On Tuesday at their Alameda Practice Facility, the Oakland Raiders were in their third day of preparation for their Monday Night Football opener against the San Diego Chargers.
Head Coach Tom Cable is putting things in perspective for his players concerning Monday night's game.
"One, I think the most important thing is that it is a divisional game. Those are big deals to us. Two, it is a chance for us to come out and put out who we are for the first time in 2009 and show how far we have come." Coach Cable said.
With the lights turned on and in front of a raucous crowd, the 2009 edition of the Oakland Raiders will show the Raider Nation and the rest of country what they have been working hard to create with Organized Team Activities, Mini-Camp and Training Camp.
Coach Cable says, "Every one of these is like gold. It doesn't matter if it is Monday, Sunday, or Thursday. You just want to go out and be 1 – 0. They are just all so important to get to where you want to get."
Starting outside linebacker Thomas Howard knows the importance of the game and how it can set the tone for the rest of the year. "We have to go out there and make a statement. Let everyone know what this team is all about. Monday night is our stage. It's going to be a big game for us. We are just working hard everyday," Howard stated.
Louis Murphy was a member of the 2007 and 2009 BCS National Championship teams at Florida and he says he feels prepared for the stage that Monday night's game presents.
"Playing in a lot of big games has helped me on the field. Just be calm, let the game come to you. Don't rush anything. I am fortunate and blessed to have those opportunities, but I know Monday night will be a completely different atmosphere. I think college has prepared me," Murphy said.
Since his arrival in Oakland for OTA's in May, Murphy has done his best to learn the playbook and get accustomed to JaMarcus Russell's rocket arm.
"I can't even imagine just coming in right now and trying to learn the offense and learn to catch a ball from JaMarcus. A lot of the work in the summer time helped a lot. We just continue to drill it over and over again so I can get used to it." Murphy explained.
Another player entering this season with a new perspective is fullback Oren O'Neal.
O'Neal is the team's starting fullback after spending the entire 2008 season on injured reserve with a knee injury. The third-year player out of Arkansas State has spent the past 10 months rehabbing his knee and says he now feels better than ever.
"When I got hurt it was a devastating injury. I read in the paper the next day that it's possibly career threatening and you're thinking about that while you are on the doctor's table, it made me want to grind and get back. Rehab went well. The doctors did a great reconstruction. I made the roster and I'm feeling great on the field. No pain," O'Neal said.
As soon as he put on his cleats after rehab he knew he was back to 100 percent. "I knew that I was going to be okay the first day I got on the field. When I was able to put cleats on and cut and plant with no problem, I knew that I going to be okay," O'Neal said.
The Raiders have Wednesday off, but will be back on the field Thursday to continue to prepare for Monday night's game.