With the newness of camp worn off, it was time to get settled in. The Raiders had another near full house for the second day of camp. Aaron Curry, Shane Lechler, Ron Bartell, and Travis Ivey were still not practicing and no word on any of their returns although none have serious injuries and should be back soon. Ivey doesn't have an injury at all. He is just out of shape and didn't pass his conditioning test.
Joining them on the sideline at some point in practice was Richard Gordon who went out with a hip flexor and Mike Goodson tweaked his hamstring. I spoke to Goodson after practice and he said it was more of a cramp and should be good to go tomorrow. No word on if Gordon will be back tomorrow.
The pace was not as fast today in practice. It was a pretty warm day and combined with the players being sore from the first day of camp, they weren't quite as spry. But with pads coming tomorrow, that will change real quick.
The defense stepped up today and made some nice plays both at the line and in the secondary. There was a good deal of pressure in the backfield run support from the linebackers. Much most notably there was good play from the secondary, especially DeMarcus Van Dyke who is filling in for the injured Ron Bartell. Mike Mitchell had the lone interception on the day but there was good coverage overall.
On offense, the best play came from the tight ends. All of them made some nice plays at one point or another. Tory Humphrey showed up today and made some plays. He runs very crisp routes and has surprising hands for a guy who is known more for being a blocking tight end. On the flip side, Ausberry showed some nice skills as a blocker along with some plays as a receiver. Kyle Efaw got into the act with a nice diving catch. Gordon was the one member of the group who didn't look so good. He dropped a pass right on the numbers from Palmer and later went out injured.
The punt return group was pretty crowded, consisting of Jacoby Ford, Derek Carrier, DeAundre Muhammad, Denarius Moore, and Juron Criner. I would have expected to see Taiwan Jones back there but for whatever reason he was not. Ford is the team's kick returner but it's possible they could ask him to do both if they decide they would rather Denarius focus on being a receiver.
Speaking of Denarius; if it seems like you haven't been hearing much from him of late, it's for good reason. He is still feeling some residual effects from the hamstring injury that had him out of minicamp. Once he is back fully healthy, I expect to see him make some plays like we got used to seeing in his rookie training camp of 2011.
As of tomorrow, the Raiders will don pads for the first time this year. The intensity will pick up and we will get a much better indication of the talent on the defense as well as the offense. I don't talk much about the running backs because there is no hitting so it is near impossible to tell if the big runs we see are the result of no contact. The play at the line of scrimmage will become more clear as well. The cream will soon rise to the top.
To keep up with my live tweets from camp, follow me on Twitter @LeviDamien.