Head Coach Hue Jackson. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q:What did you think of [Jacoby] Ford?
Coach Jackson:I thought it was a good start for him. He had an opportunity to do some things today, move around and I think that's a start. We'll just keep going through the week and we'll see where he is tomorrow and keep going forward.
Q:How much team stuff was he able to do?
Coach Jackson:He was able to do some. I mean, I don't want to push him too far just yet. It's just good to get him back out there and then I'll slowly tomorrow see where he is, see if he's sore or what's going on and we'll just kind of go from there.
Q:Do you think it'll be a reach to think he can be returning kickoffs or is that something you'll wait and see?
Coach Jackson:I'll probably wait to see, but I don't know that I feel comfortable with that yet, you know, myself. So again, he'll obviously if he has an opportunity to play I'm going to put him out there but I have got to make sure he's healthy. I just don't want to put him out there and put him in a bad situation.
Q:Hue, how hard has Ford been lobbying to get playing time?
Coach Jackson:Oh, he wants to play there's no question about that. I mean, like I told you, the guy's out there he wants to play. He wants to play, but again I got to do what's best for this football team. We have a huge game, I think we all understand that and the most important thing is to put him in the best situation and our team in the best situation to win a game.
Q:You say a huge game and everybody realizes could get in the playoffs, at least get a winning record, do you approach it differently and do you try to keep the players just thinking it's a game?
Coach Jackson:Well, I mean it is a game, but it's a big game because we're in it. It is the Raiders against the Chargers and that's as big as it gets. There is a lot riding on this game and I think we all understand that so, to a man, to a coach, to a trainer, to equipment people, to everybody within this organization, this game is as big as they get and we're looking forward to playing.
Q:What about Darren [McFadden] now, does he have to get out here either tomorrow or the next day or is there a chance that he could miss all week and show up at the game?
Coach Jackson:That's not in me.He could show up at the game, but that doesn't necessarily mean that I would want to play him. I mean I think a player needs to be practicing. I'd love to have all of our guys back, but again, you can only win with healthy players and when I say healthy I mean guys that are practicing and contributing and you get to see them do things. He needs to be out here doing that and until he does that I'm not going to worry about it.
Q:We talked on Monday about how this was new territory for anybody that's been with the Raiders for a long time to have a chance to go to the playoffs in the last game of the season. Now you got to see them at practice for the first time preparing for that game; what did you see?
Coach Jackson:I think it's a football team that understands the opportunity. I think they know what's at stake here and you can't get it any better than that but with that being said we know we got to go play the game. This is practice, all practice does is give you the opportunity to get to the game on Sunday and play well. But it starts out here, it starts in our meetings, it starts on the practice field, and then we got to go finish it on game day.
Q:What's Richard's [Seymour] issue?
Coach Jackson:Richard's just sick. Richards fine. Richard's going to be alright.
Q:Thoughts on the Chargers, it's been a while since you've played them?
Coach Jackson:Yes, I think they're very talented. I think they're better than what people are putting out there about them. You know that 'oh they're not very talented' or 'they're not going to play' or this or that, I'm tired of hearing that. I mean that's a very good football team with very good players, with a quarterback that's unbelievable, with skill players and defensive players and they're going to be different then the first time we played them and hopefully we're different then the first time we played them too. This is a good team, it's a heck of a rivalry and they're going to come to play and we're going to come to play and we're going to have to play our best to win the game.
Q:They just took apart Baltimore two weeks ago, which is one of the better teams in the league, what did you see when you looked at that film?
Coach Jackson:I saw a team that played really good, that's very capable. That's what I'm saying. I mean everybody writes them off for dead. I know what that felt like because I've heard that about our team three weeks ago. So I don't pay attention to any of that, what we need to do is play our best football game this Sunday. That's going to be a very good football team that come in here to play and they're going to be ready to play and we'll be ready to play.
Q:How has [Jared] Gaither helped to solidify their line?
Coach Jackson:He's done good. Jared's a good player. You know we brought him in ourselves to take a good look at him and obviously it didn't work out for us and then he went to Kansas City and then he's playing good for them right now I know that. He's got long arms, he's athletic and he's tough. That's one thing I do know about Jared Gaither and he'll come to this game and he'll be ready to play.
Q:Is there anything that sticks out as to why you've done so well against the Chargers in the last three games in particular?
Coach Jackson:No, I just think when it comes down to it we've played good on that particular day; we played better than they did. When it comes to it, any game you win, and I think you guys know this, if you play good enough on that day when the games played then you got an opportunity to win and that's what it comes down to.
Q:Chargers had won thirteen in a row against the Raiders, a lot of it to do with the fact that they were able to run the ball and with confidence and have a good running game. Last three games you guys have won, I think they're averaging like 60 yards on the ground or something like that. For all the trouble that you guys have had in the ground you've been pretty good against San Diego.
Coach Jackson:Huge, maybe there's a correlation to that. I mean they're going to try to run it and we've got to get it stopped. I think our team understands that and the defense has played good against Philip [Rivers]. Philip is a good player and I think we know that. We got to play better then we've ever played because he can get hot and there's no stopping him and we have to play as well as we can play on offense. We need to be better then we've been all year in all areas. You know, I keep saying the key to our having an opportunity to represent the West or get in the playoffs or anything, is we got to not turn the ball over, we have to get turnovers on defense, and we have to eliminate the penalties. We have to do a better job then what we've done and we got to play good on special teams, that's what's going to give us the opportunity to win the game.
