NAPA — Blitzers steaming toward the quarterback without anyone impeding their progress was a common scene against the Raiders in recent seasons. But coach Tom Cable has mandated that his running backs stick their noses in harm's way, regardless the size of the defender.
That was evident Saturday when running back Darren McFadden flattened 310-pound defensive end Ryan Boschetti just as Boschetti closed in on quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. The impact knocked Boschetti off his feet and sent him crashing to the ground, to the delight of his teammates, as well as Cable.
"We need to have good protection," Cable said. "Obviously, we like the skill we have to throw the ball with now, but by design we want to get them more involved, not just as receivers, but also as protectors."
Cable said playing running back for the Raiders entails sacrificing your body at times. The days of seeing a running back such as LaMont Jordan sidestepping Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman are over.
"Those guys can't play for us," Cable said. "We got to have that guy that isn't afraid to do what he's got to do for his team to succeed. And if I'm a tailback and I've got to go block a 350-pound guy, I've got to do that. Don't like it, don't want to make a living doing that, but every once in a while you got to clean it up."
Cable for the first time let on that wide receiver Javon Walker has a firm date to return to practice.
Walker is recovering from April surgery on his right knee, and he is rehabilitating away from the team's practices each day.
"There's a protocol that we're following that was set as a date," Cable said. "And that is still out there, 10 days, two weeks away. But his progress, obviously, it doesn't go unnoticed. We all know that he's really coming on, so we just let it run its course. We don't want to do anything that would set it back. That procedure was a major deal. So, we want to take care of it."
Quarterback Jeff Garcia said his strained right calf is getting better and that he is hopeful of returning to practice within two or three days. "It's getting better every day," said Garcia, who has missed about a week. "It's just one of those things not wanting to rush back too soon and (having) a setback." "... Left offensive tackle Khalif Barnes (ankle), offensive lineman Mark Wilson (back), offensive lineman Paul McQuistan (knee), left guard Robert Gallery (appendectomy), Walker and Garcia missed practice. "... The Raiders' second practice took place at the Oakland Coliseum as part of the Raider Nation Celebration. That enabled fans to see the 2009 Raiders for the first time in a formal setting.
— Steve Corkran