Tom Cable

Raiders rookie Kolton Miller off to solid start with plenty of room to grow

Raiders rookie Kolton Miller off to solid start with plenty of room to grow

MIAMI -- Kolton Miller has played every Raiders offensive snap through two games, compiling stats suggesting the rookie left tackle’s season is off to a solid start.

This year’s No. 15 overall pick has allowed just three quarterback hurries -- he’s one of seven left tackles to allow no sacks, no QB hits this season -- in 83 pass-blocking snaps against the Rams and Broncos. The Raiders have not run great off the left tackle, with 13 yards in the too-small-a-sample-size four attempts. Running backs are averaging 4.0 yards on carries between Miller and mauler left guard Kelechi Osemele.

Numbers will tell part of this story. Tom Cable sees the whole matrix.

The Raiders offensive line coach believes Miller can be an excellent left tackle, but he fully understands his star pupil has a long, long way to go.

“If you’re looking at the whole spectrum of it, I would say he’s doing C-plus work right now and continuing to climb,” Cable told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. “That’s where you want him. You don’t want him failing, and at the same time I don’t think there will be rookies out there doing better than him. That’s a good thing, but he has a long way to go to become a complete player.

“That’s just part of being young, more than anything. He is on course. He’s invested in this process. I like his preparation and how he gets ready for each test. He presses into it, which is really important.”

Cable has pressed new mechanics upon the 6-foot-8, 309-pound UCLA product, helping a supreme athlete become a technician in time. He has Miller going more vertical in his pass-blocking sets, to help him control matchups with defensive linemen and use his size appropriately. There’s a major emphasis in cleaning up his run blocking.

And, in an effort that will take some time, Cable believes Miller can gain functional strength and lean bulk to his frame working with the Raiders' strength staff.

“[Cable] has worked to adjust things here and there to help refine my technique and make me a better player,” Miller said. “It has been great working with him.”

Miller has the size and athleticism and savvy to be a productive player. Cable believes two other attributes are vital to his professional success: coach-ability and commitment.

“He’s the strong, silent type in terms of personality and is hungry to be the best version of himself,” Cable said. “He’s in search of that. He checks all the boxes for us. He wants to learn and fix mistakes, and the cool thing is that he’ll then come out on the field and work hard at it.”

Cable and the Raiders took a deep dive into Miller’s background, and felt confident in making him a first-round pick.

“If you’re going to take a guy early in the draft like that, you need to understand his level of humility,” Cable said. ‘There are times when guys get picked early and get paid a little bit, they think they’re made it. You want to find out of he can stay even-keeled, not put too much into the whistles and bell and put everything into being worthy of that pick. That’s important to me. That’s always important because, once the ‘disease of me’ hits people, they’re screwed up. Then they become less of a teammate.

“We learned that about him, that he’s humble and coachable, and cares about his craft. That’s a major plus that allows him to grow and develop.

The biggest fear in starting a rookie at left tackle, especially after two-time Pro Bowl pick Donald Penn moved to the right to make room for Miller, is the big mistake that gets quarterback Derek Carr in trouble. We haven’t seen anything like that off Miller’s edge.

Miller has fared well against the vaunted Rams and Broncos defensive fronts, and gained confidence from those efforts. He believes he already can compete with anyone, knowing full well there’s room for improvement. He’s honed on technique, not emotion or trash talk or who he’s lined up against. Miller is as even-keeled as they come.

“The goal is to be consistently good from week to week,” Miller said. “That’s how players become good and establish themselves in this league.”

Cable believes maintaining this current course could lead to good things.

“Potential is a dangerous word. That said, he’s potentially one of the really special young players in the game,” Cable said. “It will be up to all of us to keep him on the track of growth and development. If he ever makes it about money and outside stuff, it’ll detract him. Knowing him, I think he wants to find out how good he can be. As long as he keeps that mindset, he can be something great.”

Tom Cable happy to be back with Raiders, 'this is where I belong’

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AP

Tom Cable happy to be back with Raiders, 'this is where I belong’

ALAMEDA – Tom Cable had options choosing his next coaching job after leaving the Seattle Seahawks. The respected offensive line coach wasn’t initially sure if the Raiders were the right fit.

After all, he and the franchise had a history.

The former Raiders head coach, and position coach before that, was fired and then shredded by late owner Al Davis in an hour-long press conference held to announce Cable’s successor.

Honestly, it was a mess.

Cable took Jon Gruden’s call anyway, and agreed to meet him in Alameda. Skepticism remained, however until he formally landed at Oakland International Airport.

“Once I got off the plane, it was like being at home,” Cable said Thursday. “I really think from the car ride over from the airport to here, it was great peace. Then when I went through the gate, it was like this is where I belong.”

