The question heading into practice today was whether the Raiders would suit up in pads for the third straight day. The answer was yes. Sunday was the earliest the team was allowed to don full pads and start full-contact practices and they have been in pads ever since.
The offense has been wearing jerseys that had a silver tint to them the pasts couple days. At first I thought they had just accidentally tossed a couple black jerseys in the wash with the white jerseys but that turned out not to be the case. And according to Dennis Allen, there was good reason for it.
"We talk a lot about competition. And we're going to compete," said Allen. "And there will be practices throughout training camp where we'll put the jerseys up for grabs. . . we had a competition day the other day, the offense won the jersey, the defense is fighting to get it back."
Usually the defense wears black all the time and the offense wears white. Last year they switched them out at one point because it can get pretty sweltering here in Napa and it isn't exactly fair to make one side wear black all the time. Silver would also be much cooler so I suppose that is something to fight for.
It seems whenever a player returns to the field, he is replaced by several others who go down with injury. Yesterday it was Sio Moore who returned after missing a day only to see Lucas Nix, Johnny Jones, Vance Walker and Brandon Bair all go out with injury. Today it was Sam McGuffie who returned after being out three days only to see Latavius Murray sidelined and Conner Vernon, Alex Parsons, and Stacy McGee all not finish practice.
Sio Moore showed off some run stuffing abilities today. He stonewalled Darren McFadden and Rashad Jennings on successive plays. For a guy known more for his range and pass rush, that is a very welcome sight.
Keenan Clayton also had a couple nice place against the run. He stuffed Jeremy Stewart for a short gain and a few plays later was in the backfield for what would have been a tackle for loss had he been able to actually tackle.
The padded practices have offered more in the way of judging the defense. When the pass blocking/rushing drills begin has to be one of my favorite parts of camp. Here's some of what I saw today:
- Jack Crawford is struggling in pass rush. He doesn't make any moves or handfight, he just tries to go through the offensive lineman. And goes nowhere. First Mike Brisiel stopped him, then Stefen Wisniewski, then Alex Barron. At some point he has to try something else because what he was doing was not looking promising for his prospects as a pass rusher.
- On the opposite end of that spectrum is Christo Bilukidi who is constantly handfighting to gain an angle. It works for him too. He got around Tony Bergstrom and later Andre Gurode to disrupt the backfield.
- Jason Hunter shows a lot of fire but it wasn't doing him much good in pass blocking drills. He was held out of the backfield first by Jared Veldheer and then fell down trying to get around Lamar Mady. Later, in team sessions, he was blocked by Richard Gordon and then gave Gordon a late shove to the helmet. The two began jawing and it dissipated quickly.
- Alex Barron has looked very impressive. He was very good in pass blocking drills yesterday and continued it today. He didn't allow a single pressure today and even pancake blocked Kurt Taufa'asau at one point.
The best looking receiver for this team today was Andre Holmes. Truth be told, he has quietly looked very good all camp. Today the 6-4 receiver went up high to pull down a Tyler Wilson pass with three defenders in the area, came down and kept his feet just inbounds for a touchdown. He seems to get behind corners pretty routinely. Typically it's Terrelle Pryor or Tyler Wilson throwing the passes and you can tell they look for him.
Darren McFadden nearly had a butt fumble today. He ran up on the back of his blocker and it forced the ball to pop out of his arms and up in the air. He quickly grabbed it back out of the air and avoided the fumble though.
Richard Gordon showed his limitation in the receiving game on one play. He ran a seem route with Nick Roach in coverage. He pushed off of Roach the moment he noticed the ball was coming to him, then lost track of it over his head and had it bounce off his hands. That's a play David Ausberry made with perfection in practice the other day. No push off either. But when you watch Gordon pass block, you can see why he has remained on the team.
Greg Jenkins was promoted today. He had been catching passes from Matt McGloin and the fourth team, but after a solid day yesterday, he was running with the third team and seeing passes from Tyler Wilson. Not much to report on how he played with the third team. Poor McGloin, though. As soon as he finds a dependable target, he loses him to the third team.
There were a few good passes here and there but overall none of the quarterbacks played well today. Late in practice, Matt Flynn threw a ball intended for David Ausberry in the flat and Tyvon Branch undercut it at the one for what would have been 99 yards of open field to turn on his 4.30 speed for a pick six. The crowd went nuts as Tyvon did a Deion Sanders-like dance off to the sideline in front of them.
Latavius Murray wasn't practicing today with an unknown injury. But that didn't stop Marcel Reece from getting in a little rookie hazing on him by making Murray carry his helmet and pads back to the field house at the end of practice.
Raiders have an off-day tomorrow so no practice. Don't fret, though. Plenty still to analyze and loose ends to tie up to keep you all thoroughly interested. I'll be back in Napa for practice Thursday at 2:50. As always, keep up with all the action on Twitter by clicking the button below.