ESPN Analysts Starting to Catch Raider Fever, Plus Nnamdi Speaks Out

Bret ArmstrongAnalyst IAugust 19, 2009

NAPA, CA - AUGUST 05:  Nnamdi Asomugha #21 looks on during the Oakland Raiders Training Camp at the Napa Valley Marriott on August 5, 2009 in Napa, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

I tell you what Raider Nation, it has been a weird two days on ESPN.

The first interview I watched was based on the Tom Cable-Randy Hanson situation. ESPN's Mark Schlereth, a former Denver Broncos' offensive lineman, spoke up with respect to Tom Cable, a former lineman coach.

Schlereth said he talked to Tom Cable over the phone, and the Raiders' coach said, "it was absolutely ridiculous, there is no truth to any of these things that are going out and flying was a heated discussion."

Schlereth said he believed the coach, and continued on to say that the situation could "galvanize (this) team together."

He said, "I’ve seen coaches go after each other," and that sometimes teams bond over things like this. He also said that, "you’re going to have this in all sports.”

Schlereth said if coach Cable gets his staff and players rallying around him in this situation that it could build strong team unity, and be a good thing for their franchise.

He also said, and I quote, "the Raiders, right now, are the second best team in their division."

What happened to this former Bronco? When did he jump onto the bandwagon? I'm not complaining, I like Mark. I hope he continues to say good things like this, I'm just curious as to when it became ok to be in the Raiders organization again.

Today, I heard a radio interview today with ESPN's AFC West blogger, Bill Williamson, on Football Today with Jeremy Green. It was a showdown type interview with NFC West blogger, Mike Sando, pitting this weekend's match-up, Raiders vs. 49ers.

Williamson said a lot of positive things about Oakland as well.

One of the things he said was that Oakland tailback, "(Darren) McFadden is a special guy."

He was asked who he thought was a better player between Darren McFadden and Patrick Willis, the San Francisco 49ers middle linebacker, Bill stated that there would be "more McFadden jerseys worn in this country next year than Patrick Willis."

He said with Justin Fargas and Michael Bush behind him, who are special in their own right, and bring a different style of play-making to the table, "Oakland has a chance to have the best running game in football.”

Mind you, he said "the best," not one of the best or top ten, but "the best."

Williamson said he thinks the Raiders will have a better record than the 49ers this year, "because they are tough, and the coach is tough." He said that a final record of 8-8 would be a major improvement for the team, and he doesn't see them making the playoffs this year.

He did, however, say that, "In a couple of years, this is gonna be a tough division (AFC West).”

He said that over their losing time, since 2003, the Raiders have added some good young players. He stated that they now have a nice core of good, young, talented players.

As for the Cable-Hanson situation, Williamson said he doesn't think anything will happen as far as Oakland is concerned, although he thinks fines and maybe a one-game suspension could be handed down from the league, if there is any wrongdoing found in the NFL investigation.

He added that with these allegations, Oakland has set a tone for their season, and everyone in Oakland is having fun with the situation.

Bill said that JaMarcus Russell, "has a chance to be very good." He said Russell will have better long-term capabilities than Shaun Hill, and former Niners No. 1 pick Alex Smith.

He continued on to say that the Raiders have a better quarterback situation with Russell and veteran QB Jeff Garcia, than the 49ers current situation with Shaun Hill and Alex Smith.

Williamson doesn’t see teams sharing a new stadium. He said the fans wouldn't go for it. He said it's odd that the only state with three NFL teams has the three worst stadiums in the league.

On another note, I read an interview from today with Pro Bowl corner back, and arguably one of the best players in the NFL in 2009, Nnamdi Asomugha.

Asomugha said that in spite of being disenchanted midway throughout the season last year, after the release of teammate DeAngelo Hall, he stayed in Oakland because he, “felt like we were heading in the right direction. I think a lot of time (in previous years) we were losing coaches, and other guys weren’t able to develop the chemistry that they wanted to. I felt like we had the talent to win games but we just needed a little more consistency so that it could bring a little more continuity.

‘Then they decided to keep the staff we had last year, as far as the head coach. I felt that was a good step for us because it gave us that consistency that we needed to grow, especially for some of our younger players, like our quarterback and some other guys out there. They needed consistency in order to develop their games.”

Nnamdi was asked what has changed as far as Tom’s camp compared to other coaches camps.

“Right now I think it’s helped a lot. First, we have to get into the season and see what happens from that point, but as of right now, I’m all for change. Tom Cable runs a different training camp. He stresses in the beginning of the camp the mental aspect of camp, as opposed to the physical, so that we’re not out there getting injured and trying too hard physically and forgetting our assignments mentally. One of the problems in the past was discipline and focus.”

Nnamdi said he is excited about going into this season because of the talent level around him, and the coaching staff. He believes they have a chance to prove the odds wrong. He said he hopes the team will, “(take) it one game at a time, one step at a time and gradually grow.”

He said he feels more comfortable this year because it isn’t a contract year. I hope that doesn't mean he is going to take a break from being a shutdown corner if things don't work out well this season, we'll see.

Here is what Nnamdi said about starting quarterback, JaMarcus Russell, “He’s one of those guys that really wants to succeed in this league. As long as he continues doing that, he’ll improve. His reads are getting quicker; he’s putting a better touch on the ball. He’s got to translate that into games now.”

He was asked what it feels like to be in the spotlight this year, as opposed to under the radar in the last few years.

He replied, "I think it’s nice. You always want to go out and earn the respect of not only your peers and colleagues and coaches around the league, but also from the fans. I know a lot of times (they see that you have a million-dollar contract), but you’re not going to go out there making a million plays.”

Please, Mr. Asomugha, can you please go out and make a million plays this year, it's all I want for Christmas, thanks.

That's all I got for now folks, see you on the flip-side.



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