Cable didn’t know Gruden well before this winter’s meeting, but bonded quickly over a shared old-school football mentality, shared experience of being a head coach under Al Davis and dueling impressions of the late Raiders owner.

Davis traded Gruden to Tampa Bay in early 2002 for a king’s ransom. Davis fired Cable after two-plus seasons, the last of which was an 8-8 campaign in 2010 and the Raiders first non-losing season since the year Gruden left.

“When I left here, I left here and I didn’t want to. That’s just the truth,” Cable said. “I put that team back and got it up off the mat. Dusted itself off, got to .500 and then we’re going to change. It was like unfinished business. It was really kind of natural and a comfortable decision to be back and wear these colors again.”

Cable could’ve held a grudge. Davis fined him $120,000 to cover potential legal costs, then publicly explained why while new head coach Hue Jackson and family sat in awkward silence.

Davis brought up a 2009 incident in Napa, where Cable allegedly punched then lower-level assistant Randy Hanson and broke his jaw. Davis unearthed allegations of physical abuse by multiple women first reported by ESPN, including a lawsuit brought by an ex-girlfriend who named the Raiders as a co-defendant. Davis also brought up Cable violating team rules by bringing his girlfriend with him on the road.

The lawsuit was settled, and no charges were filed in aforementioned legal incidents. Cable was not punished by the NFL.

Cable, a Modesto native and longtime Raiders fan, didn’t let a relationship strained impact how he thinks of Al Davis and the Silver and Black.

“All the great things that Al Davis had done; to me, those are valuable,” Cable said. “Did we always get along? No. There are not a lot of people that probably got along with him all the time. My respect for him is unblemished. I think that’s where people would say, ‘Why aren’t you bitter?’ Well, because you see for me it’s different. He’s a teacher to me. He’s a mentor to me. Whether I get along with him or not, wasn’t the issue. I took so much from him.”

Al Davis orchestrated several eras of Raiders greatness. Cable believes Gruden can drive the next one. Cable wanted to get there as Raiders head coach, and that dream hasn’t died.

“I think for guys like he and I, at least as I get to know him, it’s more personal. You know?” Cable said. “This has been my team since I was a little boy, so it’s not like it changed because I got run out of town. It probably just made it a little bit deeper for me, which is cool. That’s why I’m here.”

Cable is here to get a hulking, expensive offensive line playing to vast potential. He is here to help Marshawn Lynch run strong and resurrect Doug Martin’s career.

Cable’s a tough guy, a good teacher and more diverse than he reputation as a zone-schemer suggests.

“With Cable it’s definitely one of those things where it’s a challenge and a strain, mentally,” left guard Kelechi Osemele said. “He kind of wants to ‘dick with you,’ as he would say. Like kind of mess with you a little bit. Kind of see if he can catch you with some trick questions and stuff like that. Make sure that you’re actually studying. … It’s just tough coaching with Cable, so that’s been good.”

Returning to the East Bay as been a positive experience thus far, working with old friend Marshawn Lynch, an established interior line and rookie tackles Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker.

Getting the offensive line right will be key to Cable’s ultimate goal of helping the Raiders sustain success. His unceremonious exit from the Raiders early this decade won’t change that.

“To have the opportunity to come back and help make this right, like the vision I had earlier was and to help Jon see this though the right way, that’s pretty powerful to me,” Cable said. “I don’t really think there’s any place for bitterness. I think this is a chance to really go back and say, ‘This is where I belong, this is where I’m supposed to be.’ And I look forward to it.”

Raiders announce Cable's return, hire 13 assistant coaches

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AP

Raiders announce Cable's return, hire 13 assistant coaches

Jon Gruden put some respected assistants on “red alert,” for a time when he would return to coaching. Count Paul Guenther, Greg Olson and Rich Bisaccia among those he wanted as top lieutenants.

They became defensive, offensive and special teams coordinator, respectively, formally announced last week during Gruden’s introductory press conference.

Those guys went to work hiring a full staff. They interview several during a busy week, and formally announced 13 hires on Thursday morning.

Most names had been reported previously, with former Raiders head coach Tom Cable as the marquee name returning to lead the offensive line.

Defensive line coach Mike Trgovac was a new name and a good get. He spent the last nine years coaching the position in Green Bay, and was Carolina defensive coordinator from 2003-08. He has worked with Gruden before, with Philadelphia from 1995-97.

Trgovac has been particularly effective in Green Bay. Since he started running that defensive line, the Packers fourth in sacks and fifth in rushing touchdowns allowed.

