Coach Jackson:This team is progressing and getting better and today we were in shells and guys competed. I am sure you guys can see that out there. I love the tempo of our practices. Sometimes it doesn't go fast enough for me just because I truly believe that we have to keep going that way but today was about situations. You know we get into situational football; first down, second down and third down. We are starting to understand that there are certain situations; all situations you have to win. Today was the emphasis of third down; where the offense is trying to make it and the defense is trying to get them off the field. That makes it competitive within itself. So, what another good day for us, excited to meet tonight and practice tomorrow.
Q: Had a lot of guys just back off today?
Coach Jackson: Some of that is me. I have what they call the 30 club. I made that decision and I think they loved it. It came at the right time for some of those guys. I truly believe in that; preserve some bodies that need to be preserved for the guys that have been playing a long time. I think the whole team wishes they were 30 but that is not the case so there is some guys that I give them the opportunity to have their day to do what they need to do physically so that we can get them back out tomorrow. They are very appreciative but they will be back out here practicing again tomorrow.
Q: You ask them or you just do it?
Coach Jackson: No, I do it. That is just one of my deals. Again, I ask this team to practice hard, extremely hard as you guys can see and I think they are giving me that. As they give me something I am going to give them something back in return. It is a two-way street and I trust my players, I trust what we are trying to accomplish and that is my job. I am trying to keep this team as healthy as I can.
Q: What is their reaction as you told them about the plus-30 club?
Coach Jackson: Oh they were fired up because I tell them in front of the whole team. Like I said, I think it was a bunch of guys who wish they were over thirty years old, but it's ok. Like Kyle Boller, he wanted to practice and he should. He needs to as a quarterback; little bit different situation for him and Michael Bennett practiced today and Rock took the day off. It is a real good deal for those guys that have been playing a lot of years and they know what it takes. They know how to get their bodies ready. That is my respect for them that they will do the things that they need to do when it comes time and they practice like I want them to practice so they earned it. It is not something I just give; so they have earned that.
Q: You got Huff back in the mix, was there a time where you thought you might lose him?
Coach Jackson: Well it is free agency, so you know anything could happen, but again like I said Huff is another one of our tremendous Raiders. He likes being here, he likes playing with his teammates, he loves this organization and truly believes we are building something and wanted to be a part of it. We are fortunate to have him back and on we go.
Q: Is he locked in at safety, Hue, or can he potentially see some time at corner?
Coach Jackson: He is locked in at safety, but he is one of the guys that can play several things but he is our safety. He is returning to the position he plays, and I am expecting a big season from him.
Q: With the loss of Nnamdi, are you looking to bring in another corner?
Coach Jackson: Again, you know it is still free agency going on, so as I told you I am trying to do everything I can to get this team as good as I can. If there is player out there that can help us, trust me, we are looking at him. That is something that me and Coach are always discussing -- Continue to build this team, build this roster to be the best it can be. That is one of my goals is to have the best team when we get ready to play the Denver Broncos.
Q: Going into the season with this group of offensive lineman and not add anybody else; would you feel comfortable that you can find five guys to be the bully that you want?
Coach Jackson: I think so. I think these guys are progressing. We kind of have what we have but again I am not going to stop turning every rock that I can to get this team as good as I can get it. There will be other people that come in here that we will take a look at. There is no question about that but there are five capable guys up there that know how to play. Just have to get them playing together all at one time. Those guys are getting coached; Bob Wylie and Steve Wisniewski are doing an excellent job. I think the guys are starting to get their feet underneath them. When you go through this body process first as you guys know they haven't been running like this, grinding like this, so all of a sudden your body takes a little while to get back use to all of this and the hitting and all that. I think we have some men that are willing to step up and get done what we need to get done.
Q: What has been the biggest adjustment for you going from offensive coordinator to head coach; since it is your first training camp as a head coach?
Coach Jackson: Oh it is, but when I would see the ball run through the defense I would get pissed, I get mad because that is not what I want to see and when I see our defense in the offense's backfield, I don't want to see that. So whose side are you on? And then I realize I am head coach, so I have to be on both sides. So that part is fun but it is a good experience to go through because it makes me make both sides compete and that what it is truly all about. I can't wait to watch our special teams and obviously we have no live drills there but again this football team is progressing. I cannot say enough about the intent on how we go out there with a purpose everyday to get better. It is something we talk about at night and it is something I have addressed. As I told you guys before, my job is to make sure these players understand the history of the Raiders and we did that last night. I mean we really talked about tape that was put together that I think if you asked our players was fantastic. I mean there have been some great players that have played here and we need to uphold that standard.
Q: Do you have a team dinner or meeting?
Coach Jackson: No, we have a team meeting tonight. We had a team meeting last night and I wanted to share my vision, my goals for this team, and what my expectation is. I was trying to wait until everybody got here because we're still just dwindling in little by little. We have what we have and I was very excited with what our men thought about after that because it's truly about winning. That's what the Raiders are about and that is what our owners are about. Commitment to excellence, pride and poise is what the Raiders stand for and that's what we want to get back to.
Q: The tempo of camp is a lot faster than in previous years and guys don't seem to be standing around a lot more now. Do the guys appreciate this?
Coach Jackson: [Laughs]. Well, I don't know if they appreciate it but I truly believe that is what you have to do to be a good football team. I have had an opportunity to work under some terrific head coaches and you take little bits and pieces from everybody. But, there is really no substitute for the way you play this game. It is a tough, tiring, physical game and you have to prepare your body, your mind, your spirit, your passion and your energy that way. I don't know any other way to do it, I truly don't. I know sometimes people get disappointed in that, but I don't care. My job is to lead this team and to get this team to be as good as it can be, so that's what I'm going to do.
