With Tom Flores unavailable to play quarterback in the near term and with roster reductions looming, Raiders head coach Eddie Erdelatz was planning to give more playing time to the men on the far end of the bench, starting with Paul Larson. So far, Larson hadn’t shown all that much in camp, displaying an inaccurate arm. Consequently, he had received almost no in-game opportunities, but he was going to get a chance tomorrow, sharing time with Babe Parilli. Plenty of other neglected players were going to get their chances, too.
The Raiders announced a big signing today with the addition of Babe Parilli, a 6’2″, 205-pound quarterback out of Kentucky. He had a storied college career with the Wildcats, making first-team All-America in 1950 and 1951 and leading his team to an upset win over Oklahoma in the 1951 Sugar Bowl and was named player of the game in the 1952 Cotton Bowl. His pro career was a little less successful. The Green Bay Packers chose him in the first round in 1952, but poor accuracy and a tendency to throw interceptions limited his opportunities during his time in the NFL. After the Packers let him go in 1958, he played a season in Canada for the Ottawa Rough Riders. His arrival in Oakland followed a long period of negotiation, but the Raiders finally hooked him.
After his first practice, head coach Eddie Erdelatz said he “liked what I saw.” Parilli’s signing increased the number of quarterbacks on the roster to five: Tom Flores, Paul Larson, Bobby Newman, Bob Webb, and Parilli.
Additionally, the team signed 5’10”, 185-pound halfback Luther “Hit and Run” Carr. A third-team All-Pacific Coast Conference performer at the University of Washington, Carr had been drafted in the 21st round of the 1959 draft by the 49ers, but was cut by them just before the start of the regular season. More recently, Carr had been in camp with the Chargers, but that team had let him go just a few days prior to his signing with the Raiders. Initially, he would be fourth on the depth chart at the position.
From the medical staff, the team received some bad news when they learned that their starting right tackle, Chris Plain, was probably out for the year with torn cartilage in his knee and a broken ankle. Plain had left the Titans game in the first quarter, but at the time the team didn’t consider the injury serious. However, x-rays showed differently. Either Joe Barbee or Don Churchwell would take his spot on the line.
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With Bob Webb’s return to the land of the infirm, the Raiders went out and signed former El Cerrito High and Washington State star quarterback Bobby Newman to a contract. The 6’2″ Newman had led the country in total offense as a junior with the Cougars in 1957 and were drafted by the 49ers the next year in the second round. However, he had subsequently washed out of three different NFL camps before being picked up by the Raiders.
Newman was happy to be in Oakland. “It’s great to be with a local team again,” he said, “and from all I hear it will be a pleasure to play for (head coach) Eddie Erdelatz.” Still, with just one day in camp he wouldn’t be ready to take the field against the Titans.
The New York squad was coming into the game with an 0-1 record, having lost their exhibition opener to the Chargers 27-7. Erdelatz wasn’t taking them lightly, though. In his estimation, the Titans had a number of high caliber players including their quarterbacks, Al Dorow and Dick Jamieson. Like many of his teammates, Dorow had significant NFL experience, spending three seasons with the Redskins and another with the Eagles. Jamieson was still a rookie, but had done some camp time with the Colts. Others with an NFL pedigree were fullback Fran Rogel, an eight-year veteran with the Steelers, several of them on the starting platoon, and rangy flanker, Don Maynard, a former Giants receiver and rated by Erdelatz as “one of the best ends I’ve seen”. On defense, former 49ers, Eagles, and Browns defensive end Sid Youngelman was showing well. But maybe the best defender on the team was a rookie linebacker out of Mississippi, Larry Grantham. Fortunately for the Raiders, he had broken his ankle against the Chargers and would be out for several weeks.
Holding the team together, aches, pains and all, was head coach Sammy Baugh. Eight years removed from a long career with the Washington Redskins in which he redefined the quarterbacking position for generations to come, Baugh was back in pro football after a stint coaching at Hardin-Simmons where he took the Cowboys to the 1958 Sun Bowl. Under his tutelage, the Titans were expected to run a “pass and trap” offense similar to that of the Cleveland Browns in their All-America Conference heyday.
Baugh was unperturbed by the loss in the preseason opener. “We made the usual first game errors,” he said, “and were not quite as far along as the Chargers. We will be a good club before this year is over because we have some potentially fine pros.”
