It was a training camp that might have been destined to be labelled as a disaster from Day One for the 2013 Oakland Raiders as their stay in Napa was one that was plagued by injuries and growing pains on a roster that many didn’t know what to expect from before practices starter. Now after weeks of practice Raider Nation knows what it has going into the 2013 regular season. Kind of.
Kind of because injuries kept many key Raiders preseason figures out of the lineup. D.J. Hayden wore a red no contact jersey for all but the final week of training camp, Jacoby Ford got injured again, Pat Sims and Vance Walker went down to injury on the defensive line, Jared Veldheer went down and the Raiders offensive line was decimated with that. If a Raiders fan felt cursed reading the daily injury reports out of Napa it would be hard to fault them. At times it seemed like the world was falling down on Napa Valley on certain days this summer.
However it would be a hopeful day on Wednesday as the Raiders closed 2013 Training Camp in Napa Valley ahead of Friday’s home game with the Chicago Bears at the O.co. Pat Sims and second round draft pick Menelik Watson returned to practice to close out camp, an encouraging sign going into the final week of the preseason after the Chicago game.
Watson is expected to practice all of next week before playing in the Raiders final preseason game. Huge news for a guy Dennis Allen is hoping can move into the left tackle position with Veldheer gone to injury.
While Sims will also not play on Friday, the Raiders got the return of Vance Walker to the lineup to help on the defensive line. If Walker can produce on Friday and Sims can return in time for Week One, the Raiders defensive line worries might just be a little more resolved before taking on the Colts.
While key players still remain out of the lineup it is a good end to camp with some of those key missing elements returning to the fold with the halfway point of the NFL preseason just passed. The more healthy Raiders the better.
Expect more storylines to develop over the weekend as the first round of cuts are coming across the NFL with reports indicating that Reggie McKenzie will be looking to add some pieces from other NFL teams after they make their first cuts. Salvaging whatever he can find with little 2013 cap space and an eye on keeping salary commitments low for a rebuilding project.