On Thursday the Raiders were in full pads again for the fourth practice in a row. Coach Allen praised the team for having a better practice than the day before. He said he is proud of the team after the first week of training camp. Coach Allen stressed that camp is about getting better every day and he feels confident that the team has been doing that. The Raiders also had the zebras at practice for the first time. Not too much laundry today, only a couple false starts and one defensive holding. Good news all around.
Everybody finished practice on Thursday. CJ Wilson came off the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list to participate in his first practice. Austin Howard who couldn’t finish last practice with a back flare up, was back on the practice field. Antonio Smith sat out practice with a groin issue. Coach Allen says it’s getting better and doesn’t anticipate him being out long. Still out with hamstrings are: Jurion Criner (in danger of being part of the first round of cuts), Greg Little, Kaluka Maiava and Shelton Johnson. Marshall McFadded still is out with the hip flexor. Still on the Physically Unable to Perform list are: DJ Hayden, Usama Young and Lucas Nix. Finally, Stacy McGee is still out with his broken thumb, he is on the NFI list.
Matt Schaub threw three interceptions today, one off the hands of Holmes and two to Charles Woodson. His first to Chuck was on a would be sack, that he just threw up to the receiver as he was rolling out. The second was legit and Chuck took it to the house. Like Coach Allen, I’m not going to panic, unless he starts throwing pick 6′s in every practice. What I’m sure happened, is after practice, Schaub picked Woodson’s brain, asking him what he saw, what he was thinking, etc. Two savvy veterans communicating to help each other get better. The offensive line continues to jell and work hard. I can’t tell you enough how excited I am to see this group in game action. Overall the Offense didn’t have as good a day as the Defense.
Khalil Mack is starting to make his presence felt in Napa. He blew up Mychal Rivera on one run play and was flying around making several plays at or behind the line of scrimmage. I get goose bumps imagining what this kid can become. Cornerbacks TJ Carrie, Neiko Thorpe and Chimdi Chekwa turned in solid practices once again. Rookie Jonathan Dowling had an interception today, diving for a ball off the hands of Andre Holmes. We noted Woodson and his two picks earlier. After his first he ran along the row of fans in attendance, giving high fives. Nick Roach wrote on his blog that he feels this defense is very physical and is communicating very well.
The Raiders are searching for a punt and kick returners. Coach Allen highlighted Denarius Moore and TJ Carrie as possible punt returners. Local beat writers at camp have praised Latavius Murray as a possible kick returner and how natural he looks doing it. Jano actually kicks into uprights that are very similar to Arena Football goal posts width, while at camp. Both he and King have been working hard to make sure we don’t have a let down like last year.
We just finished week one of the 2014 Training Camp. We still got 4 preseason games and one joint practice with Dallas to go. But I’m excited. These guys are remaining relatively healthy and have been stacking solid practices on top of each other. Even missing DJ Haden has turned out to be a positive as we have seen guys step up with their added reps. I have my fingers crossed, but this is shaping up to be a great season for our Raiders.