Q:In a sense after Jason [Campbell] got injured, you went and got Carson [Palmer] hoping he could get you to this point, he's struggled a little bit, do you think he can get it over?
Coach Jackson:He has to. There's no other alternative, he has to and this is a great opportunity to do it here at home. So, that's why we made the trade is to have this opportunity just as you're saying, I mean if not, then why do it? It's about winning and we have a chance to win a huge football game this weekend, this Sunday, and we need to go play well.
Q:Thoughts on your Pro Bowlers?
Coach Jackson:Oh man, I'm excited for them, happy for them, I wish we had more. The one guy that I wish that was a first-time ballot guy is Tommy Kelly. Tommy Kelly's had a heck of a year. He's played extremely consistent and hard and you guys know how I feel about Tyvon Branch. I wish Darren was still playing because I think he would have blown the whole thing out the water, I really do. I'm happy for Marcel and obviously, but when I look at those other guys you can't say any more about [Sebastian] Janikowski. I mean, he's deserving, has been deserving. I'm surprised that this is his first opportunity, but maybe it'll be sweeter for him. But here's the deal, we keep talking about guys going to Pro Bowl, [Shane] Lechler and those guys and Seymour, but I don't want them playing in the Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl is before the Super Bowl. I had to catch myself, I'm saying, 'Oh they'll represent us well over in Hawaii.' I don't want them to be in Hawaii. I want us to be preparing for that other game if we have the opportunity to do so. So, at the end of the day, I'm happy for those guys, but they're just like me, they want to be playing for that big trophy that at the end, if we get that opportunity, if we're blessed to have that chance, that's what we want to do.
Q:How do you guard against a game like this where the Chargers don't have anything to play for in terms of the playoffs, them being more apt to gamble, they could do a lot of things that they wouldn't have done a couple months ago against you guys?
Coach Jackson:I don't think that's true. I think they're going to come with their guns blazing. I think we're going to see it all. You do everything you can to win the game, that's what Norv's [Turner] about. They're not coming in here doing anything else, they're coming to win and whatever it takes, whatever they think it's going to take to win, that's what they're going to do. We have to be on our P's and Q's and with that being said, we're going to do everything we have to do that it takes to win the game also. We're going to play, we're not going to sit there guarding anything other than we're going to try to do everything we can to win this football game and I know they will be too. So its going to be a chess match all the way around, but it's going to be one exciting football game.
Q:You've been around pro football other games, pro athletes no matter what the situation is go out and try to play hard. They're own psyche, people watching them and their pride?
Coach Jackson:Absolutely. I know everybody says well people lay down and people don't want to play. I don't believe that. I don't believe that at all. I think these men get paid and they're paid for performance and I think they understand that and they represent their name, their own name that's on their back, and this organization and I think you have a duty to play as hard as you can play because that's what you do, that's what pro football players do. So I think all that the guys are not doing this or doing that, I don't believe that. I think this team is going to come in here and play extremely hard and they're going to do everything they can to win the game and we have to play extremely hard and do everything we can to win the game and that's what pro football is truly all about.
Q:Do you sense these last three wins against San Diego that you guys have been a physically tougher team, do you get that sense that you guys have kind of asserted your will a little bit?
Coach Jackson:We won the game that's all I know and that's all I look for. However we've done it really doesn't matter to me. I just know what this team here at the Raiders needs to do to win and we need to play mistake-free football to give ourselves a chance to win.
Q:A lot of talk during the season it's all about how the teams are meshing at the end, how do you feel Carson [Palmer] coming in the middle of the season where you are as a team?
Coach Jackson:Well, I think we're getting there. We're getting healthier and I think that's important because I think a lot of things go into that. We're getting a little healthier in spots. I think Carson's more comfortable. I think the team understands me. I think they know how to prepare and get ready. I think we've been through some tough times together and we've been through some good times together, and now hopefully we can get on a run here and play the way I know this team can play. I still haven't seen this team play its best football game. So it's still all out in front of us and I think we understand that, but boy, if we can get healthy and if we can go play the way I think we can play, I think the sky is the limit for this organization.
Q:With McFadden, do you check in with the medical staff every day and they say not today, or how does that work before practice?
Coach Jackson:I check in with them and I just look in their eyes and I can tell myself. I just go the other way. I mean I see Darren and I talk to Darren quite a bit, but I just again, I think it's very important that we get healthy players out here. He's just not ready yet, and he's getting closer, I keep telling you guys, he's getting much closer. But at the end of the day, to do what he does and as fast as Darren runs, and as violent as Darren runs, you got to make sure you're healthy. You can't just go out there and wobble and run around and jog through it, you have got to be able to run through it and he's not ready yet and that's okay.
Q:Has that expression changed at all this last week or is it always the same? When you look at the staff to see it in their eyes?
Coach Jackson:It's better. That expression is much better. It's just not where it needs to be, it's not that 'here we go.' But we're getting there and he's more confident so we're getting closer but not there yet and that's okay.