reality.

To that end, Huff has been preparing for this moment since his Texas career ended.

Most of his college teammates attended a ceremony at the White House in their honor on Valentine's Day. While they hammed it up with President Bush, Huff worked out in Tempe, Ariz.

"He will gain his respect from the veterans, from everybody, because of who he is ... ," Akina said. "The Oakland fans, coaches, everybody, is going to love him."

No one loves Huff more than his mother, Birdie King. She was so protective of the lone child she had with his father that she refused to let him play football when it first sparked his interest.

"He was 9 years old and he wanted to play," King said from her home in Irving, Texas, a short distance from Texas Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys. "When he asked, I told him the team was full."

In reality? "I kind of lied to him," she confessed. "I didn't want my baby to get hurt."

King had no recourse but to give in the next year, when Huff learned that his Little League coach also coached the youth football team.

"I couldn't tell that story again," King said.

Huff dabbled in football, baseball, basketball and track well into high school. His mother envisioned her son being a baseball player.

Huff was unsure which sport he wanted to pursue, so much so that he turned down a spot on the Nimitz High School varsity football team his sophomore year so he could play more on the junior varsity.

He got summoned to the varsity once the playoffs started that season. Huff thought he was there as a reward for his play on the junior varsity. His coaches had other ideas.

Late in a playoff game at Texas Stadium against The Colony High School, Huff got sent in as an extra wide receiver. Run a post route, his quarterback instructed him.

Huff used his sprinter's speed to blow past the defender, caught the ball and turned the play into a game-tying touchdown. Huff didn't play the rest of the game. Nimitz won the game in double overtime.

One play, one touchdown, a star is born.

"That is when I realized that I could play football at a high level," Huff said. "That was the turning point."

Some so-called experts criticized the Raiders for taking Huff instead of a quarterback, with Southern Cal's Matt Leinart and Vanderbilt's Jay Cutler still available.

After all, the Raiders lack a marquee quarterback, and safeties usually don't go in the top 10. Huff is only the third safety drafted with a top-10 selection since 1991 -- the Dallas Cowboys took Roy Williams at No. 8 in 2002 and the Washington Redskins snared Sean Taylor at No. 5 in 2004.

Yet, the decision to pick Huff was made by Raiders managing general partner Al Davis three weeks or so before the draft, according to a person in the front office.

Huff clocked a blazing 4.34-second 40-yard dash at the scouting combine in Indianapolis in February. Davis craves speed. The Raiders needed a replacement for departed veteran defensive back Charles Woodson.

Huff grew up imitating Michael Jackson in song and dance. To this day, he still owns every Jackson album and video, his mother says. Yet, when it comes to football, Huff patterns himself after Woodson.

He called Woodson soon after getting drafted to ask permission if he could wear the No. 24 jersey Woodson donned from 1998-2005. Woodson consented. He also made himself available to Huff if he ever needs advice.

Fortunately for the Raiders, Huff differs from Woodson in many ways. Woodson disdained practicing, watching videotape of games and lifting weights. Not Huff.

"He had a work ethic about him and he really worked on mentally seeing the game," Akina said. "He came in with great track times, had great physical size, but he wasn't a polished physical player. He was smart enough to look at it on tape and understand it. ... If he doesn't get it the first time, he's going to work harder at it. You're going to know he's giving you his best shot."

The Raiders already are seeing many of the things that Akina and the other Texas coaches did for four years. It's enough to make fans salivate over the prospect of the Raiders finding a stud safety for the first time since Rod Woodson retired in 2003.

"He'll come in and help us right away with his ability to play the position of safety who also has the ability to be a coverage guy for us," Raiders coach Art Shell said.

Is there anything he can't do?
Shell is Raiders' Pied Piper
New head coach convinces players to do things his way

By Bill Soliday, STAFF WRITER

ALAMEDA — When he speaks, they listen.
Art Shell stands tall on the practice field with his own football team, one for whom he can speak because he knows the Oakland Raiders so well. And they know him, which is why he is here.

He's been there. He knows. What he has to say has meaning in the history books.

"They know exactly where I'm coming from, and they know where we want to be," Shell explains.

That place would be in the champions' seat.

"There's nothing wrong with talking about it," Shell said. "I'm not going to soft sell the championship. Every team in the National Football League wants to play in the Super Bowl. So, hey, why not us?"

