It was oddly peaceful walking onto the practice field in camp on Monday. Looking across the way to see the line of empty bleachers which had been filled with a loud crowd of Raider faithful. Even the weather started out quiet as the morning was overcast and there was a damp chill in the air.
The quiet didn't last too long, though. As the team finished their walk thrus and began warming up, the sound of bells could be heard... Hell's bells. The fans may not have been there, but AC/DC made the Raiders feel a little more like they were in O.co getting ready for a game. Then even the clouds dispersed and the sun came out to heat things up.
A couple of players joined the walking wounded today. Taiwan Jones had a slight hamstring issue in practice that had him sidelined and Richard Seymour was also not suited up with a hurt knee. Neither injuries are considered serious. They joined the already injured Aaron Curry, Eddie McGee, Shane Lechler, and Denarius Moore.
Matt Shaughnessy hurt himself near the end of practice as well. He went down and was slow to get up, then limped off the field. Dennis Allen thinks it is nothing more than an ankle bruise and hopes to have him back tomorrow.
Rejoining his teammates was Ron Bartell who had been out the first six days of camp with a hamstring pull. He passed his physical yesterday and practiced in all but the full contact drills.
They kicked it up a few notches in practice today. Team periods were almost entirely game simulations while yesterday it was only the last part. Yesterday, they also only had the second and third team in on it while today, the first team got the first shot at it.
Oddly enough, the first play of team sessions yesterday had Philip Wheeler diving in front of a Leinart pass intended for Brandon Myers and picking it off and today the first nice play was Wheeler making an identical diving pass defended against Palmer. A few plays later, David Ausberry made a nice diving catch of his own.
The second team was highlighted by mistakes. Leinart drew Goethel offsides with a hard count. Then receiver Brandon Carswell had Pat Lee beat and Leinart put the ball right on him and he flat out dropped it.
The third team didn't fare any better and between the three teams, nary a touchdown was scored.
The catch of the day came from Juron Criner who with one outstretched arm to haul in a Pryor pass. He tucked it in with one arm with the defender all over him. So much so that as he fell to the turf, he lost his shoe. He never transferred to ball from his right arm and held onto it through the roll and the flat tire.
Palmer looked out of synch again today. This time it was with everyone. Twice he and Jacoby Ford miscommunicated and Ford went long while Palmer thought he was going to go short. Spencer was there both times but was unable to make an interception on either one.
Spencer had one of his best practices. He has been looking pretty bad through this first week. Maybe having Bartell back across the field had him playing better. Hard to say but he had at least three passes defended today, one he tipped up and was intercepted by Matt Giordano.
That was the second opportunity Giordano had to make an interception. Both times he caught it off a tip and both times he tiptoed the sideline. The first time he was ruled out of bounds by the official. The second time, the interception was good.
While the offense was struggling in the passing game, they played well in short yardage. Mike Goodson continued his strong play in camp running the ball. He also had a couple nice catches out of the backfield-one was a long ball on the sideline in which he beat Miles Burris. Darren McFadden also played as well as we have come to expect from him in training camp. He had at least one big run on the day which is pretty standard for him.
The same can't be said for Lonyae Miller who fumbled a handoff and didn't have a lot of luck getting positive yardage otherwise.
The Raiders will continue to ramp up the intensity as the week goes on. They had tackling all the way to the ground today and will extend the amount of time in full contact as the days get closer. There are now four more practices before they meet up with the Cowboys in their home preseason opener on Monday night. It will only get more exciting from here.
To read all the excitement live as it happens, follow me on Twitter @LeviDamien for my live practice tweets.