Head Coach Hue Jackson addresses the media. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q: How is Lito [Sheppard] and is he going to play on Friday?
Coach Jackson: Yes he will, he looks good and I am excited that he is here. Dying to watch him play and compete and we will see where it goes from there.
Q: Is he in shape?
Coach Jackson: He is in better shape. A lot better shape than I thought he would be and obviously he has been practicing a little bit. Obviously, he can’t go play a whole game but he can play some, but I think he needs to get out there so his teammates can see him compete and I get to see him compete for the Raiders and I think he will do a good job.
Q: If there is a guy on the roster here that as of now you think you might not be able to keep because of numbers or something would you be apt to sit on him this game meaning not play him in fear of him having a good game and it getting on film?
Coach Jackson: No, I don’t subscribe to that. I mean we are going to play our players that are supposed to play in this game. Based on our organization’s view on what we think is best for our team and that is what we are going to do. I feel good that our team is getting healthy, as I have said before, and pretty soon we will have all of our players back.
Q: What are you looking to accomplish in this last preseason game?
Coach Jackson: Another dress rehearsal. You know obviously I like to play to win and I haven’t won yet so it is pissing me off. That might be why I am pissed, but other than that I think it is another opportunity for us to get ready before the season starts. I think our players understand that, at least they know that and that is what we need to do.
Q: Normally in the fourth game you don’t play your starters that much but without OTAs and mini camps are you going to play the starters?
Coach Jackson: As soon as I get that cup of coffee and have that talk with myself then I will make that decision. Like you said that this is a different year, a whole different year, a whole different process that we have all been through. There might be some merit to playing guys more in the last game, but again, that is a decision that I haven’t made yet.
Coach Jackson: I hope he can, but I don’t know that yet. Again we are still in the process of teaching this young man how to do it all. He has done good job and he is very attentive. He does everything that we ask him to do, but again my goal is to get this football team ready. He is out of the equation for a while, so my focus is on our team.
Q: [Chaz] Schilens is back; did that help the mood a little bit?
Coach Jackson: It definitely helps. It helps me know, as I told you guys, my thoughts about when these guys are going to be back and being healthy and being out on the field is probably about right and these guys have been back and they are out and about, not totally, but enough to have me know and feel that by next week that we will have these guys all healthy and in the mix.
Q: Do you feel that you have a good handle on the receivers that are going to be kept at this point?
Coach Jackson: I think so. I think so. Me, myself have a good handle. I know how to think about it, but again I have to share that with our staff and we will go from there. My thought process might be a little bit different than somebody else’s and that is okay. I get 51 percent of the vote so it is all good.
Q: When you opened camp you talked about “Building that Bully.”
Coach Jackson: We are going to build it, trust me when I tell you. We are going to build this bully. I know that people don’t see it yet, but that is okay. I am going to build a bully. We are going to be a bully. We have the ingredients to be a bully and I expect this team will be a bully.
Q: Where is it in the process of it being the bully?
Coach Jackson: The process probably will not start until Denver. The process has already started, but the finished product and what is has to be and how it is going to be probably will not show until then. I mean we played a lot of different players. I haven’t played guys a lot of time, a lot of quarters, a lot of plays. Again that is the process of this offseason and just the way things have been, but I feel very comfortable that this team understands what we are trying to create here and what we need to do to win football games.
Q: How much from this preseason game can change who makes the final 53 or you pretty much have a good handle on that?
Coach Jackson: Oh it can change, I mean as you know a lot of stuff can happen in the last preseason game. I mean things that are very unfortunate somebody can get nicked or whatever all of that is so you never know and we are just going to keep working it. When it is all said and done the guys that are here after this preseason game are the guys that we think can help this organization win a championship and that is all we are after.
Q: What has been the biggest challenge for you as head coach?
Coach Jackson: The biggest challenge for me? You know what? I get that question a lot and I don’t know that I have had a challenge more so than probably working out and I have said this before I don’t think I get a chance to workout anymore. That is probably what has got me a little on the edge right now, not being able to work out and scream and yell with the boys. There is always something to do, but I appreciate it. Trust me, I love my job and love what I am doing and we are going to do it well.