It is Shell's second minicamp, and if there was any doubt before, his team is getting the picture. Play tough, play disciplined, play proud. Play like their coach did.

"Players seem to be taking to Shell's direction. Young players, certainly, but older veterans and those in between, too.

"Tell you what," defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "You'd have to be a dead man to not know who Art Shell is."

Center Jake Grove added: "He's done this. He knows whathe's talking about. He's got that credibility. He's a presence out there on the field, and he's someone you're going to listen to and respect."

Center Adam Treu has been an active Raider longer than any other, 10 years, and he sees a difference.

"There's an emphasis on individual accountability," he said. "If something is done wrong on the field, we repeat and correct it."

It is an approach Shell grew accustomed to playing for John Madden. Madden's practices were famous for repeating drills until players got it right. A two-hour practice frequently went into triple overtime.

Those were the Raiders' salad years, and even though modern players might never have seen their new coach play in person, they know the legends.

"They know I have three Super Bowl rings," Shell said. "I played in two and coached in one, so I understand what it takes to win and what we have to do in order to get there. So we have their attention ... and they want to win. They're tired of losing."

Guard Barry Sims agrees.

"It feels good, like we're on the right path," he said. "Everybody's doing the right thing. Everybody's held accountable for our actions and what we do. That's the only way you'll be successful is to be held accountable, and this coaching staff is different than the last couple. The last few years

it seemed a little too loose, like we didn't really have the leadership we have now."

"It takes me back to my first couple of years with (Jon) Gruden. It's a lot like that. Everybody is in charge of what they're supposed to be doing. If they don't do it, then put someone else in there to do it."

Tackle Robert Gallery said: "I think the attitude is changing because he's demanding it. We'll see when we put the pads on, but I think it's moving in the right direction, that's for sure."

Sapp also likes what he sees.

"It (the response) has been real good. The thing about it is, everybody is closing ranks and getting in line and following one leader in one direction.

"That is one thing that kind of went awry a year ago. We had groups of guys here and groups of guys there, but now everybody has closed ranks. Let's get in line and march like soldiers. If you're leading in the right direction, people will follow.

"That's the only way you are going to win anything in this league. It's about one goal, one purpose, one direction, and that's where we are right now. And if we are all rowing the same way, the boat is going to move."

Although Shell's public persona is not that of a screamer, Sapp just laughs when a reporter suggests he comes across as soft spoken.

"He can get a little fiery at times," he said. "He is a great dude. His reputation precedes him. We haven't won many games around here, and if you haven't won many games around here, you might want to follow the lead of the guy who has won games, who has been there and done that."

Meanwhile, Shell seems to be enjoying himself.

"Smell the grass," he said after an afternoon workout, enjoying the atmosphere so much that he repeats that three-word sentence three times. "Being around the players, the practice ... there's nothing like it.

"We're all working for the same thing and just to be out here watching them work, to see kids do something. You preach it over and over again, 'do it this way,' and all of a sudden he does it right.

"That's a great feeling ... a great feeling."
New sheriff for Raiders

By Steve Corkran

ALAMEDA - Things are going to be different around here, the new coach says. How many times have you heard that whenever a change of leadership takes place?

Art Shell said as much upon his replacing Norv Turner as Raiders coach Feb. 12. Any doubts as to the veracity of Shell's comments were erased in face-to-face meetings with the players soon after his hiring.

In one such meeting, veteran wide receiver Jerry Porter tested the waters and soon learned that this no longer is Turner's team. A get-to-know-you meeting turned into a war of words and ended with Shell booting Porter from his office. But not before letting Porter know who is in charge.

"Attitudes and things like that will have to be changed somewhat ... ," Shell said. "I have to set the tone. I expect to set the tone."

He continued that process Friday during the first practice of the team's three-day minicamp that concludes Sunday.

"The (team's) attitude has changed because he's demanding it," offensive tackle Robert Gallery said. "This place is moving in the right direction."

Shell inherits a team that has won only 13 games the past three seasons. Those three losing seasons are one more than Shell experienced as a player from 1968-82 and as a coach in his five full seasons -- he replaced Mike Shanahan five games into the 1989 season.

"I know how to win," Shell said. "I know how to lead. I expect that we will have the kind of success that this organization deserves."

