Pirate Booty: Raiders Practice, Houston a Rising Star, Coaches Take Players' Side and More

Alright, another day of news that contains actual Oakland Raider football! We have various reports straight out of Buford, Georgia regarding the Raiders and their players only practice. I can't say that there was anything overly interesting coming out of the reports, but in this state of self-imposed football void even mundane details are fascinating if they happen on the field.

Along with the practice news we have plenty of interesting tidbits—including one analyst waxing poetic about Lamarr Houston's star potential.

Along with boredom and frustration the lockout gives us an opportunity to revel as Raider fans that the organization we root for is full of profesionals that are using this time to come together. It was just a couple of seasons ago when circumstances like this would have resulted in Al Davis breaking out the overhead to get his firing on, and the Raiders players showing up looking more like a bowling squad than a proud football team.

There is also plenty of news regarding the current state of the lockout. Jump over for all the football fix cyberspace has to offer....

Raiders Practice Notes

Camp Seymour, Day 2 - Inside the Oakland Raiders
Notes and quotes as relayed by correspondent Ben Beitzel of the Gwinnett Daily Post at a passing camp attended by Raiders’ players in the Atlanta area.

Due to its location and being through competitive edge sports the Raiders practice became a destination for about 20 players from other teams.

NFL.com news: Go time: Raiders challenge players from other teams in 7-on-7
Players from multiple teams have been holding such sessions among their own groups for weeks, but this is believed to be the first seven-on-seven workout with players from different teams during the lockout, which is in its third month.

Speaking of locations, that is one of the big reasons mentioned in niner land as to why their team has failed to launch a workout like the Raiders.

49ers Lockout Workouts: Trailing Some Of The League - Niners Nation

One of the obstacles is that the Bay Area is an expensive place to live and that many of the players choose to live elsewhere in the offseason.

Isn't it nice to be rooting for a team that is doing the things that makes fans happy? One of the reasons for this is strong leadership. We've certainly discussed that here, and it is not lost on others.

49ers Blog and Q&A: Keeping score: How the 49ers stack up in player-led workouts
A quick canvass of beatwriters across the country shows that most teams have at least a dozen or so players who meet regularly to stay in shape. Others have organized more team-wide sessions that mimic the OTAs and minicamps that the ongoing lockout has wiped away. One common denominator for teams that are holding more extensive practices: A strong leader - or two -- who has organized the event and in some instances has paid for rank-and-file players to attend. Another factor: A state or a city, such as Atlanta or Phoenix, in which a lot of players spend their offseasons.

If you haven't seen them already here are pictures from Tuesday's practice session.

Slide show: Raiders hold informal workout in Georgia - San Jose Mercury News
Images from the practice led by Raiders star Richard Seymour on Tuesday.


Raiders Grab Bag O' Booty

Matt Williamson of Scouts.Inc is a big Lamarr Houston. We highlighted it earlier when Williamson named the Raiders for having the best defensive line in the AFC West. Well, Williamson is back to tout the young defensive lineman again.

Soon to be stars: Lamarr Houston - AFC West Blog - ESPN
Houston proved to be a great run defender with an excellent combination of power and quickness. He plays low, is quick to shed and will get better and better with this as he enhances his hand placement when taking on a block. And who better than Richard Seymour to teach Houston such a skill?

A while ago I brought us all an exclusive transcript of a dinner with Stefen Wisniewski and his uncle and now coach, Steve Wisniewski. Coach and player are barred from talking due to the lockout, but nephew and uncle are not—as long as it was not about football. Well, it turns out that Stefen told reporters they are just playing it safe and not talking at all.

NFL.com news: Raiders' two Wisniewskis aren't speaking due to lockout
Cordial conversation between relatives -- like New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin and son-in-law guard Chris Snee -- aren't being overly regulated. Even so, Wisniewski said he and his uncle, a former standout Raiders lineman, have been playing it safe. He doesn't like it at all but said no one is taking any chances.

Cam Inman, aka Dudley Downer, checks in with an article sure to bum-out any Bay Area fan. He ranks the top ten gut-wrenching, heart-breaking losses in Bay Area history. The Raiders check in twice. The tuck rule at No. 6 and they also take the No. 1 dishonor:

Cam Inman: Ranking the toughest defeats in Bay Area history - San Jose Mercury News
1. The Immaculate Reception. Walk through Pittsburgh's airport and you will see a statue of the Steelers' Franco Harris leaning over to scoop up a football. That immortalized moment traces to the 1972 Raiders' death knell. Harris scored on a 60-yard touchdown reception in the waning seconds to cap a 13-7 playoff triumph. He picked up a deflected Terry Bradshaw pass intended for John "Frenchy" Fuqua, who was drilled by Raiders safety Jack Tatum.

We discussed the drop percentage of the Raiders receivers last week. Well, the folks at PFF are back to grade the tight ends. Zach Miller doesn't check in on the top or bottom 10 of these lists—no surprise. Miller will suffer the occasional drop, but that can be excused given the fact that once he catches the ball he becomes Superman on a quest to get to the chains. And in the end, it is not Miller's hands that make him an elite pass catching TE, but his ability to get open.

