Raiders Head Coach Hue Jackson addresses the media after Saturday's practice. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
Q: You going to put "Wow" on the shelf?
Coach Jackson: Yeah, I am going to leave that one alone. I am going to put "hunters," hunters is my new word because our defense is starting to play football the way I envisioned our defense playing. There are a lot of good players on that side of the ball. We have a lot of good players on the offensive side of the ball but the defensive side of the ball wanted to show up and play and to me ( Rolando) McClain, (Richard) Seymour, Tommy Kelly, Kamerion Wimbley, (Michael) Huff, (Tyvon) Branch, (Stanford) Routt. I mean those guys have the potential to be as good as they want to be and I am challenging them to be great. It makes it tough for our offensive football team and I know they can when they want to but here is the deal…I want them to do it all the time. That is just my expectation and I expect our offense to fight back. There at the end we started fighting back but that's the nature of football, but I am very proud of the progress of this team, very proud of where we are headed. We are by no stretch of the imagination where I want us to be or where we need to be, but let me tell you this group is working. And that is all you can ask and they are becoming something. You guys keep hearing me say that but I truly believe that this football team is becoming something. We are learning how to grind. We are learning how to compete. We are learning how to understand situational football and play within those situations the way I think you need to play.
Q: What do you mean when you say that they are learning how to do these things because it has the connotation that they didn't do it last year?
Coach Jackson: No, that is not what I am saying, because everything is a new beginning because I don't care what happened last year and I was a part of last year. Last year is last year. This is now! When I look at our football team I don't take anything for granted, I can't walk in there thinking 'well, they know.' This is a new beginning, clean slate, for our whole football team so we start from ground zero and we work our way up to where we need to be. So, no it is not a negative connotation as to what went on a year ago because I was here a year ago, so excuse me if that's the point everybody thinks I am making. What I am telling you is this team is starting from the beginning with everything that we do: how we teach them, how we coach them, how we motivate them, how we go about our business, because it is my vision now and has nothing to do with anything else. We have wiped that slate clean and have started over and this is where we are headed.
Q: How do you think (Michael) Bush looked?
Coach Jackson: He looked good. Absolutely, he is in shape and obviously, as I said to you guys the other day, we have to be very careful because I haven't been around him to know what kind of shape he is in but he looks great. He felt like Michael running on the field. He felt quick and fast. He is lean to me which is great. So, we are glad to have him back.
Q: You said you knew that you knew when he would be back; did you know at all that it would be today?
Coach Jackson: No, I am not going to tell you the day, the time, or anything like that but I knew that he would be. I mean Michael (Bush) means a lot to this football team. I mean we handed him the ball last year and he had a tremendous season. And I think he wants to be here; I think he understands his role and he does a great job at that role.
Q: How important is it to have two backs?
Coach Jackson: I think it is very important, because it is hard for a back to play 16 straight regular season games and not get at some point in time nicked up. So I think you have to always have quality players back there. Again our organization has done a great job at making sure we have those players and our players are starting to grow and become what they should become.
Q: What did you think of (Kevin) Boss out their today?
Coach Jackson: I thought he was awesome. I mean for him to step in and walk right in; I mean we do a lot of different things on offense. He picked it up and I think as he goes every day; I think we are a couple days away at seeing Kevin (Boss) at his best. You know because once he learns the terminology, and learns his teammates, and Jason gets a feel for him and our other quarterbacks get a feel for him, that guy is a big target. I mean he is a big man. He is a pretty agile running up through there so it will be some good things there.
Q: Brought in a couple of receivers today...Is that an indication that we are obviously not going to see Darrius ( Heyward-Bey) and (Louis) Murphy is the first pre-season game so you just needed some guys out there?
Coach Jackson: No, we just needed more guys. It is not that we are not going to see anybody, we just needed more guys and that hasn't been determined. I think the key is that we have to be able to practice and as you guys see we practice pretty fast and really hard. So if you only have five guys it is hard for those five guys to keep taking a bunch of reps. The health of our football team is very important and we don't want to run the other guys that are practicing in the ground. And we also don't want to take a chance on the other guys by trying to get them back too fast. So we have to do a great job at that.
Q: Justin Smiley, no longer on the team?
Coach Jackson: Well, Justin Smiley has made a decision to retire and he has. What a man, he came in today to see me today and said, "Coach, this is just not for me, right now." And I respect that. The great thing about this place, as I told you, this is hard work. You know everybody can't do this. If your mind and body is not ready to do this on a daily basis, it is tough. You know and he said, "Coach, thanks for the opportunity, my heart is just not in it anymore…football. Nothing against you, the Raiders, or anything. Thanks for the opportunity but I just can't do this anymore." And I respect that.
Q: A lot of Stefen Wisniewski at Left guard today, is that something you are going to be doing all through training camp?
Coach Jackson: Absolutely.
Q: When do you think you need to make a decision which way he goes?
Coach Jackson: Again I am going to let these little pieces unfold. He is one of our better linemen. There is no question about that. He is doing a tremendous job and Sammy (Satele) is in there and right now I don't know exactly how all this is going to go. That is the beautiful part because we have the pieces but it is just getting all the pieces in the right spot and I think we will do that as we continue to move forward.
