Oakland Raiders running back Lonyae Miller at 2012 training camp (photo by Levi Damien)
We're counting down the days to the Raiders first preseason game of 2012. It's Friday and after a day in shells and a day off, they're back in pads, ready for full contact.
Joining those not practicing is Tyvon Branch with back spasms. He joins the usual suspects not practicing Shane Lechler (knee), Eddie McGee (hamstring), Taiwan Jones (hamstring), Mike Goodson (neck), Aaron Curry (knee), Jack Crawford (foot), and Richard Seymour (knee).
We found out today that Curry's knee injury is not healing as quickly as they had hoped so Curry was not in attendance at practice as he was seeing a specialist about it.
Those who didn't finish practice today include Zach Hurd, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Brandon Myers. Hurd suffered a head injury of unknown severity, DHB left late with a knee injury. As for Myers, Mike Michell landed on him hard and he injured his shoulder. He was down on the turf for a while and eventually was escorted off the field by a trainer. He will get some tests done and we'll know how severe the injury is by tomorrow.
There's no timetable for return on any of those players although at this point, I wouldn't expect to see any of them in the preseason opener. Even if they were to have played, it wouldn't be for more than a series or two anyway so there is no big rush to get any of them back.
Right off the top, it was apparent there was a lot of kinks with regard to Lonyae Miller and the offense. He will be carrying the bulk of the load on Monday so they were getting him a lot of reps today, including some with the first team. The first handoff, Palmer and Miller collided and fumbled the ball. Later on, Lonyae runs into Mike Brisiel on a stunt left and the disruption allows Lamarr Houston to stop him behind the line. They have two practices to work out the kinks before it's game time.
And in case you were wondering, Darren McFadden was practicing but they were splitting up the carries so as to get Miller some more reps in preparation for the preseason opener.
The game preparation is in full swing at practice as the team runs actual game scenarios. Palmer can often be seen changing the play at the line of scrimmage. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. One particular time, he changed the play, Huff called out the defense and yelled for Mitchell to play off his man guessing it would be a long pass. He was right but Palmer checked down to Myers on a tight crossing route and got a short gain out of it.
The defense continues to impress in camp. I don't see any reason for concern with regard to the offense because we know what kind of weapons they have. The concern has always been with the defense, and they are looking pretty solid.
The defensive play of the day had Palmer drop back and attempt a pass over the middle and Rolando McClain jumped the route. The ball went through his hands but he tipped it and Mike Mitchell came down with it.
There wasn't a lot of great plays on offense. But late in team sessions, they ran game a game scenario starting backed against their own goal line. Second team went first and it ended after a couple plays with Matt Leinart throwing right to Miles Burris as if he didn't see him at all. The first team went next and they stuck more to running plays and fell short of the first down by two yards. The third team, led by Terrelle Pryor, was the only group to get a first down just as the session ended.
The real show came in an odd place-field goals. Sebastian Janikowski got it started off. He kicked it high and nailed the videographer perched atop the cherry picker behind the goal posts. He did a similar thing Monday while fans were in attendance. He would kick one more and that was his day of work.
Then camp leg, Eddy Carmona stepped in and that's when it got really interesting. His first kick nailed the left upright. Then he lined up and kicked on through. His third nailed the left upright again. And just when I said it my head "I bet you can't do that again", damned if he didn't nail that left upright again. And just when everyone was thinking how crazy and impossible it would be that he do it again, HE DID IT AGAIN!
I swear he hit that left upright for a fourth time out of five kicks. And I guarantee you he was not doing it on purpose. A camp leg doesn't come out in a practice session and play trick field goal games. If he wanted to do that, he would have aimed for the camera guy like Janikowski did. At least then, it would mean a high splitting of the uprights. Instead of HITTING of the uprights. Never seen anything like it. And Dennis Allen agreed.
Back tomorrow bright and early at 8:50am for the last full practice before the preseason opener.
As always, keep up with my live tweets during practice @LeviDamien.