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The Raiders returned to two-a-day practices on Wednesday with coach Erdelatz adding to both the offensive and defensive playbooks to expand the team’s repertoire. However, three players would practice with the team no more.
Among the cuts were guard Lou Byrd, tackle Fred Fehn who had missed most of camp with an injury, and one of yesterday’s pickups, fullback Jim Varnado, who was badly out of shape and apparently not likely to get into shape anytime soon. Also leaving camp was heretofore unmentioned guard Gil Ane, Hawaii native, and brother of former Detroit Lions Pro Bowl guard Charlie Ane, who was currently in camp with the expansion Cowboys in the NFL. Ane’s departure from camp was expected to be temporary as he was heading home to Oregon to care for a sick daughter.
Off the field, television dates were announced. The Raiders would appear on the local ABC affiliate, KGO, channel 7, four times throughout the year: September 25 at Houston, October 2 at Denver, October 9 at Dallas, and November 27 at Los Angeles.
The team had a day off following the game, but head coach Eddie Erdelatz took that time to review the films, and based on what he saw, cut five players the following morning: halfbacks Alex Gardner and Ray Peterson, tackle Willie Boykin, guard Bob Harrison, and defensive back Bob Fails. He then added one back in the person of 6’1″, 185-pound halfback John Harris, formerly of Santa Monica Junior College. Harris combined speed and strength as a runner for the Corsairs and made first team All-Metro Conference in 1957 and later spent a season with the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Most recently, he had been in Chargers camp, but had been waived, giving the Raiders a chance to pick him up. Also returning to the team was tackle Fred Fehn, who had spent the past couple of weeks nursing a leg injury. This put the head count at 48, five over the limit of the first mandatory cut on August 22.
Erdelatz said he found no surprises in the movies. “We’ll try and correct the mistakes made in that game before going on to the new stuff,” he said. “They performed well considering everything and we’re expecting considerable improvement by the time we play New York.” To that end, he held a surprise 90-minute scrimmage that focused on improving both the running and the passing game.
Afterward, even more changes were made. Guard Charlie Kaaihue, a potential first-teamer who had been temporarily sidelined because of injury, was cut for what was reported as “disciplinary reasons.” The team also announced the signing of yet two more players, fullback Jim Varnado, and end Charles Moore. Additionally, Erdelatz made an offensive line adjustment, moving Ron Sabal from right guard to right tackle, in place of Don Churchwell. Don Manoukian moved in to take Sabal’s spot at guard. And, finally, Varnado’s signing meant a move for Brad Myers from fullback to halfback.
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With the preseason opener just a week away, the Raiders took a break from the two-a-day practice schedule and held only a brief stretching session allowing the squad to recover from yesterday’s scrimmage. For a couple of players, though, the respite was going to be a bit longer as the team cut halfbacks Carl Gordon and Wayne Schneider, reducing the player count to 52. The Raiders still had another month to get down to the league’s first mandated roster limit of 43 on August 23.
Off the field, Chet Soda hired former Oakland Oaks and Stanford University public address announcer Stan Easterling to occupy the same post at Kezar Stadium.
Fully a week into training camp, the Raiders held their first scrimmage and head coach Eddie Erdelatz was cautiously pleased. “For the first time out it wasn’t too bad,” he said. At quarterback, Paul Larson looked a sharper than Tom Flores, completing 11 of 21 passes with many of the incompletions coming from receiver drops. Flores had a rougher time, connecting on just 5 of 14, throwing three interceptions. Third-stringer Bob Webb got off to a good start, connecting on the longest play of the day, an 18-yard pass to Charlie Hardy, but disaster struck when he went down with a knee injury. Trainer George Anderson said he may have torn cartilage and could need surgery, which would shut him down for the year. At other positions, tight end Gene Prebola, defensive end Carmen Cavalli, and cornerback Eddie Macon looked particularly good. Observers thought the defensive line played well as a group, but Erdelatz downplayed it, saying, “The defense is always ahead of the offense at this stage of the game.”
Once the scrimmage was over, it was time for another round of cuts, reducing the number of players in camp to 56. On their way out were tackle Cloyd Boyette, halfback Purcell Daniels, halfback Wes Fry, Jr., son of Raider player personnel director Wes Fry, Sr., tackle Willie Hudson, a former honorable mention AP Little All-American for Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo, who was in camp without a contract after getting cut by the Chargers, and Hudson’s former college teammate, tackle Rich Max.