Q: How much of an acclimation period is it with Bush; you go more and more each day…
Coach Jackson: Absolutely, yeah; obviously I don't want to give him the full boat, you know. I don't want to take a chance with him. But I think as we keep moving forward each and every day we give him a little bit more and a little bit more until we get him to where he needs to be. I think the biggest thing for players right now is just I think out team is starting to get their legs back. They've been through that grind a little bit, it's a process. You've got to push them through that and then they'll come back and their legs will get back underneath them and they'll understand the tempo and all those things that happen on the football field and then you get your team. Do I think we're close? No, but I think we're not very far away when I say close, not very far away from that happening.
Q: Saw Bruce (Campbell) over there pushing some sleds and some dummies; when do you think he'll be back?
Coach Jackson: I think he's very close. I'm not going to guess what day, but when he gets out there, you'll see him out there. I think he's getting very close.
Q: Looked like (Darrius) Heyward-Bey was ready to get on the field but I didn't see him on there; is that you protecting him?
Coach Jackson: Yeah, absolutely. Again, until guys are totally healthy, I don't want to put them out there. I just think that's bad coaching on my part if I ask a guy to go do something he's not physically ready to do. I want to make sure guys are totally healthy; some guys you can go faster, some guys you have to take a little time with, but the most important thing is getting them out there when they're ready to play so that they can have the best chance of competing the way the Raiders compete.
Q: What are things you can do with (Rolando) McClain this year with another year of experience?
Coach Jackson: He's a tremendous football player; very smart, understands the game, thinks the game. What I'm trying to do is get him to understand that this defense flows through him, because he gets to see it all. Richard's [Seymour] a veteran, obviously, but McClain gets to see the offense; Richard's hand is down on the ground. This guy needs to be the unquestioned leader of our defensive football team and he should be, he can be, and that's what I expect him to be. And I'm always in his ear because I know what this young man can do. And he's a really good football player, but I'm asking him to be great. I'm not looking for him to be good. I want number 55 on this football team to be great.
Q: What happened with (Chaz) Schilens out there; seemed like he was a little slow to get up and then we didn't see him back in there with the first team.
Coach Jackson: Oh he was okay. It's like anything; you hit the ground pretty hard and I'm going to err on the side of caution with all of our players. I'm gentle with him; we just took him out and made sure he's okay. Right now if you have a little stinger, a little anything, you've got to make sure you're sure of it because you haven't been around the football team. And so that's all it is; we're going to be very cautious with this team until we get them to our medical staff, and I think we've got one of the greatest medical staffs in football, that I have to a great job of making sure these men are up and able to play each and every day.
Q: You said Michael means a lot to this team; can you articulate what? Obviously he brings a physical presence.
Coach Jackson: Because, you just said it, you can't do it with one guy. You said it best just then, he's a very physical football player. I think there are a lot of safeties in our division and the league that don't like running into him. He knows how to run the ball whether its outside, inside, everywhere. He knows what it takes to win up here, and Michael's going to contribute to this team and contribute well.
Q: Can you talk about what you've seen from Louis Rankin in training camp so far?
Coach Jackson: Louis Rankin has talent; obviously he's a guy that's been here before and I'll never forget that preseason game last year when we saw the ball going up the sideline and they said coach, "that's Louis Rankin, he used to be here," and he ran for a touchdown, and that's what I see on the field. He's elusive, he's tough, he's running physical, he hasn't missed a day, he's dependable, he's accountable, and that's what we're looking for, guys who can just keep going. And that's what he's doing and he's giving himself an opportunity to make this team.
Q: You described (Kevin) Boss as a big target; he seems pretty striking. There are a lot of big guys out there but he really stands out; how much of a weapon can that be?
Coach Jackson: Just throw it up there, let him go catch it. Just toss the ball up there and Boss catches the ball, okay, it's nice to have a guy like that. I haven't been around many guys that tall playing tight end. But not only is he tall, he can really catch the ball and he's very smart and I think he's a very good blocker. I'm going to see more as we go, but this guy has it, that's why we put him on this team; he has some skills and we're going to make sure we showcase those skills.
Q: How does Jason (Campbell) look to you?
Coach Jackson: How does he look? He looks like he took a day off the other day, that's all it was. It's like any player; you go and take a day off, you come back, and all of a sudden we throw a whole bunch of new offense at him and here we go. But Jason Campbell is the starter of this football team and doing great and leading this team. I'm excited about it and the thing I like most is sometimes it doesn't go right but Jason Campbell keeps his poise, and that's what a quarterback needs to do and your team's got to know that when things get a little off, he doesn't cave in. It's like I told you, give me the next play and let's go. And that's the way it should be, that's the type of quarterback I want on our team.
Q: What kind of adjustments or tactics have you had to use with the lack of double sessions this year?
Coach Jackson: Quite a few; It's called coaching. It's coaching 101 right now; we get out there and have a great walkthrough, we try to teach them in the morning and test them in the evening, but sometimes you've got to throw it all out the window and line up and play football. You've got to run into each other, because that's what this game is. I keep telling everybody that the team that we're trying to build here is not a team that, in my opinion, has been here the last eight years. We're going to be a tough, rugged football team that's going to walk with a swagger and plays the way the Raiders used to play. That's what I want, that's what I'll demand, and that's what my players are going to give me.