Raiders

Raiders Notebook: McClain sheds his walking boot

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Raiders Notebook: McClain sheds his walking boot

Dec. 9, 2010 RAIDERS NEWS RAIDERS VIDEO Paul Gutierrez
CSNCalifornia.com ALAMEDA - Rookie middle linebacker Rolando McClain sat out his second consecutive day of practice Thursday with a sore left foot, though the foot was out of the walking boot he wore the day before. "I'm good," McClain said, offering no other comment.
Still, McClain also had his left wrist heavily taped. GUTIERREZ: Raiders' east-coast void "We feel fine about it," said coach Tom Cable on the chances McClain will play Sunday at Jacksonville. "Just trying to be smart, take care of the athlete." Asked if McClain's foot was suffering from an injury that would get better with rest, Cable nodded. "It is improving," he said. "It's just a matter of resting it and not keeping it as a negative injury very long." At San Diego, McClain, the No. 8 overall draft pick out of Alabama, had a statement game with a team-high seven tackles, including a knockout blow of Chargers running back Darren Sproles. REWIND: Raiders run over Chargers The Raiders are referring to McClain's foot issue as tendinitis, after first calling it arthritis. The Raiders' secondary seems to be getting healthier as well, as cornerback Chris Johnson (groin) practiced for the second straight day. "I'm working through it," Johnson said. "I should be able to go, though, I've done everything (rehab-wise), so I don't see why not." Johnson was injured in the game at Pittsburgh on Nov. 21. If he's able to play, he should be part of the Raiders' nickel packages. "We're working on that now," Cable said. "He seems to be fine and, as long as we get through tomorrow, I think we can get back to where we were." Rookie offensive guard Bruce Campbell was inactive last week for the first time this season. "Only because of numbers, you know, just in terms of guys coming back healthy and all that," Cable said.
Then how is Campbell's progress going?
"Well," Cable said. "He needs a terrific offseason, but I think he's going to be a dynamite player in the NFL. I really like him, and the more I'm around him, and the more I get to work with him, he can learn, he gets it, and once he has it, it's in there and it's locked down, and I like it. "His future is very bright." Cable said Campbell, a left tackle in college at Maryland who blew scouts away with his measurables at the Combine, would stay on the interior at guard for the near future. "I mean, we know he can play tackle, but when you watch that kid run and how powerful he is inside, sometimes anchoring down, he would give you some real stability inside there," Cable said. "So, we'll see what the future holds, but I like where he's going." Cable was the Raiders' offensive line coach when Robert Gallery was flipped from a failed left tackle to a standout left guard. The thinking? "I always kind of look at it like, if you have a small parking place and you're going to try and put a big Cadillac in it and sometimes it doesn't quite fit, you know?" Cable said. "And when guys don't quite fit in there, for whatever reason, they're not comfortable in space outside or they don't handle the length of it, meaning they're long but they don't play long, there's no business putting them out there because they're going to get tore up. "So when you get big powerful guys like that at guard, I think it really stabilizes your line. You talk about knocking guys off the ball and keeping the pocket in front of your quarterback, it allows you to do that. I'm not saying he can't go out and play tackle; I think there's a chance (Campbell) could. But I think his transition from college to NFL, this was definitely the right thing to do because his progress every week, you kind of walk off the field on Friday saying, 'That guy's getting a little bit better each week.'" The Raiders injury report: Limited practice: WR Nick Miller (ankle), WR Chaz Schilens (knee), TE Zach Miller (leg), DT John Henderson (foot), CB Nnamdi Asomugha (ankle), SS Tyvon Branch (shoulder), CB Chris Johnson (groin). Did not practice: MLB Rolando McClain (foot), DE Jarvis Moss (hand), S Hiram Eugene (ribs). The recently-acquired Moss has fractured his right hand, though Cable thought he could play Sunday.

Melifonwu back at Raiders practice, designated to return off IR

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AP

Melifonwu back at Raiders practice, designated to return off IR

ALAMEDA – Obi Melifonwu participated in a Raiders practice Tuesday afternoon, his first session in months.

The second-round safety has been on injured reserve all season and hasn’t done football activities of any kind since suffering a knee injury in a preseason game in Dallas.

He had arthroscopic knee surgery and was put on the shelf for the season’s first half. Melifonwu's professional career barely started and then quickly stopped. That's why Wednesday's practice was such a big deal. 

“It was awesome to get back out there, finally,” Melfonwu said. “It’s been a while. It was beyond fun to just be out there and practice with the team."

He nearing a return to game action. That’s why the Raiders designated him to return off injured reserve. Wednesday marks the start of a three-week practice window where the Raiders can decide whether to put him on the 53-roster.

