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News » Oakland Raiders Notes, Quotes 2008-08-28

Oakland Raiders Notes, Quotes 2008-08-28

Oakland Raiders Notes, Quotes 2008-08-28
--The Raiders have been putting Michael Bush on the field occasionally with Justin Fargas and Darren McFadden, a wrinkle which had Bush apparently believing he had been moved to fullback after the loss of blocker Oren O'Neal.

When asked about playing fullback, Bush, his head down, muttered, "Yeah, well that's all I have to say about that," before picking his chin off his chest and saying he would do whatever was good for the team.

Bush's outlook was brightened when coach Lane Kiffin clarified things the next day.

"Michael Bush is a tailback here," Kiffin said. "We're going to look at s=

ome things in certain personnel to utilize him because he catches the ball so well and he is a bigger tailback. But don't mistake that. We claimed a fullback. We'll look for another fullback to compete with this guy or, depending on how this guy does this week, the final waiver cut.

"Michael Bush isn't here to be a fullback. Michael Bush has a chance to be a spectacular tailback in this league and that's what he's here to play."

--Early in training camp, Jake Grove, when asked about the surgery on his troublesome right knee, smiled and said he'd get into it once he won the starting job.

So when Kiffin made it official, Grove spilled it -- his recovery had been aided by microfracture surgery, often a last-resort option where tiny holes are drilled into points in the knee to promote the growth of new cartilage.

"It has made a big difference for me. I couldn't move right to left. I could go to my right, I just couldn't plant on my left," Grove said. "You can't just tell the coach, 'Nah, let's just run right.' It doesn't work too good. Getting that thing fixed has been the biggest thing for me."

Kiffin conceded he figured John Wade, an 11-year veteran and starting center in Tampa Bay and Jacksonville, would be the starter when he signed on during free agency.

"I wouldn't have guessed Jake would win the job, but his rehab was so good he ended up beating him out," Kiffin said. "Jake is much stronger and quicker. He came out and earned the job. He didn't get it by default."

--The Raiders weren't even two minutes into their third preseason game when they lost two key players for the season in fullback Oren O'Neal and wide receiver Drew Carter.

O'Neal shared the fullback job with Justin Griffith, but was a powerful blocker who was used in short-yardage and often late in games where the Raiders were working the clock.

"That's a big deal right there," Kiffin said. "There were a number of games last year he played more than Justin. He's a guy that when we're running the ball play after play, he brings a physical attitude."

Carter was battling Ronald Curry to be the starting flanker and at worse would have been the Raiders' No. 1 wide receiver. He had signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract but has had three previous ACL tears.

--Javon Walker, the free agent who received an $11 million roster bonus with another $5 million due next March, only to ponder retirement early in camp, had his most promising evening since joining the Raiders with four receptions for 60 yards.

Kiffin said afterward that even players who had big years like Walker did in Green Bay and Denver can suffer a crisis of confident.

Walker said confidence was never an issue.

"I know what type of player I am," Walker said. "When I'm in the zone I feel like I can't be stopped. That's the only thing you can think of to motivate yourself to play. So to get out there and get some opportunities catching the ball going into the regular season feels good. I know what I can do. I know what I bring to the table."

--Jarrod Cooper, the popular special teams captain who has persevered through NFL suspension for both substance abuse and steroid abuse, surprised his teammates by walking up to Kiffin's office and retiring.

Cooper was a heavily-tattooed locker room live wire who was struggling while returning from ACL surgery.

"I thought he was kidding," linebacker Isiah Ekejiuba said. "You know -- it's Coop. But he said his knee was bothering him, and when your body tells you it's time, then it's time."

Said Kiffin: "He played (seven) years in the league, has had three knee surgeries, he's never regained his speed after the last surgery -- that was obvious in the preseason games. Whether we would have released him or not is irrelevant. He just came in and said he wanted to retire."

It wasn't lost on Cooper that rookie Tyvon Branch, a fourth-round pick out of UConn, was taking his reps at safety and excelling as a special teams gunner.

"He looks faster than everybody else out there," Kiffin said. "He looks like he can be a dynamic special teams player for us."

BY THE NUMBERS: 24 -- The amount of rushing touchdowns allowed by the Raiders defense last season. It was the most in the NFL since 2000, when the Arizona Cardinals surrendered 29 rushing touchdowns and the Cleveland Browns gave up 26.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Unless you've been here, you really don't understand it, so he doesn't have any advice for me," -- Kiffin on whether he ever seeks the counsel of his father, Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, about his job of being head coach of the Raiders.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: August 28, 2008

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Sam Williams Name: Sam Williams
Position: LB
Age: 27
Experience: 6 years
College: Fresno State
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