Jeff Garcia Still Battling Calf Injury

By  | 

NAPA, Calif. (AP) Four days of practice haven't been enough to convince Oakland Raiders quarterback Jeff Garcia that he's fully recovered from the calf injury that sidelined him for two weeks.

Garcia is expected to play in Saturday's preseason game against San Francisco but for how long and what he'll be able to do is uncertain.

"I'm still feeling my way and trying to get to the point where I can feel more comfortable and just let it all go," Garcia said Thursday. "I know the system well enough to where I'm reacting on the field but I know I'm not up to the speed I like to be at. Once I get to that point, things will be that much more comfortable for me, that much more natural."

The 39-year-old quarterback took part in Oakland's first two days of training camp when coach Tom Cable had the players go through walkthrough workouts. But when the team donned pads for the first time, Garcia was unable to take part because of a sore left calf muscle.

At the time Cable downplayed the severity of Garcia's injury, but the veteran signal-caller spent the next two weeks in the background unable to take part in any drills.

Garcia returned this week, just in time for two days of joint workouts with the San Francisco 49ers. The two teams, who play each other on Saturday night, held four practices, with Garcia working primarily with Oakland's backup offense while JaMarcus Russell handled most of the snaps with the starters.

Cable said he expects the Raiders to play their starters through the first half but anticipates using Garcia - who began his NFL career with the 49ers in 1999 - in the second quarter.

"Returning back to San Francisco, there's definitely a spot there for me because they gave me my start here in the NFL and I had some good years there," said Garcia, who started 71 games in five seasons with the 49ers. "It always feels pretty good to return there. I know I may not get a whole lot of time in this preseason game but I expect probably more playing time in the next game against New Orleans. It's about how physically I feel."

He probably won't get the reception from the San Francisco crowd he once did. For one thing, he's now playing for the 49ers' cross-Bay rivals. He's also not as mobile as he was when he played at Candlestick Park thanks to the calf injury that has slowed him down since signing with Oakland.

"You can tell he has all that experience and background in this kind of system," Cable said. "There are times, though, you can tell he just needs some more timing and rhythm."

Garcia moved around decently on Thursday, connecting with fullback Marcel Reece on a 20-yard completion with a perfectly placed pass just beyond the reach of linebacker Morlon Greenwood.

Still, the 11th-year veteran realizes he's a ways away from being fully ready to go.

"It's just about getting to the speed that I need to get at," Garcia said. "My game is movement. My game is making quick decisions and being able to do something with the football when things start to break down around me. If I can't be that guy then I'm not who I need to be. So I'm working on getting back to being that person."

Notes: The Raiders had 21 players, including 12 projected
starters, who were held out of practice, many of them veterans who
were given the day off by Cable.