Nnamdi Asomugha is the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL.
Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Cable and All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha spoke to the Houston media via conference call on Wednesday, with much of the discussion focused on Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson.
Raiders head coach Tom Cable(on what enabled the Raiders to win vs. the Texans in 2008) "They were a good football team last year and we had some opportunities in that football game to get a lead and maintain the lead. Fortunately for us it turned out that way. The weather was horrible, if you remember, and that probably helped us."
(on how the Raiders were able to limit WR Andre Johnson) "No. That guy is a great player. You've got to do a number of things to try and contain him, if you will. I don't know if you will ever take him out of a game. Again, weather conditions and all that had something to do with it last year."
(on if CB Nnamdi Asomugha will cover Johnson the entire game) "Well, we really have never done that. So I don't know why we would now. We've done some matchup, but not for a whole game."
(on how good Asomugha is) "He's very good. The thing I'm excited about for Nnamdi is he's improving his tackling. I think he's a much better tackler than he was a year ago. He gets the ball thrown at him probably a little more than people like to write about but he does a good job of defending it. I'm pleased with him. I think he's becoming a better tackler."
(on his biggest concerns after 3 games) "I think there's a number of things. We're struggling to throw the football. We're struggling to run the football and find our identity there offensively. Then defensively, it's just being better tacklers and being better on first and second down."
(on QB JaMarcus Russell) "He's had some flashes and we need to be more consistent with him. That's a responsibility that I think he is embracing. Hopefully we'll have a breakthrough here soon."
(on why the Raiders are struggling in the run game) "I don't think we blocked it well. I don't think we ran it well. Been kind of over-running some things. The fact that we don't have a passing game I think we've had to rely on it and make some things up as we go and create things and that's not who we are and what we can't do."
(on if too much is made of the Texans' inability to stop the run and the Raiders' inability to run) "Oh, it is. Both teams are 1 and 2. Both teams have had their struggles. We're probably both very aware of where our issues are. The issue here is the Oakland Raiders for me. I'm sure with Gary the issue is the Houston Texans. It's not so much about the opponent. We need to take care of ourselves "
(on how QB Matt Schaub has played in 2009) "I think he's playing well. I was in Atlanta with him and I think he's having a heck of a year so far."
Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha(on WR Andre Johnson and the challenges he presents for corners around the league) "Well, you're talking about one of if not the top receiver in the league. Any time you get a guy with his size and his strength and his speed, you're going to have some matchup problems, and there's a lot of ways that he can hurt you whether it's running the ball, whether it's deep, whether it's short. He's got all the intangibles. So he always presents a problem for any corner around the league."
(on what his secret is to having a tremendous amount of success against WR Andre Johnson) "(Laughs) I guess no secret. Whether I've had success on him or not, he's still been a challenge. He's been one of my greatest challenges that I face each week. Each year, it's one of those things where you look at the schedule and you see who the top guys are that you're going to face, and you see Houston on the schedule, you know you're going to have a battle any time you're going to have to play against that type of a receiver. So I don't know; I just play my game and try my best and see how successful how I can be. But he's a great player."
(on if he plays on the same side no matter where WR Andre Johnson lines up) "No, that's not true. I think every year that we play him, there's a plan together where I'll be on him the majority of the time. Not all the time, but there'll be a lot of situations where he goes to the left or the right or wherever he goes where I'll end up on him. But it won't be every single snap. Just as far as game plans in the past, it's never been every snap, but we've always had some sort of plan together."
(on if he and WR Andre Johnson have developed a personal relationship ) "Yeah. I'm sure we'll talk more after the game as opposed to before the game, but yeah, definitely. I've known the type of talent he was since high school. I've met him since college and in the Pro Bowl and all that stuff. We have each other's number. We talk in the offseason every now and then. He's a really good guy."
(on not talking a lot on the field) "No, I don't talk a lot of trash on the field, and guys really don't talk that much trash to me. When they do, I just laugh. I really don't get into it. I'm trying to stay a little more focused than that."
