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Raiders: Tom Cable Conference Call

Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable addresses the New England media during his conference call on Wednesday, December 10, 2008.

Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable addresses the New England media during his conference call on Wednesday, December 10, 2008.

Q: Can you talk about Matt Cassel and maybe the progress you've seen from looking at film?

TC: Well, the thing that impresses you is the way the players around him have stepped up. They've got good players at tight end, at wide receiver, in the backfield, and a good offensive line, and you see that everybody has raised their level of play around him. I think that has allowed him to develop and make the tremendous improvement that he's made.

Q: Can you talk about your own guy, JaMarcus Russell?

TC: He started out with some struggles, like you would expect every guy to do that's really playing for the first time. Then he got into a month there were [he] really improved every game; you saw it in practice, you saw it on game day. Three out of the last four games we've played he's thrown 68 percent completion, so there're some real positives going on there. At the same time, he's still growing and he's still learning

Q: I assume he's coming off that ankle injury and OK to play this week?

TC: Yes.

Q: Is it difficult this time of year to keep people inspired when you're 3-10?

TC: I think it really reflects your character. How you play and how you prepare, the effort that you give these last three weeks will be a real reflection of our character as an organization, as football players and as football coaches.

Q: And certainly there are players who are playing for beyond this year.

TC: And that's kind of the message to them. They're playing for something, whether it's—we're out of the playoff race, obviously—but you're playing for something: your future. You're playing for another contract, your next move in free agency, whatever that is. So I think there is a lot, perso

NA:lly, for guys to play for.

Q: How do you defend Randy Moss and Wes Welker?

TC: Well, we're not sure yet. They're both very, very good players. Randy [Moss] is in his own world many times, and [Wes] Welker is the guy who does all the dirty work. [He has] tremendous quickness, unbelievable ball skills, so we've got our hands full.

Q: When you see an almost 40-year-old Junior Seau come back and play literally right off the street and play almost 50 percent of the s

NA:ps, what do you think?

TC: You're talking about a guy who was a great, great player. You just turn on the film and watch him making plays last week. He's played so much and done this so long that really, he's programmed and he's had great training. It is extraordi

NA:ry for him to come off whatever he was doing and step on the field and start making plays like he did, but he's a great player, he always has been, and you've just got to tip your hat to him.

Q: Do you have to assume that the Patriot defense will plug the holes?

TC: You have to. They've done it every week they've lost somebody, someone has plugged in. They really just kind of have been steady. They're very fundamentally sound, they're very physical. I don't think you can make that team

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