Q: Day one of camp, you were saying that perhaps the defense has an edge. How do you see the two teams coming along with the defense coming along and how is the offense?
Coach Jackson: Well, the defense is starting to communicate better and normally by day four, you have some lax because we're installing quite a bit of defense as we're installing quite a bit of offense. The fun part, as I said the other day, for me is to see the two teams are going back and forth. It's not like the defense is killing the offense or the offense is killing the defense. It's somewhere in between, there's a happy medium of what's really going on. I see a very competitive group of men who are competing as hard as they can at their skill, getting better, and starting to recognize all the things that I truly believe it takes to win football games. We have got to solve our penalty issue and that's what the officials are here for. There were way too many flags today and one is too many in my opinion. We have to get more turnovers on defense and there's not enough in practice yet. We have to take the ball away from the offense and the offense has to keep the ball. I see those things we talked about more than ever before. I see those situations on 3rd down and the down distances are being talked about more than ever before. To me, that's progress.
Q: Are you going to have the officials here the entire camp?
Coach Jackson: I sure want to. I don't want to have to play official because I'm going to take somebody's side. But, my goal is to have them here. It's an emphasis for this football team and we led the league in penalties last year; that's a fact. That's something we have to get better at and it's an issue that I'm going to have to address and that our team must address.
Q: Al Saunders has been the Offensive Coordinator of some of the most electrifying offenses in NFL history. What does he bring to the team and what can he do for you?
Coach Jackson: Oh, man. He's been tremendous to me as a friend, firstly, and as our Offensive Coordinator, he runs the offense. I call the plays, but Al is a tremendous asset to this organization and what he allows me to do is go help on defense any way that I can. I feel comfortable that when I walk away and say, "Al you got it," he totally has it. You guys think I have energy? Oh my gosh, this guy has a boatload of energy. That's what it takes; we have to drive these men. He has that, that's why he's here and I'm so excited about him and what he brings to the staff. You guys see us doing different things and we're not doing the same things. We're a multiple offensive football team that does everything it can to create opportunities for its players and that's what we're going to do.
Q: How close is Darrius Heyward-Bey to getting back on the field and is Chekwa's situation look like it's going to go on awhile?
Coach Jackson: I think Darrius is close, no question that he is. Chekwa. it could go on. I don't think it's anything that's major, by any stretch of imagination. I just think we're going to let it calm down, simmer down and he'll get back here soon. I don't have a timeline to get you but I don't think he'll be gone a long length of time. I mean, again, I'm going to be cautious with anybody who has an injury because I want to make sure they are totally healthy before we put them back out there.
Q: What's going on with Jacoby [Ford]?
Coach Jackson: Jacoby Ford broke his left hand. Unfortunately, everybody is looking like, "Oh gosh, here we go." Jacoby Ford will be fine and again, those are the things that happen. He's good, he'll be back and I feel very good about it. He's good, his spirits are good, and we'll be rolling soon.
Q: When did he do that?
Coach Jackson: Yesterday.
Q: Do you think that [Jacoby's injury] will go on a couple of weeks then?
Coach Jackson: That one could go on, no doubt, it could. But he's going to be fine. It was his left hand. As I told you guys, there is no question that we don't want to get anybody hurt but that's just part of it. We'll be fine, he'll be fine, he'll be ready for the start of the season, and on we go.
Q: Is there anybody, four days in, that stands out to you?
Coach Jackson: I'm not going to tell you that there's a surprise. I'm very excited about what our quarterback is doing. I think Jason [Campbell] is doing a fantastic job. McClain is doing a really good job. Tyvon Branch is everything I said he is and I feel very comfortable where he's going. Obviously, Jared Veldheer, who is in his second year in the league. Wisniewski is playing center, he's playing a lot of snaps, so he's running the show up there and doing a tremendous job. Louis Murphy, today, had an outstanding day. But, there are so many players I could talk about individually, but collectively, our whole team is starting to get what it takes to week in, week out and day in, day out. Every time we step on this field, to get better and that's probably what I'm most excited about -- the team, the attitude, the conviction of coming out here with a purpose to play. There's some young men out there now working at their skill and that's what it takes. These guys want to be good and there's no substitute for hard work.
Q: How close is Shaughnessy to becoming an elite lineman?
Coach Jackson: I've said earlier this year that he's about to hit his stride. He's got to do it consistently over time like any player in this league does. He works hard; there's not a harder worker on this football team and there's not another player with more desire than he has. He's getting there and he's very close, in my opinion.
Q: Do you see a difference in the physicality of this team?
Coach Jackson: Yes, I do. I do because we're demanding. There's no substitute for that. We keep talking about it and we're going to talk about it as long as I'm here. I mean there is no substitute for how physical this game is and you have to prepare your mind, your body and everything for that kind of fight. These players are and the coaches are putting them in those types of environments. So, the players are responding to it and they're not running from it because they want it. We want it rough, tough, and as hard as it can be.
Q: I know you said it's an ongoing process but can you tell me about Bush and Miller?
Coach Jackson: Well, I'm going to continue to say it's an ongoing process. I'm going to use that statement again [laughs]. But, I think those things will resolve themselves soon. Obviously, Michael is ours and those guys don't have to truly practice until the 4th. So, some guys get a little extra time to themselves and they might have a playbook and be studying it. Zach is a free agent and I've talked to him several times and which way it goes, nobody knows. Obviously, his teammates and his coach would love to have him back here. But again, no different than anybody else who is a free agent, they will do what is best for them and we'll go from there.