He’s expected to do so when eligible. Melifonwu was first able to practice this week, and can join the 53-man roster after Week 8. His NFL debut could come in Week 9 at Miami.

He can't wait, especially because he's physically ready now. 

"I feel 100 percent," Meilfonwu said. I feel fine."

The Raiders still struggle covering the aforementioned skill players, using young linebackers or an undersized safety against those guys. The Raiders have given up the most yards to tight ends and running backs in the NFL this season. Melifonwu was drafted to help cover tight ends and running backs right away in sub packages, with a long-term eye on a full-time starting spot.

"I bring versatility, and I think I’m a guy who can fit into a lot of different spots," Melifonwu said. "Wherever the coaches need me to fit and help the team win, I’m all for it."

He has missed significant development time while out. He also missed most of training camp with an apparent ankle injury. The team hopes he can be ready to contribute when eligible despite missing so much time. The downtime was difficult, but Melifonwu now hopes to hit the ground running.

"It was definitely tough," he said. "As a competitor, you always want to be out there helping your team win. As a guy who hasn’t been hurt, it was pretty tough. It comes with playing football. I’m just glad to be out there now."

Bowman out to prove something with Raiders: 'I have a lot of juice left'

Bowman out to prove something with Raiders: 'I have a lot of juice left'

NaVorro Bowman hasn’t been a Raider long. The inside linebacker visited the team’s training complex Monday morning, signed a one-year, $3 million contract that afternoon and was on the practice field a few hours later.

Bowman’s in something of a rush. His new team plays the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night. Bowman plans to face them.

That’ll take a crash course in Raiders defense. There’s new terminology to learn and roles to master, even if he hones on a specific package.

It won’t be easy. Even a perfect week might come up short with but one real practice in an incredibly quick turnaround.

It’s rational to think he won’t be ready, fair to give him two weeks practice before a Raiders debut.

That’s not the tack he’ll take.

“Hey,” Bowman said, with a wry smile. “I’m going to show you something.”

He understands the situation. The Raiders are 2-4, in desperate need of an AFC West win. A loss might put the Raiders too far down to rebound. The four-time All-Pro knows he’s needed, and believes he can help if he can get some scheme down.

“It’ll take a lot of hours, a lot of studying, a lot of repeating the same words and things like that,” Bowman said after Monday’s walk-through. “It’s part of being a good football player. You have to put the time in. It doesn’t come easy.

“I’m the guy to do it. I won’t let them down. I’ll put the work in that’s needed to be done.”

Immersing in brand new can be a cleansing process. Bowman left the only NFL team he’s ever known Friday when the 49ers cut him loose. He wanted to spend his career with one team. After seven-plus seasons, a switch was required. He didn’t like losing snaps. The 49ers wanted to go younger at the position. A trade was attempted. He didn’t like the suitor, and the 49ers respectfully pulled back. An outright cut was the decisive action.

It gave Bowman an opportunity to choose his next step. He didn’t go far. Bowman’s new job sits 35 miles north in Alameda, which offered plenty of advantages for a family man.

“My twin girls are five and my son is eight and they’re in school,” Bowman said. “They’re doing really well so you always want to keep that going as a parent. You don’t want to keep switching them in and out. That played a big part in what I was going to do. For the Raiders to show as much enthusiasm in wanting me to come here made my decision a lot easier.”

Enthusiasm was evident in two ways. The bottom line comes first. The Raiders offered $3 million to make this deal quick, adding a solid sum to the $6.75 million base salary guaranteed by the 49ers under his previous contract.

The second was clear in a Monday morning conversation with Jack Del Rio. The Raiders head coach spoke plainly, saying Bowman could make a major impact as a player and veteran leader of a shockingly young position group.

“It was really upfront, letting me know their position and how bad they want me,” Bowman said. “He let me know exactly what he wanted to get out of me coming here and being a presence for this defense. Being more vocal, getting guys to understand the urgency to be really good at the NFL level.”

His lessons start Tuesday morning. Starting weakside linebacker Cory James introduced himself in the locker room Monday and asked Bowman when he’ll start watching film. The answer: bright and early.

Bowman has a game to play Thursday. That’s possible because he didn’t have to relocate. He can just hit the ground running. He’s been constantly learning new systems during the 49ers coaching carousel, so he’d a quick learning. He also sees similar concepts between schemes.

“It’s not too different,” Bowman said. “The terminology is really the hard part. I’m a fast learner. I went out there today and I think I did pretty well. I’ll get in here early tomorrow and learn from my mistakes and try to keep getting better.”

That’s Bowman’s first goal. He also wants to show knee and Achilles’ tendon injuries haven’t sapped his effectiveness as many believe.

“I’m only 29 years old,” Bowman said. “I still have a lot of juice left in me.”