Training camp is moving along and with each passing day... the crowd in the bleachers just seems to get bigger.
Today, the crowd of season ticket holders in attendance was more on par with what the crowd looked like last season when tickets were given out free to the public. Aside from the usual cheers and such, the first time they made their presence known was when they gave wide receiver Jacoby Ford a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday.
Ford was appreciative of probably the largest serenade he has ever received. He waved to the crowd and applauded them for the song. No roses were thrown at his feet, however, which was just unpreparedness on the fans' part.
Early on, Dennis Allen focused his attention on the offensive line groups with new Raider, Andre Gurode among them. He was wearing #72 and was seen lining up primarily at third team center and left guard but also played some snaps at right guard to complete the sweep of interior offensive line positions.
After practice, I spoke with Gurode and he said he is here to play wherever they want him to play but made it clear he is here to compete for a starting job and "make [his] presence known."
Four players left practice early due to injury: Billy Boyko, Kaluka Maiava, Greg Jenkins, and Sio Moore. No word yet on the injuries or their severity although, Maiava left the locker room after practice on crutches and had a walking boot on his left foot. We will find out tomorrow the severity of it but as of now, it doesn't look good.
During drills, I noted Kevin Burnett has taken a vocal leadership role among his fellow linebackers. Later in practice, when Kaluka Maiava went out with an injury, Burnett was in sole possession of the first team reps at strong side linebacker.
Nick Roach continues to impress in coverage. He was seen making a few nice plays in coverage including shadowing Darren McFadden on one play all the way down the sideline on a long ball to break it up. He later batted down a Matt Flynn pass at the line.
Tyvon Branch also was making the receivers' lives miserable today. He was in great coverage all day and broke up a few passes.
The best plays today on offense were made by tight end David Ausberry. His athletic abilities and hands are far suprerior to the other tight ends on this roster. He can make any catch and on two particular catches today, he showed it. On one catch, he got open deep to pull in a perfectly thrown pass from Tyler Wilson which he pulled on over his shoulder for a touchdown. Later he made a nice twisting catch and pass in the flat from Matt Flynn and in one motion, planted and turned up field to leave the linebacker grasping at air. I didn't see if that linebacker happened to be Kevin Burnett. He wants no part of that.
Overall, even with the defense making some nice plays, the quarterback looked very good as a whole. They all look very well prepared after the month long break. Matt Flynn clearly has had his nose in the playbook, Terrelle Pryor continued to show good mechanics which have paid off in tight spirals added to his already strong arm which resulted in some very nice looking deep connections today, Wilson had a bounceback day with a couple nicely thrown passes, and McGloin was his usual steady hand.
The problem today was not the quarterbacks, it was the receivers. There was a real problem with drops in practice today. Fullback Jon Hoese had a couple in a row and heard it from the crowd on hand. Juron Criner had one bounce right off his hands on a well thrown ball from Terrelle Pryor on a crossing route.
I still think we gotta catch the ball better. Way too many drops today, and that's something that we gotta continue to improve on. I thought our quarterbacks obviously were a lot more crisp. I thought they did an outstanding job.
Speaking of receivers dropping the ball, the news came out during practice that first year receiver, Andre Holmes, has been handed down a four-game suspension for violating the league performance enhancing drug policy. He will still be allowed to attend all of training camp and play in the preseason.
The starting corners were Tracy Porter and Mike Jenkins but DJ Hayden also got some time with the first team. He made a fantastic pass breakup at one point in which he stuck with Rod Streater on a long pass and reached up at the moment the ball arrived to knock it away. Yes, in case you're wondering, he was still wearing the red jersey.
Back again tomorrow for day 3 of training camp. It will be a morning practice with expected availability at 9:20am and pads come on for the first time. As usual, you can follow along with my observations on Twitter by clicking the button below.