Photo by Tony Gonzales/raiders.com
Finally, my favorite position to watch of the day. Maybe it’s due to the fact that I played DB in High School? Actually, this unit had one of the best performances during practice. These CB’s and S’s are extremely aggressive, and they are being led by two proven professionals in Charles Woodson and Carlos Rogers. This unit is better than we initially expected.
Charles Woodson may be 37 years of age, but he runs around like he’s 24. He was a Pro-Bowl and Hall of Fame player as a CB, and I can see him turning in a Pro-Bowl performance this year as a Safety. He is a lot of fun to watch. Equally impressive was Carlos Rogers. He played mostly as a Nickel Slot, but the coverage he held on Andre Holmes, Denarius Moore, and Mychal Rivera was blanket coverage. Brice Butler and Rashaan Vaugh couldn’t catch against him. I loved both Woodson’s and Rogers’ intensity that they brought to practice.
Tarell Brown is going to be a fun player to watch Ladies and Gentlemen. He does a great job, and he’s not fooled by much. One play that really had the crowd going nuts was against Andre Holmes. Now remember, Andre Holmes is 6′ 4″ tall, and Brown is 5′ 11″. That didn’t keep Brown from making an outstanding play. Matt Schaub threw a beautiful ball that only Holmes could catch high above Brown’s head. Holmes had it in both his hands and he came down with both fee on the ground. Then, Brown swatted it out of Holmes hands. The ball fell to the ground, FUMBLE! Brown scooped it up and took it in for a TD. He’s impressive.
Now I can see why T.J. Carrie is impressing coaches and fans so much in practice. He is a workhorse, and his coverages skills are above average. He’s quick, tall, and smart. Not much got passed him. He was running with the 1st team defense and splitting time there with Chimdi Chekwa. Carrie kept pretty good coverage on Rod Streater and James Jones. He still has much to learn, but the 7th Round Draft Pick may turn out to be our diamond in the rough.
As I said, Chekwa was running with the 1st team offense, and he was making the most of this opportunity. His coverage skills have improved, and he made it tough for all WR’s and QB’s to complete passes. I like his chances this year.
Neiko Thorpe did not have that great of a practice, and he was pretty quiet most of the day. Keith McGill aggravated his ankle again, but he stuck it out and turned in a solid practice. He’s another special player of ours coming out of the draft. I can definitely see the Raiders keeping 5 CB’s. From this practice I would say that the 5 CB’s would be (Tarell Brown, Carlos Rogers, D.J. Hayden, T.J. Carrie, and Keith McGill).
D.J. Hayden was out of his walking boot and he didn’t appear to be hobbling or limping at all. As a matter of fact, he came over and signed autographs for the crowd at the end of practice. He seemed upbeat and ready to get back on the field. I asked him how things were coming along and he stated, “I’m getting there.” I told him that we needed him out there and he stated, “I can’t wait to be out here.” Then I told him my favorite moment was watching him intercept the pass from Philip Rivers in the end zone to stop a TD, and he stated, “There will be a whole lot more of that this year, I promise.” Raider Nation, he’s coming back and soon!
Almost forgot to discuss the Safety’s. Aside from Woodson and Tyvon Branch turning in solid performances, the next best and most impressive one was #41 Jonathan Dowling. Man this kid is going to be good. His coverage skills are above par, and he can close a running gap really fast. If they had pads on, he would have lit up MJD, McFadden, and Murray on a couple of plays. He kept the TE’s at bay most of the day. Not only that, but he will definitely be a key figure on Special Teams. The Secondary is shaping up really nice. More than likely there will be 4 S’s kept. My money is on Woodson, Branch, Young, and Dowling.
Special note: Taiwan Jones had a decent day, but his most impressive stuff was on punt and kick coverage. He is a gunner, and he likes to crack heads.