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After a day’s rest, the squad returned to practice to find a newcomer in their ranks. Tom Louderback, a 6’2″, 230-pound guard/linebacker out of San Jose State. A two-year starter for the Spartans, Louderback made second-team UPI All-Coast in 1954. He was picked in the tenth round by the Redskins in 1955, but didn’t make it out of training camp and spent the rest of the year with Hamilton in the Canadian leagues. He signed with the Browns a year later, but joined the US Navy before the season. Mustering out in 1958, Cleveland cut him in September, after which he earned a starting linebacker spot with the Eagles, where he spent the next two seasons. He was now in Oakland to try his hand with the new league.
Meanwhile, two more players left camp. Citing personal reasons, backs Marv Lasater and George Blanch packed their bags and departed. The Raiders had had high hopes for Lasater, offering him a nice bonus to sign, but once in camp his lack of speed seemed to doom his chances to stick. Blanch had been installed on the third team and probably got out the door just before the headsman arrived.
On the field, head coach Eddie Erdelatz continued to push his charges hard and was very pleased with what he saw. “If they keep coming at this rate,” he said, “we’re going to fool a few teams.” Erdelatz was generous in his praise for members of the offensive line including tackle Chris Plain, guards Don Manoukian and Ron Sabal, and center Jim Otto. Defensive secondary members Alex Bravo, John Brown, LC Joyner, Eddie Macon, and Tony Teresa, were also mentioned by name as were receiver Charlie Hardy and defensive end Carmen Cavalli.
Over in sick bay, Charley Powell‘s strained Achilles tendon had healed enough to allow him to practice, but linebacker Buddy Alliston had pulled a groin muscle and took Powell’s place on the bench to recuperate.
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Hard work continued at Raider training camp. As the first week came to a close it was evident that getting the players in shape was the first goal of the coaching staff. Eddie Erdelatz was happy so far. “We’ve got our toughest week behind us now,” he said, “I’m satisfied with the improvement and I think we have accomplished our mission this first week. These players want to play and they have a great attitude, which is very important. They are hearing me, so to speak, and from what I observed they like this type of camp. After one week I think we have good backfield speed, which will improve as our timing is perfected. Our line has average speed, but again, this will improve as the big guys get into better shape, and the squad is beginning to work as a team.”
Tom Flores, who was the early frontrunner for the starting quarterback position, and end Charlie Hardy were standout performers on offense, while Wayne Crow and Tony Teresa were looking good on defense.
Still, the injuries kept coming. This time around it was running back Brad Myers. Myers, who hadn’t been mentioned in previous reports, was a 6’1″, 195-pound back out of Bucknell. He ended his collegiate career as the Bison’s career leader in rushing yards and points and made honorable mention Associated Press Little All-America in 1952. He was picked in the ninth round of the 1953 draft by the Rams and had a nice rookie season, but went into the army afterward. Upon returning to Los Angeles in 1956, he couldn’t quite regain his old form and an injury ended his season early. He was traded to the Steelers, but was cut in camp, then ended up with the Eagles in 1958, but played sparingly. Now with the Raider, he joined the many players who had succumbed to a muscle pull and was unable to practice for now.
There was also one defection on the day. Idaho end Walt Denny (misidentified in the Tribune as Idaho State end Jim Denny, of whom there is no record) decided he had had enough and left camp voluntarily.
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Most of the news out of Raider camp was about injuries. While the team had revised its estimate of the time Jim Woodard would be out downward to about a week, end Ron Beagle was facing the possibility of calling it quits due to a knee injury of his own. Beagle had hurt the knee a year earlier while playing for his service team at Camp Lejeune and had had surgery, but the old injury had flared up in camp and was not responding to treatment. Beagle worried that his time was up. “A pro club doesn’t carry an injured player too long,” he said, “It just isn’t financially sound.”
Head coach Eddie Erdelatz, who had coached Beagle during his days at the Naval Academy said he would “give him every opportunity, because when he’s right he’s tops.”
While Beagle considered his future, two more players left camp voluntarily. Brothers Clark and Dave Holden left together without giving a reason, but it was generally thought they were going to be in the next batch of cuts anyway.
On the practice field the coaches made a minor adjustment in the offensive lineup moving Billy Lott from halfback to Dean Philpott‘s fullback spot and installing Ray Peterson in the vacant halfback slot. Meanwhile, tryouts for the placekicking and punting duties continued and had come down to a competition between linebacker Larry Barnes and defensive back Bob Fails, both of whom were showing well in practice.