Trgovac, senior defensive assisstance Jim O'Neill and receivers coach Edgar Bennett have experience as a coordinator. O'Neill was 49ers and Cleveland Brown defensive coordinator. Bennett was Packers offensive coordinator the pass three seasons, though he did not call plays.

The Raiders snagged Derrick Ansley from the University of Alabama to coach defensive backs, and Guenther brought David Lippincott from Cincinnati to coach linebackers.

The Raiders hired former NFL scout Dave Razzano has director of football research, and he’ll compile statistical analysis from game film on the Raiders and their opponenets.

The Raiders retained Travis Smith (quality control – defense) and Nick Holz (quality control – offense), who have survived two regime changes.

Here’s a complete list of 13 assistant coach hires announced by the team. A quarterback coach is not among them. Olson said Wednesday the Raiders are still contemplating whether to hire one. That position isn’t vital, considering how involved Olson and Gruden will be with signal callers and Derek Carr in particular.

Coach                              Title

Ansley, Derrick                       Defensive Backs

Bennett, Edgar                        Wide Receivers

Berbenich, Tim                        Quality Control – Offense

Cable, Tom                              Offensive Line

Holz, Nick                               Quality Control – Offense

Lippincott, David                    Linebackers

O’Neil, Jim                              Senior Defensive Assistant

Razzano, Dave                        Director of Football Research

Singleton, Jemal                      Running Backs

Smith, Frank                           Tight Ends

Smith, Travis                           Quality Control – Defense

Storer, Byron                          Assistant Special Teams

Trgovac, Mike                        Defensive Line

Here’s some background on each coach, provided by Raiders media services: 

Ansley: Joins the Raiders for his first NFL season after spending the past two years coaching defensive backs at the University of Alabama, helping the Crimson Tide win the 2018 BCS National Championship…Served as the cornerbacks coach at the University of Kentucky from 2013-14 before being promoted to the secondary coach in 2015…Spent the 2012 season as the defensive backs coach at the University of Tennessee…Served as a graduate assistant at Alabama from 2010-11 and helped the team win the 2011 BCS National Championship…Began his collegiate coaching career at Huntingdon College working with defensive backs from 2005-09.

Bennett: Enters his first season with the Raiders after spending the past 13 on the Green Bay Packers’ coaching staff…Served three seasons as the team’s offensive coordinator from 2015-17…Spent three seasons (2011-14) as Green Bay’s wide receivers coach…Entered the coaching ranks in 2005 as the Packers’ running backs coach, where he served six seasons from 2005-10…Before becoming a coach, worked four years in the Packers’ front office, serving as the teams’ director of player development form 2001-04…Played eight seasons in the NFL as a running back for the Packers and Chicago Bears from 1992-1999, totaling 3,992 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns on 1,115 carries. 

Berbenich: Enters his 15th season as an NFL coach, his first with the Raiders…Spent the past five seasons with the Indianapolis Colts…Served the last two years as the team’s offensive assistant/assistant quarterbacks coach…Spent the 2015 season as the team’s defensive assistant…Joined the Colts in 2013 as an offensive assistant, a role he served for two years…Was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for six years (2006-11), working the first three under Head Coach Jon Gruden…Joined the staff as an offensive quality control coach in 2006, before being promoted to assistant running backs coach in 2008 and assistant wide receivers coach in 2009…Entered the NFL with the New York Jets in 2000 as an intern in the team’s operations department and was hired on full-time in 2002…Joined the coaching ranks in 2003 as an offensive assistant and spent the 2005 season as New York’s offensive assistant/quality control coach.

Cable: Begins his second stint with the Raiders, bringing over 30 years of coaching experience to the post…Spent the last seven seasons (2011-17) as the Seattle Seahawks’ assistant head coach/offensive line coach, helping the team win Super Bowl XLVIII…Originally joined the Raiders in 2007 as the team’s offensive line coach, before serving as the interim head coach for the final 12 games of 2008 and head coach from 2009-10…Entered the NFL coaching ranks in 2006 as the offensive line coach for the Atlanta Falcons…From 2004-05, was the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at UCLA…Served as the University of Idaho’s head coach from 2000-03…Served as the University of Colorado’s offensive coordinator/offensive line coach from 1998-99…Spent six seasons (1992-97) as the University of California’s offensive line coach…Spent one season in 1991 as UNLV’s offensive line coach after coaching the defensive line at Cal State Fullerton for one year in 1990…Began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Idaho (1987-88) and San Diego State (1989).

Holz: Enters seventh season with the Raiders…Spent 2017 as the team’s assistant wide receivers coach, after two seasons as the Silver and Black’s quality control – offense coach from 2015-16 and three seasons as the team’s offensive assistant from 2012-14, working closely with the team’s wide receivers…Prior to joining Raiders, spent four years (2008-11) at Stanford University as assistant quarterbacks coach…Began his coaching career at the University of Nebraska as an offensive quality control coach in 2007.