Drop Percentage: Tight Ends | ProFootballFocus.com
Khaled Elsayed follows up his wide receiver article with Drop Percentage numbers for NFL tight ends.


Around the AFC West

Even a team as despicable as the Chiefs can do the right thing

VIDEO: Volunteers Gather At Arrowhead Stadium To Help Joplin Tornado Victims - Arrowhead Pride
The mothership has posted a video about the Kansas City Chiefs' first day of their water drive to help the victims of the Joplin Tornado. It looks pretty busy there with former players, fans, the Chiefs cheerleaders and even KC Wolf getting in on the volunteer action.

Meanwhile the Broncos try to figure out how to get their personnel to fit a 4-3. This is a rough offseason to go through the kind of transitions the Broncos are going through.

Q&A: Dumervil will fit in just fine in Fox's 4-3 defense - The Denver Post
During the Mike Shanahan era, the Broncos did some experimenting with Elvis Dumervil's spot on the defense. They even tried him at tackle in some packages.

Under Review - Why Justin Bannan Should Return - Mile High Report
The only reason that Bannan was cut was to prevent paying him a half million dollar roster bonus at the beginning of a new league year. We might not have a choice but to bring him back and see what he can do in a 4-3.

Generally, I have found that I am not a fan of things that Philip Rivers is a fan of. The following is another one of those instances.

Philip Rivers likes those rumors about Carolina’s Steve Smith | ProFootballTalk
Panthers wideout Steve Smith is from the Los Angeles area, and would reportedly love to play close to home again. The Chargers are reportedly at least somewhat interested. Consider Philip Rivers one of those interested Chargers.


Around the Lockout

Coaches Back Players in Lockout

The NFL coaches are really caught in the middle of this lockout. The labor strife does not concern their salaries or future, but it is already costing the majority of them in pay cuts (not the Raiders). Check out which ones here:

The list of teams cutting pay during the lockout | ProFootballTalk

 In light of the fact that coaches will lose even more pay should this lockout extend into the season the coaches have thrown their say into the upcoming appeal of Judge Nelson's ruling to lift the lockout. Their lawyers sent the 8th circuit court a 14-page explanation of the damages caused to them due to the lockout.

NFL coaches urge court to 'end the lockout' - NFL - Sporting News
"Damages would not be an adequate remedy for NFL coaches who suffer from the NFL's illegal group boycott," the brief read. "The lockout will be responsible for avoidable professional failures, and damages cannot compensate the coaches and their families for such harm."

AFP: NFL coaches back players in contract dispute
"Owners and fans increasingly demand immediate success, and coaches whose teams cannot fulfill such severe expectations face likely dismissal, which means the uprooting of families, economic dislocation, and a significantly less promising career path," lawyers for the NFL Coaches Association wrote in the brief filed with the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

While their arguments raise valid points in the end it may not sway the court's ruling. As Mike Florio points out below that the losses and gained by coaches as a whole is going to be a wash.

NFL Coaches Association files legal brief in support of players | ProFootballTalk
The NFL, like every professional sports league, represents a zero-sum proposition, with a winner for every loser, and a good team for every bad one. Thus, each year the coaches of the worst teams face the possibility of termination.

Roger Goodell Speaks

Roger Goodell: NFL sees fans are turned off by lockout - ESPN
The NFL is seeing the early signs of cracks in fan loyalty.

What? You mean fans aren't enjoying and supporting the lockout? I am appalled.

Commissioner Goodell interview transcript | ProFootballTalk
[Editor's note:  NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell joined ProFootballTalk Live on Wednesday, May 11, for an interview that touched on various pending topics and issues.  The full transcript appears below.]

The Depressing Divide in Negotiations

This article does a nice job of illustrating some of the sticking points, and gaps in negotiations, for the new CBA

NFL and players oceans apart during labor dispute - San Jose Mercury News
Where does that leave us? In the courts and far from the fields—quite possibly for longer than any football fan wants to contemplate.

Miscellaneous NFL Booty

There are so many ways around the no contact order between coaches and players it is silly, and the funniest thing is I don't think anyone cares.

Sam Bradford could be getting help from Ben McDaniels | ProFootballTalk
Though the lockout rules prevent Bradford from working with Josh McDaniels, nothing prevents Bradford from working with Ben McDaniels. Even if, as Thomas believes, Ben McDaniels will eventually be hired by the Rams to work as an assistant coach.

I'll just say right now that I am willing to be a "friend" with both the Raiders players and coaches during the lockout. To avoid conflict they don't need to pay me anything or give me an official title. I'll take being in the good graces of Al Davis as reward enough.

LaMarr Woodley is not a big fan of player safety.

Woodley upset that football is "turning soft" | ProFootballTalk
Man, they’re getting ridiculous. Football is turning soft now," Woodley told Rich Gannon and Adam Schein on SiriusXM NFL Radio on Wednesday. "Too many fines. Too many penalties protecting the quarterback every single play. Defensive guys can’t be defensive guys no more."

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