Raiders

Raiders Notebook: Healthy Strides in Alameda

Raiders Notebook: Healthy Strides in Alameda

Nov. 19, 2010
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Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com

ALAMEDA -- There was a familiar jersey No. 81 running routes and catching passes at the start of the Raiders' light practice Friday morning.Chaz Schilens' addition, along with the inclusion of fellow walking wounded Raiders Nnamdi Asomugha, Zach Miller and John Henderson, marked the first time this season Oakland had everyone on the 53-man roster on the practice field at the same time.Still, Schilens' presence was more to gauge his progress from knee surgery in training camp. He has not played since the season began, let alone practiced, and will be inactive for Sunday's game at Pittsburgh."It was both positive and negative," coach Tom Cable said of Schilens' work.Tight end Miller (foot) said he would play while Cable said cornerback Asomugha (ankle) and defensive tackle Henderson (foot) would be gametime decisions. Receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey (hamstring) was also limited."We're fortunate," Cable said. "We've had a good deal of taking care of our bodies the right way, and that's the players' responsibility, and we've avoided those big issues. So, good for us."Officially, all except for Schilens are listed as "questionable" for the game, giving Cable and his staff more need for pause when figuring out the active 45 come Sunday."It's a good problem to have," he said.Henderson has not played since the home opener against St. Louis on Sept. 19 while Asomugha and Miller both missed the pre-bye overtime victory against Kansas City on Nov. 7."I feel good," Miller said after practice. "I got a chance to run a lot of routes today, catching the ball. Jason (Campbell) was throwing it to me. It feels good. It feels good to be healthy again."Miller initially tweaked what was described as an arch strain in his right foot at Denver on Oct. 24. He played through it but came off the field for several plays against Seattle a week later."Yeah, I was definitely worried about it," he said. "The timing of the bye week was great because it allowed me to get a ton of treatment and really help me recover."
Pittsburgh awaits.
"It's going to be fun," he said. "You know, this is what you get to play in when you're winning. You get to play in important games. Everyone's excited to get over there and take care of business."

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

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USATSI

Irvin, Mack given a day off from Raiders practice

ALAMEDA – Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin were out at Raiders practice Wednesday for the stretching period. Both edge rushers left one-at-a-time during the individual period, which was open to the press, headed into the main building and did not return.

There was no perceived reaction, certainly no surprise, from the coaching staff or players on the field. Irvin and new defensive coordinator John Pagano were seen joking around on the field before practice began in earnest. 

Both Irvin and Mack were given a practice off. A Raiders official called it a day off/rest-type day that was not injury related. The Silver and Black typically practice in pads or shells on Wednesday, but were in jerseys and sweats in the interest of recovery.

This day off's timing did raise an eyebrow.

Wednesday marked the first practice Irvin has missed since training camp. Mack hasn’t missed one in months.

Mack and Irvin’s downtime also came a day after beloved defensive coordinator Ken Norton’s firing.

Several defensive players were upset about Norton's firing, but Mack and Irvin especially were among those loyal to Norton. Mack and Norton developed a bond after the coach was named defensive coordinator in 2015. Norton and Irvin go way back to their days together in Seattle. Irvin credits Norton for helping him get on the right path and stay there.

Neither player was happy Norton got the axe. Irvin made his displeasure clear, tweeting “BULLS***” shortly after news of Norton’s demise broke. Mack told ESPN “I like to keep my thoughts private.” Defensive stars declined comment Wednesday or didn't appear in the locker room when the media was present. 

It isn’t immediately clear if the non-injury related day off was related to Norton’s dismissal. Head coach Jack Del Rio won’t speak to the media again until Friday. New defensive coordinator John Pagano is scheduled to speak Thursday afternoon.

Del Rio addressed the media before Wednesday’s practice, and was asked how he’ll handle players unhappy with the in-season shake-up.

“I don’t try and 'handle' them,” Del Rio said. “I think the biggest thing is to understand the relationship, respect that, give him a little space and then at the end of the day, we’re going to get on with our work. But, I’m human. It wasn’t easy for me either.”

Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing

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USATSI

Del Rio: 'Nobody should feel comfortable,' following Norton firing

ALAMEDA – Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio put out a statement Tuesday explaining why he fired defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr.

He went into greater detail Wednesday afternoon, his first time facing the media since a change was made

Specifics will be discussed further down this story. We don’t, however, want to bury the lede.

Del Rio’s main message wasn’t about Norton. It applied to all in Silver and Black. This season has not met lofty expectations. That is unacceptable.

“I know one thing,” Del Rio said. “Nobody should feel comfortable, because what I’ve been watching is not good enough.”

Del Rio didn’t absolve himself from blame. Norton got fired, but everyone has played a part in this disappointing 4-6 record.

“It’s always shared,” Del Rio said. “A change was made, obviously. We all share in it, all of us, starting with me. It’s coaches and players. It’s a team game, and we’re all in it together. And nobody is coming to help us.”

The Raiders must look inward to start a prolonged winning streak they’ve shown little evidence they can create.

The seat will be warm under players and coaches alike, even if only one change was made. Expect further shakeup on the coaching staff after the season, if vast improvements don’t come down the stretch, possibly with several position coaches being shown the door. More than a few higher profile players could be cut or allowed to leave, especially on defense.

While Del Rio has taken more heat the past month than at any other time in his Raiders tenure, expect him to be around a longer term. He was given a contract extension in February, and has significant capitol built after changing the culture in Oakland and re-teaching this team how to win. One bad year, even if this season continues heading downhill, shouldn’t erase that.

Del Rio was looking to shake things up, and Norton was the obvious move. Experienced play caller John Pagano was on staff – he was Chargers defensive coordinator from 2012-2016 – and firing the popular Pagano’s style could create some new waves and looks that any offensive Norton would make an impact in the locker room and prove this story’s opening quote, that no one should feel comfortable.

Del Rio hopes firing Norton will be a shock to the defense’s system.

“I really felt like I needed to shake things up,” Del Rio said. “We couldn’t continue doing what we’ve been doing to this point. So I made the call. The whole idea is to change what we’re doing and make sure…what I’m looking for at the end of the day is for us to play fast on defense. We weren’t playing fast enough. We weren’t playing confident enough.”