The Raiders had their first crowd of 2012 in camp today. It is the first of three days in which fans will be present to watch the team practice. Some 1000 fans were in attendance and it gave the whole place a completely different feel.
The fans were itching to catch the first glimpse of this team take the field. The team took the field to cheers as if they were coming out of the tunnel onto the field at O.co coliseum. There was a buzz during walk thrus to begin practice and something as simple as warm-ups drew a cheer from an eager group of fans hungry for any kind of action.
There were times in which the energy would come down when the team was not doing anything new or exciting. But chief executive Amy Trask was quick to go over and get the crowd back into it. The fans loved that Trask took personal interest in them. They would go crazy whenever any of the players would acknowledge them.
Tommy Kelly was closest to the crowd in warm-ups, prompting several members of the crowd to yell his name. One fan even yelled "Rick Ross!" the rapper who resembles Kelly.
When Denarius Moore got near the crowd as well, they began calling for him. He responded with a thumbs up and again, the crowd went nuts.
The practice was not tailored for an audience either. The format was exactly as it would have been if there was just the handful of media who are typically on hand for any other day of camp. But there was definitely a different feel to it.
"I thought it was good," said Dennis Allen. "I thought the fans were great. I thought the players reacted well to it. At the end of the day this league is what it is because of the fans so our ability to do something to give back and give them an opportunity to come and check out what we're doing here, there's a lot of excitement around here. I thought it was a good situation both for the fans and for us as an organization."
Practicing in front of an audience so early on typically causes one of two types of play: nervousness or excitement. It was tough to tell who may have been overly nervous but one player I had a hunch would be on his game for the crowd was rookie receiver Juron Criner. And he didn't disappoint.
He had a great day receiving. Arguably his best day of training camp. He admitted that he got up for the fans.
The man who put on a show every day of camp last season was Denarius Moore. He wasn't practicing on Wednesday after tweaking the hamstring he suffered in OTA's. He was back practicing today but was clearly not 100% and couldn't make the same acrobatic plays to which we became accustomed.
There wasn't much for acrobatics in general but there was a few nice plays that got a rise out of the crowd. The biggest reactions came from a long ball sideline connection from Carson Palmer to Jacoby Ford and a loud block from Owen Schmitt to open up a lane for Taiwan Jones to run through.
Fans will be in attendance at Raiders camp the next couple days. You must have received a ticket to be allowed entrance.