Tom Cable announced that current starting right tackle, Langston Walker, had some elbow clean-up surgery, but said it was, "Nothing big, just so we're ready to go to camp." Possibly in response, the Raiders added two new offensive tackles to the preseason mix, Allen Smith and Elliot Vallejo. Neither player has been added to the team's online roster yet.The addition of tackles suggests that the Raiders understand they still have a need for depth on the offensive line. Adding rookies Jared Veldheer and Bruce Campbell will be very helpful, but it's also good to see even more faces come in and create competition amongst the offensive line.
Vallejo was actually added to the Raiders practice squad at the end of last season. He is a two year-pro from the University of California-Davis. A 6'7" 312 pound tackle, Vallejo was a star on the field but he also excelled in the classroom as an engineering student. After the 2008 draft, Vallejo was picked up by the Arizona Cardinals as a free agent. He was under the tutelage of legendary offensive line coach Russ Grimm on the Cardinals' practice squad. Now he'll be under the tutelage of two great offensive line coaches in their own right, Tom Cable and Jim Michalczik.
Smith (6'4", 300lbs.) played his college ball at Stanford under highly coveted Cardinal's head coach Jim Harbaugh. He started seven games as a left tackle during his sophomore year, earned 12 consecutive starts during his junior year, and suffered a torn patella just three games into his 2007 senior year. He missed the entire 2008 season as a fifth-year senior while recovering from the patella injury. As a sixth year-senior in 2009 (received a medical hardship and sixth year of eligibility), Smith suffered a sprained ACL in his right knee; tough goings for the young man, but he looks like he has an upside if he can manage to stay healthy. Levi Damien told me that Cable singled Smith out as playing great in his first couple of OTA practices.
Cable said he hopes his young guys can elevate the atmosphere at training camp, "I think young people like [Lamarr Houston], Des Bryant, Tyvon Branch, and Rolando, they all kind of come out of the same mold in that you gotta be relentless to play defense. I see Lamarr bringing that to practice every day and when they get to training camp and get the chance to have contact and do those things, it will just elevate everybody."
Cable is excited for his young cornerbacks, who are getting a few practices in with the first team defense with the excused absences of Nnamdi Asomugha and Chris Johnson. Stanford Routt had a short practice today as well and called it a day when his back tightened up on him. "[Walter] McFadden is so much better than he was two weeks ago," said Coach Cable. "And then you see he had a problem on a post route, and [Jeremy]Ware had an issue with something and it's like, ‘it's ok, you'll learn from that', but it's good they are getting that amount of work right now."
Unfortunately, the Raiders are practicing too hard. The NFL and the NFLPA did not specify what Oakland did to violate the terms and guidelines of OTA practices, but they did issue a press release stating that the Raiders were losing two practices next week on Wednesday and Thursday. Jerry MacDonald speculates that it may be due to either practicing for too long during sessions or allowing too much contact.
Rookie tackle Jared Veldheer said, "It's a lot of contact right now," and he added that the running plays are pretty full go, even without pads. The good news is that the Baltimore Ravens are joining the Raiders as another team that is going too hard. Perhaps Hue Jackson is rubbing off some of that Baltimore toughness on this Oakland Raiders squad. The bad news is that they were probably reported by a player on their own team.
The following are the contents of the press release: "The NFL Management Council and the NFL Players Association have resolved a dispute concerning the Oakland Raiders' off-season workout program. As a result, the parties have agreed to cancel two days of the Raiders' off-season program (next Wednesday and Thursday, June 16 and 17) which had previously been designated as OTA days. Raiders' players are not permitted to be at the facility on those days, but will be paid for the sessions. The club cannot reschedule the cancelled OTA days."
In non-Raider, but Raider-related AFC West news, San Diego Chargers wide receiver Vincent Jackson and offensive left tackle Marcus McNeill continue to hold out of San Diego Chargers OTA's. Word on the street is that the two star players want a long-term deal and the Chargers are not planning on giving them what they desire. The Chargers, in fact, went so far as to threaten to lower their offer to the two players next Tuesday if they don't sign their restricted free agent tenders. Teams can reduce a restricted free agents salary to 110 percent of the previous season's salary if they don't sign their tender.
ESPN AFC West blogger Bill Williamson wrote, "This situation truly could get ugly. San Diego general manager A.J. Smith is not one to be toyed with. He won't blink. If a player wants to sit because of finances, Smith is not going to be backed into a corner. If these players hold out, Smith will simply move on without them. I know Jackson knows that. It sounds like McNeill is aware of the stakes as well."
With San Diego having a porous offseason, and the Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders having more notable moves to the early part of their year, the Chargers had better realize they are playing with fire. Just more good news to pump Raider Nation up for the start of the season.
Meanwhile, Ice Cube (who is actually a Bucs fan~~~>) continued to talk his offseason Raiders jargon, saying that he feels bad for former Raiders' QB JaMarcus Russell blaming instability in the coaching staff, two rookie wide receivers, and a team that wasn't able to "get traction" all as reasons for the QB's atrocious performance. He also continued on to say that he thinks it's the older owners fault that the NFL won't get a team in L.A., "It's these older owners, they don't want some new guy to come in and make all this money,"said Cube. He said the new team's name should be the L.A. Ice Cubes, stating that would be a perfect name.
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