RAIDERS DEFENSIVE TACKLE Tommy Kelly is getting paid handsomely to work in the yard on these hot days. But all he seems to be doing is watching the grass grow.
The Raiders need a bigger presence from Kelly. They need him to either stuff running lanes or slam down an awe-inspiring quarterback.
The Raiders vs. New Orleans Saints was an embarassing display Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum. The Raiders fell behind 31-0 by halftime, and Kelly typified the Raiders' inability to make a play, on defense, offense or special teams, for that matter.
Sound the 0-16 bell!
In contrast to Kelly, the Washington Redskins got their money's worth Friday night from their highly paid defensive tackle, Albert Haynesworth, who drilled New England Patriots' Tom Brady into the ground and injured Brady's golden shoulder.
"I mean, it wasn't like I was hitting Gisele or something. He's the quarterback. It was good, it was fine," Haynesworth told the Washington Post. "I mean, I was trying to tackle him, but I wasn't trying to hurt him. I'm not that type of player, you know? I'm actually a big Tom Brady fan.
"... If I had to hit him again, I would hit him again," added Haynesworth, who received a NFL-record $41 million guaranteed as part of the $100 million, seven-year deal that wooed him from the Tennessee Titans. "That's my job. That's what they brought me here to do."
What is Kelly doing here with the Raiders? Well, beside from cashing in on that ludicrous contract he was awarded before last season. Even though he was coming off ACL surgery, Kelly reportedly landed a seven-year, $50.5 million contract, including $18.125 million guaranteed.
He was to replace Warren Sapp with a play-making presence on the defensive line. But Kelly had only 4 ½ sacks last season. When his name finally got mentioned after a play on the Coliseum loudspeakers Saturday, it was for making a third-down tackle (on a 10-yard gain).
On back-to-back goal-line plays after the two-minute warning, Kelly got faceplanted and driven into the turf by the Saints' backup right guard, Tim Duckworth. That's embarrassing. So was the score: 31-0 after a 1-yard touchdown run by P.J. Hill.
Both Kelly and Haynesworth are about 6-foot-6, 320 pounds. Kelly was an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State in 2004; Haynesworth a first-round selection out of Tennessee in 2002.
Singling out Kelly may seem unfair, and perhaps it is during an exhibition game in which so many of his teammates played sloppily and inexcusably. But the third exhibition affords starters their most meaningful minutes, and if this is the best Kelly & Co. can do in their warm-up for a pivotal start to the regular season vs. three AFC West foes, the Raiders are so in trouble..
Other quick observations from the first half of Saturday's game (because, unless you're getting paid Tommy Kelly money, why stick around for the second half?):
-- Quarterback JaMarcus Russell had a very typical performance. He started out swiftly with back-to-back completions. Then he got sacked and fumbled the ball after holding the ball way too long in the pocket. He was 9 of 14 for 86 yards with no interceptions, no touchdowns and three sacks.
-- Left guard Robert Gallery perhaps showcased the most leadership seen on the Raiders in years. What was so big? He simply huddled up the entire offense for a pep talk on the sideline late in the first half, with the Raiders getting shut out 24-0. Maybe his motivational words carried over to the Raiders' defense, because Hiram Eugene made an interception on the next play.
-- Saints quarterback Drew Brees (surely thankful he wasn't facing Haynesworth) is phenomenal. He ranks right up there with Peyton Manning and Brady, who also would look phenomenal in the Saints' high-scoring offense. Brees was 14 of 17 for 179 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
-- Rookie defensive tackle Desmond Bryant had a nice first-half sack, dashing into the pocket so fast he looked like a linebacker wearing No. 57 instead of a lineman in No. 67.
-- Raiders' defensive line coach Dwaine Board is at least trying to tutor his unit. Board repeatedly chatted up Kelly, Gerard Warren, etc.
-- Aside from cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, who had a nice hit to break up a pass, the Raiders' best defender looks to be newly acquired defensive end Greg Ellis. He knows how to play his position, at least in terms of pass-rushing from the left edge.
-- The Raiders got booed off the field by the crowd, which we'll estimate at 10,000, and none of whom we noticed wore a Tommy Kelly replica jersey.
Look for Cam Inman's Web-only "Candid Cam" takes whenever there's a breaking sports story, or whenever Cam's got something to say _ in short, just about every day. You can reach Cam at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/CamInman.