NFL: Raiders’ Henderson has strong words for Jaguars
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) – Oakland Raiders defensive tackle John Henderson delivered a strong message to his former teammates in Jacksonville and urged coach Jack Del Rio to post his comments on the Jaguars’ bulletin board.
In a brief and blunt interview this week, Henderson said he targeted Sunday’s game against the Jags immediately after signing with the Raiders in the offseason; challenged Jacksonville to run the ball as much as possible against Oakland’s defense; and brushed aside a compliment paid to him by Del Rio.
The 6-foot-7, 335-pound Henderson also said he’ll likely dispense with his normal pregame routine of having someone slap him in the face. For this week, at least, Henderson doesn’t think he’ll need it.
“I’m already slapped right now, I’m already geeked,” Henderson said. “Wouldn’t matter if I had one leg, I’m still going to be there.”
Henderson is one of three former Jaguars now with the Raiders. Linebacker Quentin Groves was acquired from Jacksonville in the offseason for a fifth-round draft pick, while tackle Khalif Barnes signed with the Raiders as a free agent in 2009.
While Barnes and Groves avoided any controversy when asked about facing their former team, Henderson didn’t hold back.
He called Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew a “great running back,” but defied the Jaguars to run his way.
“I want them to run all day,” Henderson said without cracking a smile. “Run the power, run the weak, run all that to me when I’m in the game. Please, run it. I’m telling him this, right now: Run it.”
Henderson repeatedly referred to an unnamed “he” during the four-minute interview but didn’t identify who it was he was talking about.
“Whoever’s in front of me at that time,” Henderson said. “They don’t like it, I don’t care. That’s what it is. They already know how I am. They know I’m fittin’ to bring it.”
Henderson was released in April after eight seasons in Jacksonville. A first-round pick of the Jaguars in 2002, his exit wasn’t exactly smooth.
Jacksonville saved an estimated $5 million by cutting Henderson with two years left on his contract. The move came almost a year after Del Rio questioned Henderson’s work ethic when the defensive lineman missed a voluntary offseason workout in 2009.
Henderson is still finding his way after missing seven games earlier this season with a stress fracture in his foot. He had three tackles in a loss to Miami two weeks ago and had only one against San Diego this past Sunday. But Henderson helped anchor a defensive line that sacked quarterback Philip Rivers four times and held the Chargers to 21 yards rushing.
The Raiders (6-6) need that same type of performance from their defense against the Jaguars, who have won four of their last five.
Henderson doesn’t think it will be an issue. He smiled briefly but was otherwise serious when talking about the only team he had played for before joining Oakland.
“It’s going to feel good to go and whip somebody’s you know what,” Henderson said. “I wasn’t laughing. I hope he goes and puts it on his bulletin board, too. They better bring it. That’s all I got to say. Put that on the bulletin board, too.”
In a conference call with Bay Area reporters earlier this week, Del Rio was complimentary of Henderson and said it was a difficult decision to release the veteran lineman.
“Big John’s one of my favorites, big strong, powerful guy and a lot of fun to be around,” Del Rio said. “It’s not always easy to let go of guys like that. In the end, we just did what we felt we had to do as an organization.”
Henderson shrugged off Del Rio’s comments and had a few cautionary words for his former coach.
“I hope he is nice,” Henderson said. “That’s good. Whatever he says. Tell him I’m bringing it, though. He can be nice all he wants. I’ll put him on the bulletin board. He knows it.”
Groves wasn’t nearly as poignant as Henderson, but said he was also looking forward to the game.
“I think all three of us are,” Groves said. “It’s good to go back home and go see your old friends, fellow foes.”
Groves did say he has been on the receiving end of barbs on Twitter coming from some of his former teammates. One of the Raiders’ most popular tweeters, Groves has declined to respond.
“I’m actually holding it in because there’s been a lot of stones thrown this way via Twitter, via e-mail, text messaging,” Groves said. “One thing about me, man, you can throw all you want to. But when I throw a boulder back at you, don’t get mad at me.”
Jacksonville linebacker Kirk Morrison was a fifth-round pick of Oakland’s in 2005 and spent his first five seasons in the NFL with the Raiders. He was traded to the Jaguars in April along with a fifth-round pick for a fourth-round selection.
“You know what, I’m putting the Raiders, that whole thing aside,” Morrison said. “I know both teams are playing for a lot. We’re a team that kind of flew under the radar for three-quarters of the season. Now people are starting to talk and see what we’re doing. It just so happens that the Raiders have been playing some good football.”
Notes: MLB Rolando McClain (tendinitis) did not practice, but is expected to play. … WR Nick Miller was limited after suffering a mild ankle sprain in practice a day earlier. … DE Jarvis Moss has a fractured hand, but Cable doesn’t think it will prevent him from playing. … CB Chris Johnson (groin) practiced for a second straight day, an encouraging sign for Oakland’s ninth-ranked pass defense.