Q: When you look at
Coach Jackson: I think he can get the rust off. But still, he’s got to make this ball club. He hasn’t made this ball club yet and I think that’s what is important. We have to make sure that whoever those guys that we put on the team are going to be the right guys; trust me when I tell you that. These are guys that are going to be able to help us get to where we want to go.
Coach Jackson: I know Derek. You know the term ‘you did the player when he came out.’ That really means that you evaluated the player and worked the player out. I was at his pro day at Arizona State and knew he was very talented. I followed him in his career and I coached at Arizona State, so I knew he was very talented. That is why we signed him. He was a name that I knew and we put him on our team. I’ve always thought he was a good football player and some players need to get in the right environment to let their talent show. Obviously, he’s been great since he’s been here. I’m very happy for him and I think he’s done such a tremendous job and he’s represented himself well.
Q: Is it important to get
Coach Jackson: That’s a good question. Obviously, you want to be smart with those decisions as you make them. If it’s to help him prepare himself, if that’s what we really need, we’ll do it. If we feel like ‘hey, maybe we need to evaluate other people,’ maybe we won’t. I feel very comfortable with him in there, what they are, and what they are to this team. Do I feel like they need something? That’s something I really need to sit down and think through and talk to our staff and organization about to see if we really need to do that. If we do, we will and if we don’t, we won’t.
Q: Is that the same with Darren [McFadden]?
Coach Jackson: Yes, absolutely.
Q: Who is going to return punts and kicks when it is all said and done?
Coach Jackson: I have one guy in my mind and he is the best in football. His name is Jacoby Ford. Jacoby Ford is our kick returner but who is our punt returner? We’ll see as we continue to move forward. I know he’s returning kicks.
Q: Do you see him [Jacoby Ford] in the mix for both?
Coach Jackson: I think he has the potential to be when we stick him back there; I don’t know. We will see. Maybe that will be a spot-duty deal as we go, but he has the potential to do it.
Q: What do you want to see from your quarterbacks this year?
Coach Jackson: That they keep progressing. That position is near and dear to my heart. When we were in San Francisco, we didn’t play as well. We came back last week and did some good things, obviously, with Jason [Campbell] and Kyle [Boller]. Trent [Edwards] wants another crack at it because he wasn’t too happy with his performance but that’s okay since those things do happen. I want to see that group continue to elevate and push this football team where it needs to go. I’m just one big piece of this thing but you have to have the players, the leaders of this team, make sure to have this team progressing and the guys understand that.
Q: Will you flip the order of Trent and Kyle this week?
Coach Jackson: I haven’t made that decision yet. We’re down to the last game and those guys will probably play quite a bit. I haven’t made that decision yet.
Q: How do you assess where the defense is at right now?
Coach Jackson: This is how I assess our defense. This is a defense that has not had 11 starters playing together on a field yet and we still won’t. I can’t truly assess where we are and what we are until we go play a game where all 11 defensive starters are on the football field playing together, walking out there together and competing together. Do I think we have the makings of a very good defensive football team? Yes I do. Do I think we need to improve and get better? Yes I do. Do I think the players understand that and are willing to accept that challenge? Yes I do. They will play well and I feel very comfortable with that.
Q: As far as players on the bubble, will you make it a point to tell them they are on the bubble?
Coach Jackson: There are some guys you tell because some guys are going to come ask you. That is the way it is because this is a grown man’s league and guys ask good questions, so you have to give them the right answers. That is one thing that I don’t believe in is misleading an individual and this is how it is. Sometimes you have to tell a guy and sometimes the guys just know. They know, I need to go perform to give myself a chance whether it is here or someplace else. Every opportunity here might not work for a guy; but somewhere else, there is an opportunity for a young man. What we want to do is give him an opportunity to see if it can work. If it works here, that is great. If it doesn’t work here, then you go somewhere else and have it work for you.