OPENING REMARKS: “It was nice to get back to work today. The bye week was great for, I think, everybody. We came back energized and excited to be back. We know that we’ve got a big game ahead of us this weekend against a tough opponent that’s playing really well. Offensively, we’ve got to get ready for a physical football game. They’re a big, physical group. Their defensive line, their linebackers, everybody plays physical. We’ve got to come ready to play and we will come Sunday.”
Q: Were you roommates with Carson Palmer at USC?
CASSEL: “I was roommates with Carson at USC.”
Q: What do you remember about him and what do you think some of his strengths are?
CASSEL: “Carson is a great guy and he’s a great friend of mine. I’m excited that he gets the opportunity to play again. I’m happy for him and his family. I know that that was something that he wanted to do and he’ll get an opportunity. I’ll be a fan of his every day but two of them, when we play them. It’ll be fun to compete against him.”
Q: Can you put yourself in his shoes? How difficult is that?
CASSEL: “I don’t know. I’ve never been put in that situation, but I know that he’s played a lot of football before. I think this is his ninth year in the NFL and he played a lot of football in college as well. I’m sure if anybody can do it, Carson can do it.”
Q: Have you guys been in touch since he got traded to Oakland?
CASSEL: “I gave him a call yesterday just to congratulate him, but I haven’t heard back. I’m sure he’s got a lot on his plate.”
Q: What do you think about him going to Oakland?
CASSEL: “Like I said, as a friend I’m excited for him and that he gets an opportunity to play. I’m also excited to get the opportunity to play against him. I think he’s a great quarterback and obviously has a tremendous amount of skills. It’ll be fun to be out there and be competing.”
Q: How are you gearing yourself up to go against that defensive line and what are you saying to your blockers about keeping you upright on Sunday?
CASSEL: “It’s one of those things that you have to go in with a mentality. You’ve got to know that it’s going to be a physical football game. Those guys are going to win some battles, but as long as we can go out there and execute the game plan and put ourselves in the right position, we’ll be fine.”
Q: What tells you that the Raiders are a physical team?
CASSEL: “You can just see how they hustle around, how they hit you and how they create pressure on the quarterback. It’s a team that you can see them play hard each and every play. That’s what I mean by physical. You can also tell just from the physicality of looking at them. They’re all big players. Even their linebackers are big guys, so that’s how they play.”
Q: Is there anything you can do to get off to a quicker start on offense?
CASSEL: “I’m not going to jump into specifics, but you bring up a great point. It’s a point of emphasis for us in the bye week. It’s been a point of emphasis as we move forward to try to start faster in games. It’s something that we’ve worked hard on and hopefully it’ll show come Sunday.”
Q: Is there any chance that
CASSEL: “I don’t know. You’re going to have to go ask coach in terms of personnel and all that. I know he’s been working hard to get back out there and we’ll have to see.”
Q: How much extra motivation is it that they handled you guys twice last year?
CASSEL: “It’s a great motivation that they’re a division rival. I know last year was last year and they did a good job on us when they played us last year, but at the same time, it’s a new year and we’ve got to go out there and be prepared – like I said – for who we’re playing this year.”
Q: As a quarterback, how have you been developing chemistry with Baldwin and what can he bring to the offense?
CASSEL: “I don’t really know how to evaluate him right now, but to be completely honest, you’ve got to get out there and practice and continue to work with him and throw routes and open those lines of communication, you know, ‘What are you seeing? What am I seeing? How do you want to run a route specifically?’ and try to get on the same page that way.”
Q: What did Richard Seymour inject into that defensive front when he went there?
CASSEL: “He’s one of the best defensive tackles in the game. He’s big, he’s physical, he plays hard and it’s hard to block him one-on-one because he’s a talented guy and he’s a wide load. I had an opportunity to play with him in New England and I think he’s a heck of a player. Obviously, he’s carried that over to Oakland as well.”
Q: Was he a locker room presence in New England?
CASSEL: “Absolutely, he’s a great leader and he had quite a presence about himself. He worked with the young guys well. He’s a good person as well as a good player.”
Q: Is he a talker on the field? How many defensive linemen yap a little bit?
CASSEL: “There’s some defensive linemen that will yap a little bit more than others, but Richard just kind of lets you know that he’s there by kind of leaning on you a little bit, but he’s not much of a talker. Maybe he will be on Sunday, I don’t know.”
Q: Has the Black Hole gotten scarier the more you’ve gotten to play in this rivalry?
CASSEL: “I love the atmosphere out there. I think it’s a fun place to play. You talk about the Black Hole and you see these amazing fans in all these fun costumes and stuff like that, so I just think it’s a great environment and a great stadium to play. It’s a lot of fun when you go out there and get to play out there.”
Q: Where you a Raider fan as a kid?
CASSEL: “No, I wasn’t a Raider fan growing up, so I can’t say that.”
Q: Did you have a relationship with Hue Jackson in that freshman year at Southern Cal?
CASSEL: “He was my quarterback coach my freshman year at USC, so I know Coach Jackson real well. He’s a good man. I know his family. He’s doing a good job up there.”
Q: What makes him a good coach?
CASSEL: “I haven’t been around him for a long time, like I said. I was still trying to learn my X’s and O’s when I came in my redshirt freshman year and kept my mouth shut. I learned a lot from him and he since has moved on and had a lot of success.”
Q: Can you tell if there is something different with this team after the bye week to avoid a letdown?
CASSEL: “I thought the energy at practice was great today. I thought the guys came out with a lot of enthusiasm. This bye week couldn’t have come at a better time, I think, for our team. It allowed us to get a little extra time on a good opponent coming up here with the Raiders and at the same time, gave us a little rest and allowed our team to heal a little bit. To get back out there today, you could see that everybody is ready to go and hopefully that’ll translate into a good, successful win on Sunday.”