Some players relax in the hot tub. Others play games or listen to music. Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha uses his lunch break between practices for what he terms a "therapy" session with safety Michael Huff.

It's a practice that dates to Huff's rookie season in 2006, when it became apparent that success for Huff in the NFL was going to be much harder to come by than it was at the University of Texas.

Those one-on-one sessions continue to this day and, finally, Huff is reaping the dividends from learning the hard-earned lessons from a player who traveled a similar path before he attained stardom.

"It was very identical what we both went through," Asomugha said about himself and Huff. "But it's something you have to deal with. It's one of those things going into it; you know there's going to be a lot of expectations. You're a first-round pick; there's going to be a lot of pressure on you to make plays. So, of course it's going to affect you mentally sometimes."

Sure, there were times when Huff got down, wondered whether he ever would validate the Raiders' selection of him with the seventh pick of the 2006 NFL draft, Asomugha said.

Through it all, Huff never let it show. He didn't point a finger at someone else. He didn't complain about former coaches Art Shell and Lane Kiffin playing him out of position. He didn't lash out at current coach Tom Cable for benching him last season.


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Instead, Huff accepted responsibility for his inconsistent play, the missed open-field tackles and his failure to produce at a level commensurate with his first-round status.

"That is not Michael Huff," Cable said. "Michael Huff is a man's man. ... You won't get any bologna from a guy like Mike. He's what you are supposed to be about."

Through two games this season Huff is the playmaker the Raiders envisioned when they drafted him. He is tied for the league lead with three interceptions, recovered a fumble and sealed Oakland's lone victory by breaking up a pass on a fourth-down play. He has accomplished all this in a reserve role, no less.

"I try not to get too riled up about the first two games," Huff said. "I want to go out there and be consistent and prove it week in and week out."

That's where Asomugha, a first-round draft pick out of Cal in 2003, comes in. After all, he knows what Huff is going through. He bounced between safety and cornerback his first three NFL seasons, and criticism was a constant companion.

In his fourth season, everything clicked. Asomugha intercepted eight passes and served notice he had arrived. Two years later, Asomugha was considered by many the best cornerback in the league, selected to his first Pro Bowl, named All-Pro and rewarded with a two-year contract and $28.5 million guaranteed.

Huff readily admits he struggled from the outset and that he deserved to be benched. He also said he knew the day would come when he put it all together.

"At first, it was definitely tough," Huff said. "I knew I wasn't playing as good as I wanted to play, but I knew at the end of the day ... that if I keep working hard, everything would take care of itself."

Note: Huff took all the reps with the first-team defense Wednesday. Free safety Hiram Eugene's right foot is in a protective boot, and he wasn't able to practice. Eugene is questionable for Sunday's game against Denver.