Quarterback Jason Campbell's acclimation to the West Coast has been a smooth one, thanks in no small part to the presence of tight end Zach Miller.
Campbell latched on to Miller as a security blanket of sorts as soon as he stepped on the field a week after the Washington Redskins traded him to the Raiders in April. It's a relationship that figures to help both players prosper this season.
Raiders coach Tom Cable talks up his wide receivers at every turn as emerging talents. Yet, as their progress moves along at a slower-than-hoped-for pace, it's apparent Miller again will be the focal point of the passing game.
"There's a comfort level there with both of them, whether it be in third down or the red zone," Cable said. "Certainly Zach and Jason's relationship is flourishing."
Miller, 24, set a Raiders rookie tights ends record with 44 receptions in 2007. He increased his catch totals and receiving yards each of the past two seasons.
However, there's a widespread belief that Miller's stats would be far more impressive if he had a quarterback other than JaMarcus Russell throwing him the ball, as was the case most of the past two seasons.
That's where Campbell enters the picture. He has a long history of relying on his tight end, especially on third-down plays and near the goal line. It's one of the qualities that endeared him to Cable when the Redskins offered him in a trade.
"If you think about where Jason came from, he had a tight end out there in (Chris) Cooley that he had a nice bond with," Cable said. "It was probably a natural deal for him to come out here and get hooked up with Zach."
Campbell said he felt the connection from the first time he worked with Miller.
"Everyone knows he's a supreme talent at tight end," Campbell said. "He's just like Cooley, a guy that helped us stretch the field in Washington because of his ability to make plays. Zach has that same type of mentality, so I look forward to connecting with him."
Miller caught 66 passes for 805 yards last season but scored only three touchdowns as teams often double-teamed him near the goal line. Cable and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson have made freeing up Miller a top priority, be it through a more potent running game or designing plays to getting Miller into the end zone.
"He can be a lot better," Cable said. "When you look at him, we have done a poor job of utilizing him in the red zone. So, if you just start right there, see where he would impact that part of the field, that would really raise his game to a whole new level."
Miller hasn't had any difficulty scoring in practices throughout training camp, even when the defense realized the ball was coming was his way.
"That's one of the biggest things we have to get done," Miller said. "If you look around, tight ends are huge in the red zone on the other teams. ... You see other tight ends in the league scoring a lot of touchdowns and you get a little envious. You want to be in there celebrating the touchdowns.
"This year, finally, will be the year it comes. With an improved offense, and improved passing game, we'll have more chances in the red zone."
Notes: Campbell was in full uniform but didn't participate in Tuesday's practice. The Raiders are taking the cautious approach with their starting quarterback, who suffered neck and wrist injuries against the 49ers on Saturday. ... Running back Michael Bush (broken left thumb) was a no-show. He was scheduled for surgery Monday. Cable said he wasn't at liberty to confirm Bush's surgery or comment on injuries. Bush said on Twitter that he had the surgery. ... The Raiders cut tight end Eric Butler to reach the 75-player roster limit. They have until Saturday to get down to 53.