Raiders coach Jackson prepares for 1st season

Hue Jackson has hired a staff, talked strategy and philosophy

with his new assistants, put together a playbook and promoted the

Oakland Raiders in the community as he prepares for his first

season as a head coach in the NFL.

The only thing Jackson hasn’t been able to do as of yet is what

he does best, coach a football team. Like 31 other coaches in the

league, Jackson’s job is on hold as the NFL has locked out its

players in a labor dispute.

”I want to get to what I truly get paid to do, which is

coaching football, as soon as I can,” Jackson said Thursday.

But instead of installing his playbook, getting to know his new

players and running offseason workouts, Jackson is left to prepare

for next week’s draft and wait for a resolution to the lockout.

The Raiders may have to wait longer than any other team to pick,

having traded their first-round pick to New England before the 2009

season for Richard Seymour. Oakland is pleased with the results of

that deal as Seymour has become a leader on defense and was picked

for the Pro Bowl last season.

The Raiders have had a first-round pick every year since 1989,

although they had to deal back into the round in 2005 to take

Fabian Washington 23rd overall after trading the seventh pick to

Minnesota in a package for Randy Moss.

Jackson did not rule out dealing into the round one again,

saying the team would not ”leave any stone unturned.” It could be

more difficult this season with the lockout because teams can only

trade picks – not players – during the draft.

The lockout has made much of the offseason difficult as teams

head into the draft not knowing which potential free agents they

will lose or sign and which players they could potentially acquire

in a trade.

That could make it more difficult to decide what the biggest

needs are.

”We’re all in the same boat,” Jackson said. ”We wish we

weren’t, but we are, and we’ll all deal with it accordingly. You

wish you knew exactly what you have and didn’t have. Obviously, we

all do. You can’t worry about it. You have to continue to press on,

go forward and make the decisions that you know you need to

make.”

The Raiders do have one advantage, with owner Al Davis having

signed some key potential free agents to contracts before the

lockout started last month, including Seymour, cornerback Stanford

Routt, linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, defensive tackle John

Henderson, backup running back Rock Cartwright, safety Hiram Eugene

and backup quarterback Kyle Boller.

Even if Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and starting free

safety Michael Huff leave as free agents, the Raiders have most of

their defense back for next season, as well as almost all of their

skilled position players on offense.

”We have a defensive football team that can hit the ground

running,” Jackson said. ”A very talented defensive football team

that I feel very comfortable putting out on the field and playing

with.”

The defense will be working under a new coordinator as Chuck

Bresnahan was hired to replace John Marshall. Jackson has spent

lots of time working with Bresnahan, new offensive coordinator Al

Saunders and returning special teams coordinator John Fassel.

The lockout has given him more time than usual to talk

philosophy with his coordinators so things will go more smoothly

once the players return.

But Jackson acknowledges it might be harder to implement all the

changes he wants with less offseason time with his players.

He has already put in place contingency plans for what he would

do if training camp is shortened if the lockout continues into the

summer.

”We’re going to go do what we need to do. Now, can we do it on

a wide scale? No. Probably not,” he said. ”But there will be

changes. There has to be. This is now going to be my imprint on

this football team. We’ll come in here and we’ll be a different

group, and I think our players know that, and I think our

organization knows that and I think our fans know that. Our

expectation’s different. We expect to win, and I think we

will.”

Jackson also said he was concerned about three offseason arrests

for his players. Running back Michael Bush was charged with driving

under the influence in Indiana in February; offensive lineman Mario

Henderson was charged in March with carrying a concealed firearm

without a permit in Florida; and receiver Louis Murphy was arrested

earlier this month in Florida for possession of Viagra without a

valid prescription, failure to obey an officer, and nonviolent

resisting arrest.

”I’m very disappointed about it,” Jackson said. ”It’s not

very Raider like, but obviously there’s nothing I can do about it.

The rules won’t let me talk to those particular players or

anything. But I am disappointed. I’m sure when we’re allowed to

address it we will.”