Training camp notes: Day 11

Oakland Raiders cornerback Shawntae Spencer at 2012 minicamp (photo by Levi Damien)

It was the final full practice before the Raiders first preseason game. The "Celebrity" appearances continued today as Jon Gruden was at Raiders training camp for the first time since he was the team's head coach. He and Mike Tirico will be calling the game for ESPN in the first Monday Night Football broadcast of the season.

Also making an appearance was former Raider linebacker and current Bay Area TV personality, Bill Romanowski.

They were back in shells and shorts again after one day with full contact in pads. You would have thought it was full contact out there though, with the way players were getting injured.

Two different players went out with what Dennis Allen described as "significant". First it was linebacker Mario Kurn to went down holding his knee, then within not even five plays, wide receiver Duke Calhoun went down clutching his knee. Kurn eventually got up and was helped off by two trainers. Then after getting his knee worked on, he gingerly walked to the training room.

Calhoun's injury appeared to be more serious. He couldn't even get off the field with the help of trainers. He made it a few feet and sat on an ice chest until the cart came out and picked him up and drove him to the training room.

The linebacker and receiver corps are already getting a bit thin from injuries. Receivers Denarius Moore and Eddie McGee have been nursing hamstring injuries and the linebackers lacked depth even without Aaron Curry missing camp with a knee injury.

Others still out with injury were Shane Lechler (knee), Taiwan Jones (hamstring), Mike Goodson (neck), Zach Hurd (head), and Brandon Myers (shoulder). Myers suffered his shoulder injury yesterday and all tests were negative but, like the others, there is no timetable for his return.

Returning from injuries were Richard Seymour, Jack Crawford, and Tyvon Branch. Crawford and Seymour had missed most of the past week with knee issues and Branch missed just Friday's practice with back spasms. Darrius Heyward-Bey left practice yesterday with a knee injury but was back today with no ill effects.

And now that I have written nearly an entire article just about the injuries, let's talk about the guys who have actually been practicing.

It was give and take between the offense and defense today. Then again, the defense seems to get the better of the offense whenever they put on pads so since there was no contact, it makes sense the offense would step up a bit.

There were a lot of dropped balls today which is a little odd considering there were no pads to get in the way of securing the ball. And it was players who normally have sure hands. First it was Marcel Reece dropping a perfect swing pass right in his hands from Palmer, then it was Jacoby Ford who torched Shawntae Spencer on a long ball only to watch another nice throw from Palmer bounce off his hands. Next play, Palmer throws a ball just behind Streater and he can't come up with it. Later, Streater, who has been very sure-handed, drops another one.

Streater didn't let his drop get him down as a few plays later, he had the catch of the day, laying out to grab a hot pass from Palmer.

On the other side of that, one of the more suspect handed players, Richard Gordon, has been catching the ball very well. In the recently released depth chart, he was named the second string tight end over David Ausberry and he has played like it.

The best defense of the day has to be that of Shawntae Spencer. The Jacoby long ball drop in which he burned him not withstanding, Spencer was in lockdown mode the rest of the day. On another long ball, Spencer was stride for stride in tight coverage on Ford. He is also one of the few defensive backs who has been able to handle Juron Criner in short yardage. In the first week of camp, Spencer looked to be in serious danger of losing his starting job to Demarcus Van Dyke but I think we can put that theory to rest for the moment.

On the opposite end of that is Chimdi Chekwa who has struggled to stop anything coming his way. He has been passed up on the depth chart by Pat Lee and is in serious danger of not even making this team if he doesn't get it together. His play in the game will be critical.

The Raiders just have a walk thru practice Sunday morning before heading to the Raider Nation Celebration Sunday afternoon. Then the next time we see them is Monday Night Football against the Cowboys.

As I have done all through training camp, will be live tweeting from the press box during the Raiders preseason game on Monday. You can follow me on Twitter @LeviDamien.

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