Veteran offensive lineman Barry Sims said he already notices a stark contrast to the way Shell runs the team compared with the way things operated under Turner the past two seasons and Bill Callahan in 2002 and '03.

The players know what is expected of them, Sims said. Everybody knows his role. What Shell says, he means. Defensive tackle Warren Sapp said last year's team was a fractured bunch.

"The last few years, it seemed a little too loose, like we didn't really have the leadership that we have now ... ," Sims said. "It feels like we're on the right path, everybody's doing the right thing.

"Everybody's held accountable for our actions and what we do. The only way you'll be successful is to have that accountability."

You get the feeling that a player won't take to the airwaves to vent his frustration over Shell's coaching style, the way cornerback Charles Woodson did toward Callahan in 2003. Or that wide receiver Randy Moss won't be bolting the locker room just as Shell is entering to deliver his postgame speech, as Moss did after Turner's final game last season.

Such is the benefit of being a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, playing on two Super Bowl-winning teams and guiding a team to the playoffs three times as coach. It doesn't hurt that Shell commands respect by standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 250 pounds or so.

That intimidating presence is something Shell wants opposing teams to feel from his players.

"I expect to be a tough football team," Shell said. "When you walk out there, when you walk into that stadium, you walk out there with a presence. Mr. Davis (Al, managing general partner) called it a swagger. Yeah, a swagger.

"You walk out there with a presence. And I just want to get back to the point where when we walk into a stadium, they know the Raiders are in town. And when we walk into the Coliseum, the Raiders are here."
Curry is lone inactive from group of injured players

Raiders notebook

ALAMEDA -- Raiders wide receiver Ronald Curry has spent most of his athletic career standing out from his teammates through his jaw-dropping playmaking. On Friday, he stood out because he was standing around.

Curry was the only inactive player among a group of Raiders who missed all or part of last season because of serious injuries. He still is rehabilitating the left Achilles tendon that he ruptured against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 18.

Defensive tackle Warren Sapp (rotator cuff), linebacker Sam Williams (knee), strong safety Derrick Gibson (wrist), running back LaMont Jordan (toe), offensive lineman Langston Walker (abdomen) and quarterback Andrew Walter (groin) practiced and showed no lingering effects from injuries that required surgery.

Walker has been moved from left guard to right offensive tackle as part of coach Art Shell's makeover of the offensive line. The move comes less than seven months after Walker needed surgery to stop abdominal bleeding, rendering him unsure he would be able to play again.

"Thank God, it's not a career-ender," Walker said as he knocked on a wooden bench in front of his locker stall. "I went through the surgery, went through the rehab, rehab went good, did what I had to do. I'm out here feeling fine."

Walter declared himself fit and ready to go only four months or so after surgery to repair a groin injury he sustained during training camp last year. That injury came on the heels of a shoulder injury near the end of his college career.

"The shoulder feels great, my groin feels just as good, so I'm about as pieced together as I have been in a while," Walter said.

Play of the day
Veteran wide receiver Randy Moss served notice on first-round draft pick Michael Huff early on during Friday's morning practice by blowing past the rookie safety on a deep route and turning the play into a long touchdown.

"My first experience against Randy Moss, and he scored on me," Huff said afterward, "but that's kind of part of the territory, so I've got to go out there and get better every day."

Moss did not speak with the local media, as has been his custom since Oakland's regular-season opener last year.

There's only one 2

Cornerback Charles Woodson made No. 2 a familiar sight during his eight seasons with the Raiders. He wore that number during practices in keeping with the jersey number he wore during his stellar collegiate career at Michigan.

With Woodson having signed a free-agent contract with the Green Bay Packers last month, the player donning the No. 2 jersey is new quarterback Aaron Brooks. He asked for the number because it's the same number he wore for the New Orleans Saints.

-- Steve Corkran
Hair may need cutting, but rookie's a keeper

By Steve Corkran
Knight Ridder

Two days ago, third-round draft pick Paul McQuistan was known as ``the goofy-looking big dude with the red-headed mullet,'' according to one teammate.

Now he is the offensive lineman of whom defenders are most wary after two days of watching McQuistan throw around defensive linemen as if they were blocking dummies.

``Obviously, he has a long ways to go, but he and all the rookies on the line have done a good job,'' veteran offensive lineman Barry Sims said Saturday. ``They seem to be further ahead of the game than the other groups we've had.''

