Heading into his third NFL season, Dwayne Bowe has blossomed into one of the league’s top young wide receivers for the Kansas City Chiefs. The former college teammate of Oakland quarterback JaMarcus Russell spoke with Bay Area reporters on a conference call Wednesday and talked about a variety of topics, including Russell and Raiders rookie wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey.
But Bowe saved his most interesting comments for Oakland Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, saying the Chiefs – following the lead of San Diego a week earlier – plan to go right at Asomugha rather than restricting their offense from his side of the field.
“We have a great quarterback, our offensive line is protecting, I’m maturing more in route running and in catching balls so Coach (Todd) Haley is going to go at him,” Bowe said. “He just told me play with leverage, play low and just watch (Asomugha’s) hands.”
Asomugha earned his first Pro Bowl honors in 2008 when many teams simply quit throwing his way. San Diego was one of the few teams to challenge Asomugha and the Chargers did it again Monday when quarterback Philip Rivers threw a 15-yard touchdown to Vincent Jackson, who used an outside-in move that spun Asomugha around.
Bowe, who scored a touchdown in a season-opening loss to Baltimore, understands that just because Kansas City is going to go after Asomugha doesn’t necessarily mean the Chiefs will be successful.
“In the game, he doesn’t the same thing every week,” Bowe said. “You can practice what he did this week but when we play him Sunday he’s going to have a whole different scheme. That’s what I learned about him. You never know what you’re going to get against him. As long as you know that you don’t know, you’ll be OK.”
Bowe also had some words of advice for Russell, his former teammate at LSU.
“I know what he can do. It’s just, when can he do it?” Bowe said. “I told him, his time is running out in the NFL. I want to see now, and I want to see a year from now, feeling up to it. You have to take into consideration to take the show yourself and he just feels like he’s young and he’s got a lot of older guys in front of him that’s kind of mentoring him. But I said, ‘You’re the quarterback on that team; you’re going to be the franchise player. You need to be the franchise.’ I told him, ‘You need to take over every drill, every meeting, and just see how it goes. If you do it and it don’t work out well, stop. But if you do it and you’re successful, keep going.’ So I’m just waiting to hear him on the headlines taking over Oakland.”
The Chiefs wideout could also relate to the pressure being felt by Raiders first-round draft pick Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was held without a catch in his first NFL game.
Heyward-Bey chafed at reports he struggled in the game and brushed off a comment made by head coach Tom Cable that "I saw a real nervous uptight young man, a lot of big eyes” in reference to Heyward-Bey.
“I felt the same I always did since I've been playing in high school. I started high school football late and I've been feeling the same ever since,” Heyward-Bey said. “When we watch film, that's what I'm doing, my job. As long as the coaches notice that's all that matters. I don't really care what the fans think or what anybody else thinks. As long as they see I'm doing the job they want me to do, they're the ones paying me.”
Bowe said it’s important for DHB to let the game come to him.
“If you’re a playmaker, you’re a playmaker,” Bowe said. “Once you tell yourself that and don’t lose confidence … all the great receivers drop balls, mess up here and there, but it’s how you come back that makes you special.”
Other news and notes from Wednesday:
-- Middle linebacker Kirk Morrison is still wearing a thick, heavily padded brace on his left elbow, though he hopes to lessen the bulk of it for game days. “They can make it smaller,” Morrison said. “I only have to wear it for a couple more weeks. … The movement’s coming back. I’m not too far away.”
-- QB JaMarcus Russell is nursing a bruised shin, courtesy of San Diego linebacker Shawne Merriman, but doesn’t expect it to bother him against Kansas City.
-- The special teams coverage units were still kicking themselves two days after giving up big returns that helped swing momentum in the Chargers favor.
“I was very disappointed,” Ike Ekejiuba said. “Our defense played great, and we gave the Chargers two short fields. That’s unacceptable for a division game that’s this close. Obviously this is not where we want to be. We have a lot of work to do.
“It was a variety of things. A couple guys not where they were supposed to be. It’s gonna happen. The speed of the game picks up from the preseason. Now I think guys have a feel for that, and we should be able to go ahead and make those corrections.”
-- Tackle Khalif Barnes, who was inactive for Monday’s loss to the Chargers, said he wasn’t shocked by how well the Raiders were able to run the ball against San Diego.
“I was happy and ecstatic but I wasn’t surprised,” Barnes said. “A lot of people might have been surprised but I and the rest of the guys on the line, they knew they were going to push those guys around. More San Diego fans and everybody else might have been surprised but from camp and especially last week the intensity that those guys come into the game, they knew they had to push around Jamal, they knew they had to push around Castillo, they knew Merriman was coming back. So I was just happy to see it. There was a lot of anxiety going on during the week and I was cheering them on and I couldn’t have been happier for the guys.”
-- The Raiders alternated their strong safeties against the Chargers, having Hiram Eugene play mostly on running downs while Michael Huff _ who had an interception and fumble recovery _ came in for passing plays.
It’s a pattern Oakland will likely continue.
“It’s the right thing to do in terms of that package, being able to match some things up,” Cable said. “For us, it’s the right thing for this football team.”