Since the third day of camp, the Raiders have been ramping up the intensity of practice. And the last two days, the amount of full contact and tackling to the ground periods had lengthened. All that changed on Tuesday when running back Mike Goodson went down with a neck injury on the field after a hard hit and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
When the team took the field on Wednesday, they were in shells and short for the first time since day two of camp. And it wasn't scheduled.
"We were going to go full pads today but we felt like the team has been giving us everything they got, and it was time for us to kind of take a little bit off of them." Said head coach Dennis Allen.
It was a welcome relief for many of the players, especially with some pretty hot days in Napa the past couple days.
"It went over pretty good. The guys, obviously, they appreciate it when you cut it back a little bit on them and give them a chance to recover some. They got the day off tomorrow, so they'll have a full day off to really recover."
But not all the players were happy to ease off for a day. Ron Bartell had been waiting for this day all camp. He sat out the first week with a pulled hamstring injury. He passed his physical on Sunday and was on schedule to resume full contact today for the first time. Now it will have to wait until at least Friday.
"(Laughs) Yeah, that's crazy." Said Bartell. "I was actually looking forward to getting full pads on. I'm probably the only guy on the team that felt that way. But you know, guys' legs were getting heavy so it was a great call by Coach to get guys out of the pads, lighten up the load a little bit. It was a little disappointing but I'll have enough time."
If there is anyone on this team who can understand the scare of a neck injury, it's Bartell. He fractured a vertebrae in his neck and didn't play at all last season. He didn't know at the time if he would every play again.
"You never want to see somebody go down." Said Bartell. "I mean, that's a tough situation. I had a similar situation this past year, so I can definitely sympathize with what he was feeling at the time. I'm just glad to see that he's OK. It was a scare to all of us. It's a bad part of the game, you know, it's what we sign up for. You never want to see that happen. But we understand that it is always that possibility, it's what we do."
Coach Allen couldn't say when Goodson would be back but from the sounds of it, it will likely be after the Dallas game at the earliest. The team will have to go back to full contact to continue to prepare for the game but a day off after the shock on Tuesday was probably a good thing.