(on if he is the opposite of Titans CB Cortland Finnegan) "(Laughs) The complete opposite. Cortland, he's going to be running his mouth and being aggressive, so no, complete opposite from that."
(on if WR Andre Johnson has been able to improve every year) "Yeah, you just see consistency. You just see a guy that, he came into the league a star. We came in in the same draft class and he was a top-three pick, if I'm not mistaken, but he's always held up that status. He's never dropped below what he should've been. He came in a top pick and he's always played that way. Those are some of the things that you respect about him. He's just consistently been a top receiver."
(on starting at strong safety at Houston in 2004 and how he became a corner) "I appreciate your research there. I did, yeah. We went back to Houston and I did start at strong safety at that game, but I still didn't play that much that game. But the evolution was… it's difficult. It's difficult any time you're switching from safety to corner, in particular a man-to-man corner. But I guess it was one of those things where repetition and practice and determination and all those types of things, it'll allow you to overcome any obstacles that you have to go through. It was a tough transition, but within three years, I was able to make it happen."
(on if he wanted to be a corner) "You know, coming in, I didn't because I was very comfortable playing safety in college. But I came here and (Raiders owner) Mr. (Al) Davis saw that I could run and do certain things at the corner position, so he said he'd give it a try. I was definitely reluctant to do it just because I knew the type of player – I mean, if I was on a cover two team, then I probably wouldn't have had any problem. I'd have said, 'Sure, let's try it out,' get to bang the receiver and then just play zone. But coming in and playing man, it was something that played on my mind a little bit. So no, I didn't want it, but looks like it worked out."
(on if yards after the catch are as much of a concern with WR Andre Johnson as the catch itself) "Yeah, absolutely. You watch teams that play him around the league, and lots of times when he catches the ball in space, he's able to turn it up for a considerable gain. So those are some of the things that you always have to key on when you've got a guy like him or the other physical guys in the league, (Anquan) Boldin, Steve Smith or Brandon Marshall – those are the guys that any time they catch the ball, no matter where you are, you've got to swarm him to bring him down because he can always turn it into a big play."
(on what's it going to take for the Raiders to turn the corner) "It's going to take a lot of determination, I guess, by the group. We're going to have to be a lot more focused and we're going to have to believe in ourselves a little bit more. And we're really close. I know a lot of people can't see that from the outside looking in. They're probably thinking, 'Oh, this team isn't going to do anything. They'll be terrible.' But from my point of view and from the guys here, we think that we're really close. We know that we're really close to turning it around, it's just a matter of a couple of good things happening to us to get that momentum going. I don't think we're that far off right now."
(on if the Texans are another team close to breaking through and becoming playoff team) "Yeah, we definitely see them as… we don't look at it as motivation like, 'Oh, look what they did.' But we can see that in the Texans, they have that type of power, that type of ability to turn the corner. They almost made the playoffs last year. And no one talks down about the Texans. It's never like they're a terrible team. It's always like they're that mid-range, they might get into the playoffs, might not, but they're one of the teams that you can never sleep on. So there's a lot of respect that we have here for that ballclub and the coaches."
(on if he ever could've dreamed that the Raiders would have struggled so much when he was drafted) "No, not even close. First of all, when I was drafted, I looked at the team that drafted me, I said, 'Wow, this is a team full of Hall of Famers and all-stars. They just came from the Super Bowl, it looks like we're going right back.' It couldn't have been any better of a situation for me, but it just didn't work out that way. So no, you never imagine that you're going to be winning four games a year pretty much every year. You're expecting to lose four games a year. So definitely a shock, and definitely something I've wanted to be a part of the turnaround with."
(on the Texans' star quality showing how hard it is to put it together) "Oh, yeah. It doesn't matter. Every team is talented. Every team's got some level of star quality, and the coaches are all here. They've all done it before. But that's why we play the game. That's why we go out on Sundays. I think if we could figure out who was going to win, then it wouldn't be any fun. And teams scheme other teams and try to figure out what the other guys are trying to do to them, and it's like a chess match: Whoever outsmarts the other guy on that given Sunday is going to win. It's the reason we play the game. The joy of the game is that you just never know what's going to happen from week to week."