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Raiders defensive tackle Antonio Smith brought a karaoke machine to work on Thursday, and busted out some Blake Shelton shortly after practice. Whether they were into the song selection or not – Justin Tuck knew the words – Smith’s teammates got a chuckle out of the proceedings.
From Smith’s vantage, that means mission accomplished. Oakland’s resident jester has been on playoff teams and terrible ones, and he knows it accomplishes nothing to let losing consume every moment of every day.
The Raiders desperately want to win, but playing under a black cloud doesn’t help.
“If you let all these losses eat at you, that can take you down real fast,” running back Darren McFadden said. “Guys are committed to staying focused in practice and in meetings but loose in the locker room. You can’t be wound real tight and expect a good performance. There’s no point in piling pressure on yourself. That doesn’t help you play better.”
Don’t take this story the wrong way. The Raiders aren’t happy with an 0-7 start. It aggravates them more than expected because the Raiders passionately believe they’re better than the record indicates.
Veteran leaders help maintain the proper balance, and interim head coach Tony Sparano has his players focused on making steady improvement. Results haven’t been good but they have been better, which has the Raiders believing wins are around the corner.
It’ll be tough on Sunday at the Seattle Seahawks, or even at home against the Denver Broncos. The effort is high despite odds against them, which comes from a solid practice routine that includes some well-timed levity.
“Coach Sparano has done a good job of presenting the right message and outlining the goals we want to accomplish,” linebacker Sio Moore said. “We want to continue to improve. We have pride and we believe we can be far better than how we’ve played. We have great leaders on this team who have been through ups and downs. They know how to weather these rough times.”