Oakland Raiders 2014 Rookie Minicamp: Coaches mentally testing new Raiders


Jun 11, 2013; Alameda, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie (left), former players George Atkinson and Willie Brown and owner Mark Davis (right) at minicamp at the Raiders Practice Facility. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After the 2014 NFL Draft the first stage of the 2014 Preseason is finally upon us as the Oakland Raiders rookies have been going through the paces in Alameda this weekend, all trying to impress their new coaches in their first practices with the organization they all hope to become future stars with.

But first there is the basics of getting familiar with the ins and outs of the type of football the 2014 Raiders will be playing, something that according to CSNBayArea’s Scott Bair is being done by throwing as much information as possible at their rookies in order to get them up to speed for when the veterans get to join the season preparations.

From Bair:

"A few passes sailed on quarterback Derek Carr. Receiver Mike Davis dropped a pass. Nobody practicing Friday at the Raiders rookie minicamp was perfect.That’s to be expected during a period of intense instruction where 23 rookies or first-year players, and probably as many just here trying out, are learning the ropes. There’s nothing much to be gleaned from a pad-less workout with player trying to apply a scheme they’re executing on the fly.The Raiders throw a ton of information at these young players to see how they absorb and apply."

One of those reasons according to Raiders head coach Dennis Allen is because of the differences in expectations from college coaches, where many players are one-system based to the NFL playbooks that incorporate a little bit of everything. Something that is even more true in Oakland where Allen along with defensive coordinator Jason Tarver enjoy operating a “Hybrid” defense of many different base schemes for young players to get familiar with.

“It seems like a lot to them because in college they’re not used to doing a whole lot of different things,” Allen said to Bair. “It is a shock to their system. It’s very scaled back from what we’re going to do as we get into the season with the veterans.”

What the Raiders are doing at minicamp appears to be pretty standard around the league, giving their rookies a broad introduction to “Raiders 101” in order for them to be prepared and as close to up to speed as possible before the veterans join the mix. After all, that is what rookie minicamp is for in addition to seeing what your draft picks and UDFA’s can and can’t do before they are thrown in with proven NFL players the next week as the minicamp season rears on.

“It seems like a lot to them because in college they’re not used to doing a whole lot of different things,” Allen said. “It is a shock to their system. It’s very scaled back from what we’re going to do as we get into the season with the veterans.”

That proven blueprint is something that Allen echoed as the next step for the Raiders who are going to be working a lot of new faces in as part of their complete roster reconstruction after two seasons of taking dead money off their salary cap. Something that likely could help the young Raiders rookies from getting lost in translation once the vets enter the fray.

Allen expects the rookies to be prepared to get in-depth once the veterans join the minicamp routine, something that likely won’t be a problem as every player will be likely starting from basically square one with a overhaul on both offense and defense when it comes to personnel and perhaps philosophy.

“They’ll have an opportunity to get a lot more in-depth into what we’re going to do schematically on both sides of the ball as we get them back in with the veterans next week,” Allen said. “Then we start the OTAs the week after that.”

First overall draft pick Khalil Mack told Bair that he has been embracing the high expectation of learning on the fly the Raiders coaches have brought to this weekend’s proceedings.

“No doubt they’re doing that on purpose,” first-round linebacker Khalil Mack said. “They’re dumping a bunch of stuff on you to see how you adapt and how much you can handle. The want to see if you can play under pressure, and they want to see how you respond. It’s been great. I’m excited to learn all about this scheme.”

For the handful of Raiders draft picks and the UDFA underdogs looking to make the team, mistakes are to be expected in what is a low pressure time for mostly all of the attendees as cuts will not be based on the performance of a May workout for those who have realistic shots of making the team’s final roster come the end of preseason. However what is important is learning the ins and outs of being a professional football player with the Oakland Raiders, something that starts with these early practices.