That bodes well for a Raiders team beset by injuries and uneven play from its offensive linemen last season.

McQuistan, 6-foot-6 and 313 pounds, was one of three offensive linemen selected by the Raiders in the NFL draft last month. None is expected to crack the starting lineup this season, though McQuistan is making an early push for consideration at right guard.

``He gets better every time you take a snap,'' Raiders Coach Art Shell said. ``He has a chance to be a pretty good football player. That's why we took him in the third round.''

Sims has been moved from left tackle to left guard. Langston Walker is at right tackle after spending last season at left guard. Robert Gallery has moved from right tackle to left tackle. Jake Grove remains at center, with Brad Badger seeking to replace departed veteran Ron Stone at right guard.

McQuistan, 23, said he has modest expectations his first season.

``Make the squad, the 53 (-man roster), learn the plays, be willing to do what is needed for the success of the team,'' McQuistan said in his matter-of-fact style.

However, don't be fooled by his calmness off the field. He has a mean streak and an edge to him on the field that manifests itself in his throwing down defenders and hounding them until the play is over.

``I have always tried to play with that edge, just to make it fun,'' McQuistan said. ``That's the way I enjoy playing it.''

Reigning NFL sack king Derrick Burgess said he's well aware of McQuistan, both because of McQuistan's distinct hairstyle and his blocking prowess.

``Oh, the mullet?'' Burgess said. ``I've seen him. He looks like one of those tough guys. It looks like he has pretty good feet, though.''

• Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha sustained a twisted knee in the morning practice and missed the rest of the full-squad drills. He went into the locker room for treatment.

• The Raiders conclude their mini-camp with one practice today.
Setting the Tone

May 7, 2006

The Oakland Raiders mandatory three-day mini-camp concludes this morning with a final practice session at the team's Alameda, Calif., facility. The team has spent the past two days putting what they've learned this off-season to the test on the gridiron. While learning new plays and working on fundamentals, they have also been getting to know their new teammates and coaches.

According to many players, Raiders Head Coach Art Shell has set the tone throughout the mini-camp as he leads the full squad for the first time in 2006.

"I think the one thing you get from him is that that's what he's about, he's about a championship," DT Warren Sapp said. "When everybody's about a championship everybody marches the same way, everybody goes to the same beat. When you have that, you have a chance to go out and win."

"All players want to know what is expected of them, where are we going," Coach Shell said. "Our expectations are very high. They have responded. They know exactly where I'm coming from. I am not going to soft sell a Championship. Every team in the National Football League wants to play in the Super Bowl, why not us? We can play in the Super Bowl. It has to be done on the field, not through verbiage. These guys understand that."

The Raiders acquired free agent QB Aaron Brooks in March. Brooks, who spent the bulk of his career with the New Orleans Saints, has spent the past two months learning the playbook and has been acclimating himself to his new environment.

"I'm loving the fresh start, I think it was very necessary particularly, coming to a place like this, a great tradition, to have a coach with a lot of experience, particularly a Hall of Famer and a lot of Hall of Fame coaches around him, so what better situation to be in, than this one right here?" Brooks said. "I'm very excited to be here, I'm very excited to be working with [Head Coach] Art Shell, and having the opportunity to be able to throw the ball to arguably the best receiver in the game today, and the guys around him that are so good. I wouldn't trade it for the world, I'm just very happy to be a Raider right now."

"We're going to come after you. I believe in power, I believe in being tough, tough up front, we're going to do that on both sides of the ball," Coach Shell articulated. "I want that defense flying around getting after people. That's the only way to play the game. I want our offensive line coming off the ball and knocking people on their behinds."

Quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo is entering his sixth season with the Raiders and is genuinely excited about what he has seen so far. "We want to get back to being a physical team that's going to come out and hit you in the mouth, compete and make plays," Tuiasosopo said. "I think definitely our attitude out here is let's be a physical team, let's bring it back to the Raider style that everybody knows about."

Coach Shell, the coaching staff and the 2006 Oakland Raiders will continue working toward their goals through the off-season work-out program, Organized Team Activities and a June mini-camp, with training camp set to open in late July.
The photos now include ten from the afternoon....same link.
I like the word on McQuistan. Sounds like a Wiz sort of dude. Good sign. We need a nasty mofo or three.
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