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Oakland Raiders tight end Tony Stewart, left, and offensive tackle Robert Gallery (76) celebrate with wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, top, following his touchdown-reception in the second half of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2009, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Mike Stone)

Raiders coach Tom Cable heaped praise on receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey but kept his comments brief when asked about quarterback JaMarcus Russell on Thursday.

Heyward-Bey appeared to be a disillusioned player after a disappointing rookie season in which he caught only nine passes in 11 games and was ridiculed for his inability to catch the ball consistently.

"(People) will be excited when you see the improvement Darrius has made," Cable said during his first interview with the Bay Area media since his season-ending news conference in January. "That guy has jumped out at us (in the team's) offseason program, just the quality of work he's done. What he did between the end of the season and when we started on March 17 is phenomenal."

While Cable went on and on about Heyward-Bey, he didn't have much to say about other Raiders players or the upcoming season, instead instructing questioners to keep inquiries relative to the NFL draft next week.

And Cable didn't offer much insight about Russell, failing to display the same enthusiasm he did when discussing Heyward-Bey.

"He's here, he's working," Cable said of Russell. "He's doing everything that everybody else is doing, has been here since the start of the second week. That's all I can tell you."

Questions continue to linger about Russell's weight, his offseason workout program and long-term status with the Raiders.


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Cable did say that recently acquired linebacker Kamerion Wimbley is the projected starter at the strongside position, with Trevor Scott supplanting Thomas Howard at weakside linebacker.

Howard, however, has yet to sign his one-year tender. It's possible that the Raiders will attempt to trade him before or during the draft. If that doesn't pan out, Howard is a candidate to be released during training camp or banished to a special teams role.

In other news, Cable has asked a court to dismiss a civil suit filed by former assistant coach Randy Hanson, according to the Associated Press.

Cable's attorney filed a motion Thursday in Alameda County Superior Court saying Hanson's case against Cable and the Raiders should be handled in arbitration.

Hanson alleged that Cable assaulted him in a training-camp altercation last August. The Napa County District Attorney's Office opted against filing charges against Cable after a lengthy investigation.

The Raiders also have filed a motion seeking arbitration. A hearing on the matter is set for May 13.