QB Jason Campbell speaks to the media following practice. Photo by Tony Gonzales
Q: How is the offense coming along?
Campbell: Guys are out here practicing really hard, everyone is putting in the work. We understand it's a big game Monday night and not just the first game of the season, but it's a division opponent. We want to make sure we get started off on the right foot. It's been awhile since the Raiders won an opening day game so we're just trying to come out and do everything we possibly can to go win.
Q: Do you feel more prepared, in command, in control of a system and a team than at any point in your career?
Campbell: Coaches do a good job preparing us and getting us ready. You see out here today in practice guys who are trying to limit mistakes, limit the penalties and try to work on things that we need to do to improve as a whole team, but at the same time, I do feel more comfortable, in command. A lot of it has to do with stability. A lot of it has to do with knowing the offense and being able to just play. I think Coach Jackson does a great job implementing that into me. Coach Saunders, I had the opportunity to work with before. So it's familiarity with me.
Q: What's happening here at night? Do you feel different? Do you think it's making what Hue wanted to make out of it?
Campbell: Yeah, if you think about it, when you practice under the lights it's a little different than the daytime, especially for receivers and DBs. The ball gets in the air and you have to be able to focus through the lights and be able to see the ball and make the catch or make the interception. Sometimes you take those little things for granted, but at the same time, all the receivers have said it is really helping them because it's different.
Q: What do you think has to happen to take the passing game to the next step?
Campbell: Being more consistent, pass protection, me making the right reads, getting the ball out of my hand quickly and it's just catching the ball. All those things work hand in hand and we're all in this thing to help improve the offense. I definitely feel like we will improve this season.
Q: How's the continuity with the offense with so many guys being in and out?
Campbell: It's a tough thing. In training camp, you lose some guys and you're not able to build that chemistry with them because they're out and they can't practice. At the same time, we continue to say, the next man step up. Some of the other guys during the course of the season, injuries happen, but this gives guys the opportunity to step up and make plays and see what they can do. Hopefully our experience together, even though we haven't been able to practice together as much, will take over for us.
Q: How exciting is it to think about all the offensive players coming together finally?
Campbell: It's exciting. Training camp we were like, 'what's going on? Do we have the bug or something?' It was one man after another man. Obviously, we are getting a lot of our guys back and it'll be nice when we continue to get everyone back and continue to put this puzzle together, put the pieces together. I think we are on to something on offense because we are a young group, but we're a young group that has been working together for awhile now and I think Monday night and the games to come, just experience. The first game may not be all you think it should be when you first go out there. But you want to go out there and make it as close to possible as we can until we're where we want to be. And then you keep improving week to week. The guys that are out there, guys like [Brandon] Myers and 17 [Denarius Moore] getting the opportunity to step up and make plays. Those guys, to them, it's an opportunity to show what they can actually do.
Q: How much fun is it as quarterback to have as much speed as you have out there at running back and receiver?
Campbell: We have a lot of speed, everyone knows that. We are a team that drafts speed. One thing we have to do, we're not just speed guys, but our guys are pretty physical. They like that assignment, they like to go out and show that they're physical too. They're not just fast guys. I think our receivers do a great job from the standpoint of blocking for the running game when they don't have the ball in their hands. The running backs do the same thing for the receivers, catching the ball out of the backfield, going downfield making blocks. One thing I'm excited about this team is what you see in practice. There's no one half-stepping anything, no one slow jogging. Everyone is moving around with a quickness and with a purpose.
Q: Last year was two blowout victories for you guys against Denver. How much do you put that into this mix now?
Campbell: You don't because last year was last year. Every year is a different year. Every year you have to refocus. Every team is different and you have to continue to build and continue to grow, but you don't go out there this year looking for the same thing last season. It's a new year. They have a new team and a new defensive coordinator, new head coach, they're different. They have [Elvis] Dumervil on one side and [Von] Miller on the other side, so they're a different defense than they were a year ago. You don't look at it from year. Every year is different.
Q: Last year they plugged in [Jared] Veldheer I think week 7. You have this Division II rookie thrown into the NFL and he held up pretty well the rest of the year. Now he's the established left tackle for you guys. How confident are you that that is the guy that's protecting your blind side?
Campbell: Last season he was a rookie and we plugged him in and we had confidence in him a year ago just because he's a physical guy. As a quarterback I don't think you can ask for just 100 percent effort to block for you and that's what he does each and every time he steps on the field. We are all going to make mistakes, we're all going to miss some every now and then, but he's a guy that gets fired up about it. If he makes a mistake he'll step back up the next play and give us an opportunity to make a big play.
Q: How comfortable are you with your passing game?
Campbell: What was it? 10th ranked scoring offense in the league last year? I think the Raiders went from like 31 to 10? We are making improvements in a little different ways. Our rushing game was number two in the league last year and our passing game wasn't where we wanted it to be, but sometimes something has to give when one is up there and the other one is not. We were a rushing team, but I think our guys will step up and make plays. Our young receivers I think are maturing, are growing, and I think they're getting a grasp of the new system and everything we've been running. The only thing you can do is ask for an opportunity and continue to get better from week to week and from year to year. I think myself along with those guys having experience for another year together is going to give us the opportunity to take that next step.
Q: Are you looking forward to when teams put eight in the box and give you a chance to pick people apart with the passing game?
Campbell: I always look forward to every play whether there's eight people in the box, nine people in the box or whether it's cover two. You have to make a play when you're playing in this position. I just want to go out there and make each play. I'm looking at it play to play. My goal for each play is to make that play work 100 percent successfully and then you go from there. We do have a strong run game so you are going to get eight in the box most of the time and that creates opportunities for our receivers and myself to make plays and we have to make them. At the same time, everything goes hand in hand.