Raiders number one cornerback, Ron Bartell, has yet to take the practice field in training camp for his new team. That is a hard thing for a guy who is looking to show he is still a starting cornerback in the NFL. But unfortunately he has been relegated to light jogging all camp and watching his teammates practice.
It has been Bartell's hamstring that has been giving him problems and after passing his physical on Sunday, he was on the field practicing with his teammates on Monday. With the new CBA rules, he is not allowed to practice full for three days which means he was wearing shells and wasn't allowed full contact.
For a guy who takes pride in his physicality, Bartell said "Did a little less than I wanted to do." But, even still, it felt good for him to be back for his first practice of camp.
"They gave me an opportunity to get out there and get in the group periods, get my feet wet a little bit." Said Bartell. "Felt good. It's a process. We have to stay within the rules so I couldn't practice in pads but it was just good to get out there and get some plays in."
In the team periods he was able to participate in, he made some plays, which is all the more impressive considering he has not been able to practice and progress along with his teammates. One particular play, he caught up to Darrius Heyward-Bey and reached him right as the ball did to knock it away.
"I gotta get the timing back but I thought I moved around pretty well. I was in tune to what we had going on defensively so it was just a matter of getting my technique back and get my feet back underneath me and I'm good to go from there."
Normally not being in full pads wouldn't be as much of an issues but the Raider practiced tackling to the ground today for the first time this camp and therefore, when that time came, Bartell was on the sideline watching his teammates again. Per Dennis Allen, the tackling periods will get longer each day leading up to their first preseason game which means Bartell will be back watching that period again tomorrow but for a longer time.
"Cornerback, we get paid to do more than just cover. I pride myself on being a complete player. I played safety before so I understand all about the running game. It's part of my game that I always want to improve on and part of my game I accept the challenge of. Not a lot of cornerbacks look forward to tackling so I want to separate myself from the rest and just be known as a complete corner. Me coming up tackling and having to fit in the run is no problem, I've done my whole career and I understand it's a big part of us winning football games."
"You have to enjoy it. If it's something you take pride in, and I take pride in being a good cornerback so I definitely enjoy it, I understand the importance of it and I'm not gonna shy away from it."
"We have to make a lot of plays in space especially when we have a running back that breaks through. It may not be always pretty but the fact of the matter is our job is to get guys down and give us another chance to go out there and make a play. So, I'll do whatever's necessary, throw my body in there, get some big hits when we need it but most times it's just about getting the guy on the ground."
It was a big hit that caused Bartell to break his neck and be out all of the 2011 season. The Rams released him thinking his career could be over which is how he was available for the Raiders to sign as a free agent. He said that his neck is "110%" and though he passed his physical Sunday, his hamstring is still a little sore.
"I mean, it's sore here and there, but as far as me being afraid to pull it, that's not an issue. I can manage the pain. The issue that we had before is it was hard for me to open up and run. So we had a fear of me pulling the hamstring, which would have put me out a lot longer. So I think we're past that now so I just manage it with treatment and keep doing the side stretching and I'll be fine."
When he came back into the lineup, he immediately was given his starting left cornerback spot with Shawntae Spencer lining up on the right.