"I have guys who are new targets," Russell said. "I try to put the ball in great places to give the team a chance to catch it. That's what we've got practice for."
Coach Tom Cable acknowledged Russell's struggles but seemed unconcerned.
"At times, it seems kind of streaky," Cable said. "As you look at it, some of this is new for him, too, some of the concepts that are going on. Yet it plays to him, because it is down the field more. I think it's just a matter of getting comfortable with it."
--The latest chapter in the Javon Walker saga for the Raiders: he underwent knee surgery without the club's knowledge.
"We just became aware of it a couple of days ago," Cable said as minicamp began.
Walker, who went on injured reserve last season with an ankle injury, caught 15 passes for 196 yards and one touchdown in eight games -- career lows in a season in which he played in more than one game.
That came after signing a contract that paid him $12 million last season. Walker was due a $5 million roster bonus and $4 million in salary, but agreed to accept $4.6 million guaranteed over the next two years in a renegotiation rather than be released.
Walker said he probably wasn't any better than 65 percent since knee surgery in 2005, a likely surprise to the Raiders, who forked out all that cash to sign him.
"You can look good physically, feel good physically but it was a situation that was never going to get right," Walker said. "Now that I've got it right, I can look forward to really doing and getting back to what I used to do."
Cable conceded Walker's secret surgery wasn't the norm, but said, "we knew there was an issue (with his knee). It was almost like he was never getting over it. The key thing is he's really excited about it, feels good about it. If we can get back the Javon he used to be that's exciting for our offense."
--As one of the three premium draft picks (Darrius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy being the others) who didn't practice the final day because of hamstring soreness, Mike Mitchell acknowledged that all the training in the world doesn't necessarily prepare him for football practice.
Only football practice can do that.
"I took a lot of reps, got a little winded, but that's expected," Mitchell said. "Everybody's getting back into football shape."
Mitchell came with a reputation for hitting, something which was forbidden during a minicamp.
He was warned beforehand by Cable about staying upright and keeping the receivers he guarded the same way, and when he inadvertently knocked down Murphy, Mitchell received an on-field lecture from defensive coordinator John Marshall.
"Some of our receivers are coming out to block you and you can't be as aggressive as you'd like," Mitchell said. "So they end up getting their hands on you a little more than you think they would."
--As much as cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha enjoyed the season-ending two-game winning streak against Houston and Tampa Bay, he is realistic enough to realize the wins meant nothing if they don't carry over to start the season.
"I think it was a good confidence booster going into the offseason, but the scare is when guys don't build off it -- if they look at those two wins and this whole offseason they don't care," Asomugha said.
Asomugha, who hadn't spoken to local reporters since signing a blockbuster deal, hadn't received a franchise tag when he signed a three-year, $45.3 million contract with $28.5 million guaranteed, but was assured it would happen at the deadline.
"We knew it was going to happen," Asomugha said. "You'd rather be here amicably, I guess, than fighting. So we made it to where both of us could agree on something. I was going to be here, so let's make it right."
--Guard Robert Gallery, who restores and collects pre-1970s American made cars, had been planning for some time to have a benefit "cruise" from one location to another to raise money for a good cause.
When four Oakland police officers were killed in the line of duty on March 21, Gallery had his cause. He pulled out the number of an Oakland police officer he knew who often worked at Raiders games and concerts.
Gallery's wife told him he ought to check the name just to make sure he wasn't one of the officers involved.
Sure enough, the card belonged to Mark Dunakin, first on the scene following a traffic stop, shot and killed by a suspected rapist. The suspect then shot a second officer and then killed two SWAT team members after barricading himself in an apartment.
"That was a kick in the gut, so the cruise became kind of a no-brainer for me," Gallery said. "Since I knew the guy, it hit home that much more."
All money raised from the cruise, which starts in Dublin, Calif., and ends in nearby Livermore, will go to a trust fund for the children of the slain officers. At the cruise's conclusion, Gallery hopes to convince a number of his teammates to attend and sign autographs for donations.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think what I'm seeing is good teaching going on and a lot of hunger from them, wanting to learn and wanting to get it right. I give it a B-plus. It's not perfect -- it's not even close. But we wanted to come out, work hard and learn the new things. We accomplished those things." -- Raiders coach Tom Cable's review of the team's mandatory minicamp.