Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Raiders did not have a practice on Tuesday. They get back on the practice field Wednesday. No word on if it will be padded or not. I’m interested to see who gets back on the field Wednesday after missing Monday’s practice. The Raiders first few practices have been positive all around. All reports from the beat writers at practice and the national traveling reporters who stop by practice, have been good.
I’m extremely excited by the reports on Matt Schaub. The positive vibe I got from Schaub really started in the offseason. Reading stories of him taking the team out and gathering the players for throwing sessions, had me encouraged. It’s just carried over to camp and I appreciate having a proven veteran QB. I can’t say it enough, it’s a Quarterback league and no single factor effects your Win/Loss record more than the QB.
Probably the deepest positions on the team. Yes, DMC and MJD are coming off injury/sub par years. But Sheets and Murry can step in for either if need be. Wide Receiver has been bit by the injury bug. Streeter (concussion), Criner (hammy), and Little (hammy) either didn’t start or couldn’t finish practice on Monday. Those injuries have allowed Seth Roberts more snaps and he’s taking advantage of it, catching everything in sight. Denarius Moore has had some nice grabs and only one day of the dropsies, which the whole team seem to have that day. Holmes is winning his share of battles. James Jones is said to have an obvious connection with Schaub, with scribes on site saying he is clearly his favorite target. The tight ends are down a Kasa (on the PUP list with a hip. Has been working on the side with a trainer), but picked up an Ausberry, who has returned after missing all of last season with shoulder surgery. Our boy Rivera is still there, making grabs and sealing the end with blocks.
The line has been another star of camp. They are meshing nicely with Penn, Barnes, Wiz, Howard and Watson. Word is 2014 draft pick Gabe Jackson will eventually replace Barnes. The line has been opening up some nice run lanes and winning their fair share of one on one drills with the Defense. This unit will feature at least two new faces and probably three. It’s just the first week of camp, but I couldn’t be happier with this group.
Defensive Front 7
Reggie did the most work to this group in the offseason. He went out and got four new starters. Tuck, Woodley, and Smith arrived via Free Agency. Then he drafted Khalil Mack in the first round of the draft. I think this group is the most versatile the Raiders have had and that fits with the Allen/Tarver scheme they want to run. The coaching staff has their horses now, I’m expecting a top 15 defense this year, lead by this front seven. They have been holding their own in camp thus far.
Coming into camp I was most critical of the depth in the back half of the defense. Especially at the Cornerback position. Reggie brought in both of the 49ers starting corners from last year. Solid, but not spectacular. They have DJ Haden, who is starting camp on the PUP list, 4 weeks after foot surgery, which is said to have a 4-8 week recovery period. But maybe I was worried about nothing. 2014 7th round draft pick TJ Carrie has looked good in camp so far. So has third year player Chimdi Chekwa. Hopefully they keep it up and provide that much needed depth in the new NFL, which is a passing league. Back up safety Usama Young got hurt (Quad) during the conditioning test last Thursday and has yet to participate in a practice. The Raiders really need Tyvon Branch to step up and earn his pro-bowl salary cap number of $7M. His pass coverage skills have been his weak spot and Coach Allen says he’s seen improvement so far in camp. That needs to continue. This group is trading plays with the offense, which as Coach Allen says, you like to have that trading of punches between your units, in the form of successful plays.
If not for the PUP status of DJ Hayden, I would have given the Raiders an A so far in training camp. The play is crisp, the attitude is focused and the vibes are good. Now they just need to stack good day on top of good day, working their way to THE MOTHAFLOCKIN PLAYOFFS!!! RRRRAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIDDDDDDEEEEEEERRRRRRSSSSSSS!!!!