Lippincott: Joins the Raiders for his 11th NFL season, having spent the previous 10 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals from 2008-17…Was the assistant linebackers/quality control coach for six seasons in Cincinnati from 2012-17…Spent the 2011 season as the team’s defensive quality control coach…Joined the Bengals in 2008 as a coaching assistant, a role he served in for three seasons…Coached at the University of Richmond for three seasons from 2005-07, serving as the assistant defensive line coach from 2005-06 and the safeties coach in 2007…Spent two years as a graduate assistant at the University of Minnesota from 2003-04…Began his coaching career at Bluffton University as the team’s defensive line coach from 2000-02.

O’Neil: Enters his first season with the Raiders and ninth year as an NFL coach…Brings three years of experience as an NFL defensive coordinator to the post…Served as the San Francisco 49ers’ defensive coordinator for the 2016 season…Spent two seasons as the defensive coordinator of the Cleveland Browns from 2014-15…Coached linebackers for the Buffalo Bills for one year in 2013…Spent four years with the New York Jets (2009-12), serving as the defensive backs/quality control coach in 2009 before being promoted to assistant defensive backs coach for the 2010-12 seasons…Served as the defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach at Towson University in 2005…Spent two years at Northwestern University from 2003-04, serving as a graduate assistant/defensive backs coach…Coached at the University of Pennsylvania in 2002 as the team’s assistant offensive line coach…Began his coaching career at the University at Albany in 2001 as the assistant offensive line/tight ends coach.

Razzano: Enters his first season with the Raiders after spending the previous six years as an area scout with the Indianapolis Colts, focusing on the western United States and assisting on special assignments for both pro and college scouting…Holds 25 years of scouting experience, which also includes stints with the San Francisco 49ers (1988-92), St. Louis Rams (1992-2006) and Arizona Cardinals (2006-09).

Singleton: Enters his first season with the Raiders and third NFL coaching season…Spent the last two seasons as the Indianapolis Colts’ running backs coach…Served as the special teams coordinator/running backs coach at the University of Arkansas in 2015…Coached running backs at Oklahoma State for four seasons from 2011-14…Spent nine years over two stints at the Air Force Academy…Served as the run game coordinator/running backs coach from 2007-10 after spending the 2006 season as the running backs coach…Was a varsity assistant from 2003-05 after getting his start in 2000 as a prep assistant.

Frank Smith: Joins the Raiders after spending the past three seasons (2015-17) as the tight ends coach of the Chicago Bears…Brings 13 years of coaching experience, including the last eight within the NFL ranks…Began his NFL coaching career with the New Orleans Saints (2010-14) as an offensive assistant/offensive line coach…Prior to joining NFL ranks, Smith served as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach at Butler University from 2007-09…Started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Miami (Ohio) University from 2004-05.

Travis Smith: Enters his seventh season with the Raiders, after previously serving as outside linebackers in 2017 and quality control - defense from 2015-16…Served as the team’s defensive assistant from 2012-14, working closely with both the linebackers and defensive line…Joined Raiders after spending three years in the college ranks as offensive technical intern at the University of Colorado in 2011 and tight ends/defensive line at Santa Monica Junior College in 2010…Began coaching career as an undergraduate assistant at Cal Poly in 2009. 

Storer: Enters his first season with the Raiders and his fifth year coaching in the NFL…Begins his second stint on assistant head coach/special teams coordinator Rich Bisaccia’s staff…Served as the San Diego Chargers’ assistant linebackers coach in 2013 after spending one season as the team’s assistant special teams coach in 2012…Spent the 2010-11 seasons as the assistant special teams coach for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers…Played three seasons in the NFL for Buccaneers from 2007-09, appearing in 16 games.

Trgovac: Enters his first season with the Raiders after spending the past nine years (2009-17) as the defensive line coach of the Green Bay Packers…Joined the Panthers in 2002 as the defensive line coach before being promoted to defensive coordinator from 2003-08…Served as the defensive line coach for the Redskins from 2000-01…Served his first stint with the Packers in 1999 as the defensive line coach…Began his NFL coaching career with the Eagles from 1995-98, working on the same coaching staff as Head Coach Jon Gruden for the first three seasons…Prior to coaching in the NFL, spent 11 seasons coaching defensive linemen at the college level with Notre Dame (1992-94), Colorado State (1990-91), Navy (1989), Ball State (1986-88), Michigan (1984-85).

Raiders media services contributed to this report