Raiders minicamp day 3 notes: Passing offense makes comeback

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It was the final day of minicamps and therefore the last chance these players would have to send themselves off on a high note. It will be six weeks before they are back on the practice field for training camp, so it was important to make this one count.

Here are my notes from the minicamp day 3:

Injuries

Mike Jenkins (knee) and Phillip Adams (hamstring) left yesterday's practice with injuries. Jenkins returned today but Adams remained out.

Adams joined a stable of injured cornerbacks who stood and watched as their teammates practiced. It was Adams, D.J. Hayden (abdomen), Taiwan Jones (unknown), Coye Francies (illness?).

The others still not practicing were Nick Kasa (hamstring), Jon Hoese (calf), Josh Cribbs (knee), Latavius Murray (foot), Miles Burris (knee), Johnny Jones, Mario Kurn, Travis Goethel, Isaiah Williams, Stacy McGee.

Dennis Allen said he expects all injured players to be healthy by training camp.

Offense

The passing offense was like night and day compared to what it was on day one of minicamp. It was truly horrific that first day with barely a handful of decent passes by any of the quarterbacks. Day 2 was better, which wasn't saying much. Today was actually pretty good.

Tony Bergstrom was back at left guard with the first team after Lucas Nix was given some work with the first team yesterday. Bergstrom was also first team on day 1 and throughout OTA's. The team is engendering competition at the position thought Bergstrom will be given every opportunity to be the starter.

The Raiders offense caught the defense off guard to start team sessions. They typically run the ball all through the first session but on the very first play, Denarius Moore took off on a long post pattern and Matt Flynn aired it out for a perfect strike and a 60-yard touchdown. That sent a couple messages - Yes, Flynn/this team can do that and the defense shouldn't get complacent.

Flynn continued to look good when there was a lot of field to work with but struggled greatly in redzone drills. At one point, there were four straight broken plays in which there was either a miscommunication, an off-target throw, or him throwing the ball away after finding nowhere to go with the ball. He finally completed a pass to Rod Streater but in the NFL, you don't get five chances.

Pryor was the best looking QB on day 2 and while he didn't look quite as good today, he still wasn't too bad. He had some good throws and some that were not great as one would expect. He does have a tendency to throw with the nose of the ball pointed down on short throws. That makes it harder to catch and is also one of the reasons why he has had six passes batted at the line this minicamp despite standing 6-6.

Flynn liked Juron Criner today, hitting him on an out route, later a comebacker on the opposite side, and then connecting in the corner of the endzone for a touchdown in redzone drills. Dennis Allen said on day 2 they are going to be working on ways to get Criner involved in the passing offense and Criner didn't disappoint today. He is showing once again the great hands and body control that he flashed in minicamp last year.

I wish I could talk more about the tight ends but none of them are really staking their claim for the job. Richard Gordon has been downright bad, David Ausberry and Mychal Rivera are inconsistent, Jeron Mastrud and Brian Leonhardt are underwhelming, and Nick Kasa has been injured.

Marcel Reece is the one guy I can say who has been consistently great in the receiving game. He gets a lot of work with first, second, and third team and all the quarterbacks love throwing his way any chance they get.

After playing well in OTA's, Connor Vernon hasn't really showed up of late. He isn't dropping passes, he just hasn't been a big part of the offense lately.

Terrelle Pryor likes him some Brice Butler. He is his favorite target with the second team offense.

Defense

Don't mistake the good talk about the offense as speaking less of the defense. Even when the offense was playing poorly, it wasn't to the defense's credit per se. Most of the issue was the way the ball was leaving the quarterbacks' hands.

That being said, the defensive line getting their hands up to bat down passes is a great sign. The quarterbacks may be throwing too low but it is up to the defensive linemen to take advantage and get their hands on the ball. That kind of thing is what gave JJ Watt the nickname JJ "Swat" and helped him become defensive MVP. It makes a big difference and give the quarterback one more thing to think about.

Passes defended today came from Mike Jenkins and Brandian Ross.

Jenkins came across the middle and had a bead on a Flynn pass intended for Jacoby Ford. He really should have intercepted it but he at least knocked it down.

Ross was in Mychal Rivera's hip pocket on a route into the back corner of the endzone. He lept up and swatted it out of the air for an incomplete pass from Pryor.

Christo Bilukidi got in the backfield on Terrelle Pryor forcing him to throw the ball into the turf. Later Bradon Bair got pressure on Matt McGloin to smother his pass attempt.

Special Teams

Not much to talk about today. They worked the hands team for onsides kicks and returning the ball off short field goals. There were some Tweets being sent out about Sebastian Janikowski missing field goals short but those were on purpose for the sake of the drill.

It's pretty much all conditions normal otherwise. Janikowski is still the best in football, Kluwe is his holder and first team punter. Eddy Carmona and Marquette King are the second team kicker/punter.

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