How best to sum up the Raiders today?
Whatever, their preseason maneuvers ended Wednesday as Mike Haynes returned from the football hereafter, and the team started back on its in-season schedule leading to Sunday's opener against the San Diego Chargers.
Haynes breathed a sigh of relief, but everyone else had his game face on early. After an 0-4 exhibition season, myriad position changes--16 since the 1988 opener, 11 since the exhibition opener four weeks ago--the departures of starters Rod Martin, Matt Millen, Todd Christensen, Andy Parker, Chris Bahr, Linden King, James Lofton, Otis Wilson and Haynes, the camp-long holdouts of Marcus Allen and Bill Lewis, and the reappearance of Wilson and Haynes, the playing roster has been shaken to its foundations.
"I'm just glad to be back," Haynes said. "(Being cut) is not what I had expected would happen. Of course, there was a lot of talk about it happening.
"It did happen but it's not real bad because I'm still in silver and black.
"No, I really didn't have an inkling. For about 24 hours, I was wondering what was going on. But I talked to Mr. (Al) Davis and he said they still wanted me back on the team. So here I am."
So, wasn't it finally nice to be wanted?
"Yeah," Haynes said, laughing. "Big cut in salary (he is thought to have had his $825,000 pay roughly halved), but I'm still back. I have a chance to make some of the money back by going to the Super Bowl, so . . . "
Now that's positive thinking.
"I do think (salary) had a lot to do with it," Haynes said. "It gave them an opportunity to renegotiate some of the higher salaries. Unfortunately, I was one of those guys.
"(Laughing,) I didn't have a lot of leverage at age 36 but the most important thing to me was to play football this year and have an opportunity to do it here. It just worked out fine. . . . It wasn't a tough decision at all.
"It was a little demoralizing, but you do realize you can't play forever. I was really upset by it all but there's not much I can do about it. I still think I'm fortunate to be able to come back here and play. And if we win, things will just take care of themselves."
It was a great time for firsts. For the first time in his life, this Hall-of-Famer-to-be got cut. For the first time in 15 pro seasons, he'll be a backup cornerback.
"Well, that's what we (he and Davis) talked about," Haynes said. "And if that's the way they see me, then I have to do that. At the same time, I want everybody to know, including Lionel Washington, I'll be trying to get the No. 1 job back."
Jerry Robinson's groin pull still bothers him. Jackie Shipp, playing with a broken bone in his left hand, will start at the inside linebacker spot, which is actually more like the old middle linebacker in a 4-3 defense.
Said Coach Mike Shanahan: "Jerry can run straight ahead but he's having a problem laterally."
Robinson has been out since the start of camp with the pull. His return has been forecast for each of the last three weeks. Now it's uncertain when he will be back.
This means the starting linebacker corps will have three Plan B signees--Shipp, Wilson and Thomas Benson--and a converted end, Greg Townsend. Townsend, of course, is more of a fourth lineman, with the Raiders hoping the opposition will tend to free him, a la Charles Haley of the San Francisco 49ers, or Kevin Greene of the Rams.
Townsend, who weighed 247 at the end of last season but came to camp at 274, was supposed to get down to 255.
He almost made it. He's at 259.
One more move remains: Running back Marcus Allen, who is expected to start Sunday, isn't yet on the roster. In as close to a joke as was heard Wednesday, Mike Shanahan sardonically noted there is "a good chance" Allen will be activated. . . . Rookie halfback Derrick Gainer, the leading ground gainer in exhibitions (don't get excited, he had 68 yards and a three-yard average), was cut to make a spot for Mike Haynes. Despite the indifferent numbers, Gainer, the No. 8 pick from Florida A&M;, had some impressive moments and will probably be retained on the "development squad." . . . Cornerback Dennis Price is still practicing on his sore knee, so apparently he'll escape injured reserve.