Notes from Wednesday morning practice:
– Cornerbacks Nnamdi Asomugha and DeAngelo Hall, two of the most significant investments of the Raiders’ offseason, are hurting.
X-Rays were negative on Asomugha’s right foot, which isn’t the same as saying there is no discomfort.
“Right now it hurts when I walk,” Asomugha said. “It definitely hurts breaking on the football. I’ll continue to be limited in whatever I’m doing but I don’t think it’s a big issue.”
Said Kiffin: “He’s fine and ready to go. He worked really hard today, too. It was good to see.”
Hall continues to play with a cast on his right hand. He told the San Francisco Chronicle Tuesday there was a broken bone in his hand.
“We’re getting another opinion on it, another person to look at it,” Kiffin said. “(The) only thing that we know for sure is that it is a bruise. It’s a bruise with a possible sprain. So we’ve got got to make sure it’s not broken. There has been nothing so far that has said that it’s broken, none of the readings. But we want to make sure of this.”
Hall shrugged his shoulders and went with the program.
“Somebody asked me, `How do you feel knowing it’s not broken?,’ ” Hall said. “That was the first time I heard that. I guess I feel good. I know something hurts, though. We’re just going to try to get to the bottom of it. I still can’t touch anything. I can’t put my hand down. Still very painful.”
Kiffin said it’s possible Hall might sit out the Titans game Friday night. Don’t be surprised if Asomugha follows suit _ or plays a series or two before taking the rest of the night off.
– Maybe it was a coincidence, but Asomugha found himself losing track of Drew Carter twice in coverage. The first came when he was sucked inside on a reverse roll by JaMarcus Russell, who overthrew a wide open Carter on the sideline for what would have been a big gain.
Later it happened again _ and Russell obliged by again missing the open Carter.
– It seems like twisted logic, but while it seems the Raiders are doing whatever they can to make sure their injured cornerbacks take the field, they quickly bring in replacements when their kickers go down.
Shane Lechler sustained a quadriceps injury late in practice Tuesday which Kiffin said would take seven to 10 days to heal. A new punter was on the way, and off the podium following his press briefing, Kiffin said he wasn’t even sure who it is.
And he may not know even when the punter arrives. It’s not clear if Kiffin knows the name of Aaron Elling, brought in to place kick for the ailing Sebastian Janikowski (hamstring).
“We’re flying another punter in here,” Kiffin said. “He’ll be in here in a little bit, to try him out, and most likely we’ll sign a punter. That other guy we have can punt but we’d prefer have a guy who’s a punter firsthand.”
– Kwame Harris sat out with a shoulder injury, and if he can’t go in the night session, it’s conceivable that Mario Henderson will be protecting the blind side of Russell against a very strong Tennessee defensive front.
Kiffin has been unsparingly blunt in his assessment of Henderson, a third-round draft pick in 2007 who was expected to mount a challenge to Cornell Green on the right side.
There was more than a little dry sarcasm in Kiffin’s voice when he said, “We’re going to push (Harris) out there tonight. If he doesn’t play, super Mario would start for us on JaMarcus’ backside and that will be interesting versus (Kyle) VandenBosch.”
Kiffin said Henderson has improved, but noted he is “still a long ways away from being ready to play.”
– Russell, assuming he makes it that far, will play a half. He had another subpar day passing the ball. He had just one turnover, a pass stolen by linebacker Thomas Howard, with whom the quarterback seems to be developing an unwanted chemistry.
Kiffin kept it bland for Russell against the 49ers and may do much of the same against Tennessee. He simply doesn’t believe in emptying the playbook in the preseason.
He attributed Russell’s erratic passing to being tired.
“JaMarcus has pushed through and hasn’t had a day off,” Kiffin said. “So he’s tired. He’s supposed to be. It’s training camp.”
As for the development of his young quarterback, Kiffin remained upbeat regarding Russell’s ability to operate within the system.
“We’re going to get to see this week and next two games will be a big test for him to see where he’s at,” Kiffin said. “All the stuff out here he’s taken care of now let’s see if he can carry it over into the game.”
Russell did close out a team session with a laser beam of a touchdown pass to John Madsen in the seam _ his best pass in three days.
One team session featured four dropped passes from Russell and Tuiasosopo in five plays by Bush, Justin Fargas, Todd Watkins and finally Chaz Schilens.
Said running backs coach Tom Rathman to Bush: “C’mon, Michael, get your head right!”
– Wide receivers James Lofton didn’t find it amusing, but when a Russell pass exploded off the facemask of wide receiver Jonathan Holland and then fell to the ground, it provided some comic relief for his snickering teammates, who were probably wondering why Holland’s hands weren’t at least in the way.
– Three positions which Kiffin remain up for grabs _ Carter vs. Ronald Curry at wide receiver; Jake Grove vs. John Wade at center; and Ricky Brown vs. Robert Thomas at strong side linebacker.
The starters against Tennessee will be Curry, Wade and Brown. Curry, who drew early raves from Kiffin for working so hard at remaking his body, has been plagued by drops of late. He did make one nice catch for a first down against Asomugha Wednesday.
– Those who won’t play against the Titans other than the kickers include wide receiver Arman Shields (knee), tight end Darrell Strong (shoulder) and cornerback John Bowie (knee).
– Another day, another good practice for Javon Walker. He hasn’t exactly been the gamebreaker the Raiders expect him to be, but Walker has at least made the routine catches and is playing aggressively and with enthusiasm.
“I’ve been very critical of Javon throughout this camp and throughout the offseason and he’s had a string right here of the best practices he’s had,” Kiffin said. “He looks to be in the right frame of mind lately and so if we can continue to work on that and push that, it’s going in a positive direction.”
Walker said he weighs 206 pounds _ the lightest he has ever been _ and laughed when asked about whether he had any doubts about going through the grind of a season in the wake of his “retirement” offer early in camp.
“Obviously if you can make it through the training camp the hard part is done,” Walker said. “So it’s kind of like why make it through training camp and stop now. You made it through the hard part, the fun part is about to start. I’m looking forward to that and hopefully being apart of the turnaround that we can hopefully have this year and hopefully a big year.”
– Walker was one of four joggers for pre-snap violations.
“I’m always punished, dawg,” Walker said to no one in particular as he jogged past invited guests along the sideline.
Other joggers were running back Michael Bush, linebacker Grant Irons and defensive end Derrick Burgess.
– Quarterback Andrew Walter was rested for the morning session but is expected to face Tennessee.
Let's hope that Kwame is feeling better because the last thing we need is for Henderson to be protecting Russell's blindside. Especially against Van den Bosch on the Titans.