It's hard to believe after waiting all off-season for Raiders training camp to begin that we are already a week in, but here we are. So, what have we learned about the Raiders thus far?
Terrelle Pryor's mechanics work is paying off. Entering his third season in the NFL, Pryor is finally starting to show some abilities throwing the ball. Those who would advocate for Pryor's abilities have been known to hail the greatness of his arm strength, but up until recently, those pronouncements were empty words based on his performance.
Pryor realizes his shortcomings and hired several coaches to work on his footwork and mechanics to keep his passes from sailing and fluttering as had a tendency to do. Thus far in camp, there is a very noticeable difference in his passes. Where maybe his spiral to duck ratio was 20/80 before is now more like 80/20 and the result has been a great increase in accuracy and velocity.
It will be another week before the team's first preseason game and we get to see whether those new mechanics stick or if they get tossed when the pressure is on. After all, it can be difficult to focus on mechanics when large athletic men are chasing after you trying and hurt you.
Rod Streater is primed for a breakout season. After being a surprise starter last season as an undrafted rookie, he has taken his game to a new level in camp. He is a versatile receiver in that he can be a possession receiver, play the slot, with the ability to take the top off the offense. It could make him the Raiders' number one target this season.
A few young hopefuls are standing out and making a strong case to make the Raiders' roster this season. Cory Nelms is making plays in the secondary, Andre Holmes and Greg Jenkins are showing some good skills in the receiving game, and David Bass is showing some nice skills in pass rush.
David Ausberry is establishing himself as the starting tight end for the team. He showed himself to be on the verge of breaking out last off-season before disappearing last sesason. According to Dennis Allen, Ausberry's issues stem from the mental side of things and his blocking.
Charles Woodson and Andre Carter were expected to bring some leadership to the team but according to Sio Moore, their experience and stories are invaluable to the team dynamic and inspire the young players to do great things. Their play on the field has been plenty worth a spot on this team as well. Sio Moore himself is an incredibly inspiring individual.
Alex Barron has had many of us begging the question why other NFL teams have given up on him. The former first round pick (19th overall), spent the first five years of his career with the Rams jumping back and forth between left and right tackle before they let him go following the 2009 season. Since then he has started one game. It was for the Cowboys in 2010 and he hasn't been able to make an NFL roster since. The Raiders have enjoyed his versatility as a backup at both tackle spots and his blocking has been superb thus far. Menelik Watson better get back on the field soon or he may not see the field much this season, if at all.
Lucas Nix had taken the starting job at left guard over the presumed starter, Tony Bergstrom. Both were rookies last year but on opposite ends of the spectrum - Bergstrom was the team's top pick (third round), and Nix was an undrafted free agent. Nix went out with an injury the other day of unknown severity which had Bergstrom back running with the first team, but it is clear Nix has become the team's top choice at left guard.
Andre Gurode's character and attitude is a welcome addition to a team already full of some very interesting characters. He fits right in with the type of guys Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen value and Raiders fans should absolutely root for him to make the team if for no other reason than the improved locker room dynamic.
Dennis Allen said DJ Hayden will play as a boundary corner and Tracy Porter will move inside in the nickel defense. That could mean Hayden and Jenkins are pegged as the starters with Porter as the third option. As if Porter wasn't already not feeling the love when the team stripped him of the number 24 and handed the 31 jersey without his knowledge.
The defensive tackle position has been an elephant graveyard of late. Camp started with Pat Sims on active PUP. By day five of camp, he was joined by nearly every defensive tackle on the roster. Vance Walker, Stacy McGee, Johnny Jones, and Brandon Bair all went down with injury. It left just Christo Bilukidi and Kurt Taufa'asau remaining and therefore put the team in a desperate need to fill their final roster spot with a defensive tackle. They went out and grabbed Myles Wade who had been cut from the Seahawks this off-season. He, like many Raider players these days, has a story of struggle which drives him.
Day 6 of practice begins at 2:50pm. We'll see what we learn from the second week of Raiders training camp. As always follow along by clicking the button below.