Oakland Raiders training camp: Jack Del Rio speaks on Day 4

OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 09: Karl Joseph
OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 09: Karl Joseph /

Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio met with the media after Day 4 of training camp up in Napa Valley. He seemed very ready for a day off on Wednesday.

When Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio took to the podium to address the media out in wine country, you could tell right away that he wasn’t overly thrilled with the way practice went. He called Day 4 of training camp “a little sloppy”, mostly pointing out the ball being on the ground quite a good bit. It happens to the best of teams.

The Raiders have had a good first few days of camp, but this wasn’t one of them. Del Rio told the media that his guys will be off on Wednesday. They will be hitting the ground running again on Thursday. It’s clear that Del Rio isn’t accepting anything less than excellence this fall, nor should he. You can tell by the firm tone of his voice. All the more reason he is clearly the right man for the job in Oakland.

Del Rio seemed glad to have rookie cornerback Gareon Conley back in the fold. The Raiders organization had anticipated him returning after his charges had been dropped. That being said, Del Rio made it a point to not spend any time discussing left tackle Donald Penn‘s contract status. Del Rio preferred to speak on the guys presently at Raiders camp.

He did have a funny moment during the presser. Del Rio was asked that despite he, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. and general manager Reggie McKenzie all being former NFL linebackers why the position group currently in Oakland leaves a lot to be desired, Coach Del Rio wonderfully spun that around with by joking if McKenzie wanted to come out of retirement.

On a serious note, Del Rio would say that the Raiders “haven’t attacked that one the same way” when it comes to team building. The idea is that Del Rio and Norton can coach up the inside linebackers, while McKenzie looks for big-time playmakers in the pass rush and secondary.

“I like the spirit of this football team. We’ve got a good group of men and we know that we’ve got a lot of work in front of us.” – Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio after a tough day of practice Tuesday

Del Rio mentioned two linebackers on Tuesday in his press conference: recently acquired Jelani Jenkins and rookie Marquel Lee.

The idea is that Jenkins will replaced Malcolm Smith and that Lee will eventually rock the green dot in the middle of the defense.

From Del Rio’s tone, it seems that he has informed Jenkins of his well-defined role with the team. As for Lee, he is pleased with how the former Wake Forest Demon Deacon is coming along.

As for some of the other young players, Del Rio likes what he is seeing out of outside linebacker Shilique Calhoun and strong safety Karl Joseph. Calhoun had boom-or-bust potential coming out of Michigan State, but Del Rio thinks that last year’s experience will do wonders for him in year two.

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Now with Joseph, he might be the guy that’s most poised to step up in 2017 from this young corps. Keep in mind that he was limited to only 12 games last season.

He was still an All-Rookie Team player and he was something else coming out of West Virginia.

There is a reason he went No. 14 to the Raiders in 2016. Del Rio called him a “tireless worker” with “no shortage of energy”. Those are two excellent things.

Though they largely went unnoticed during free agency, Del Rio does think McKenzie has made two sneaky, under-the-radar moves to better his roster.

Signing former Buffalo Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel and former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson could prove to be great for the Raiders in terms of depth. These are two former first-round picks by the way, playing for organizations that didn’t know how to use them properly.

While they struggled with their former teams, they’re taking this new opportunity in Oakland in stride. Manuel should be Derek Carr‘s backup. If Patterson can be that vertical threat he was that one year in Tennessee, that would be incredible. It would open up opportunities for Jared Cook, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree to make plays in the middle of the field for Carr.

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Overall, Del Rio was not satisfied with today’s effort from the team. He prefers his team to “practice crisper, sharper, cleaner football”. Clearly, there is a new standard for the Silver and Black. Going 12-4 and making the AFC Playoffs was no fluke. This team can go as far as it wants to in the AFC. Del Rio having high expectations for his roster is a great thing for this young team.