The offense was having a hell of a time moving the ball with the running game. Not a good sign for our the often expressed Achilles heal: the offensive line. At one point after another futile attempt to run resulted in no daylight for the RB, Rock Cartwright slammed the ball down and yelled at the offensive line.
Not surprisingly, Hue Jackson was letting the O-line hear it. Finally, towards the end of practice, they opened up a few holes and gained some positive feedback from Hue. Still, they were stuffed by the first and second team D for the majority of the day. Come on Tom, these are your guys! Pull that ace out of your sleeve.
On the plus side: Whaaaaaat? The Defense made it hard for someone to run on them? I don't care if it was against a Pop Warner team, this is better than what was happening last year. Commenting afterwards Cable offered up a quote, the likes of which has not been associated with the Raiders in years. Cable:
Good defense. I thought initially the defense was playing it square and staying in their gaps. Very disciplined.
The one thing we have heard over and over about the source of the woes to the run D was the lack of discipline. Guys just weren't maintaining their gaps. I think it is safe to assume that the coaches feel the majority of this lack of discipline originated from the LB's. As camp has gone on, Cable has offered up various quotes calling out last years LB corp, while praising this years almost entirely new look group.
The one guy that got playing time last year at LB that is going to get significant run this year is Trevor Scott. Cable was impressed with his play at the end of the season and he seems even more impressed with his ability to further grasp a position that he had to learn on the fly last year. Cable:
The OTAs were really good for him. That's where you saw him settle in and really get more comfortable. He's picked up here in camp where he left off then.
Scott himself is also beginning to feel more comfortable in his play at LB. Scott:
I can't even describe how much more comfortable I am as far as alignment, assignment and just knowing my responsibilities. Last year was just kind of like run and go and just go find the ball. I understand things so much better now.
Could it be that word discipline turns up in positive quotes for the Silver and Black? Of course, Scott may still have us grimacing in pass coverage, as evidenced by him getting burned by the dreaded (?) Brennan to Myers combo at practice today. Still, baby steps and if the other LB's can cover the Raiders will be able to limit Scott's visibility in pass coverage.
While Scott's understanding of the position will help him get into the proper assignments so will the leader of the defense, Rolando McClain. By all accounts he is the real deal and rookie or not when Death Ro' speaks, the others are listening. McClain's attitude and skills seem to be making believers out of his teammates.
"He's definitely a put-up-or-shut-up type of guy," said Scott when referring to the rook. "He came into a new environment, going from a 3-4 to a 4-3, and being the leader of the defense as a rookie and having all these vets trying to get the calls from him ... he's taken it in stride. For him to come in and be the leader of the defense is pretty tremendous."
Quentin Groves also is impressed. Groves:
(He's) seasoned. He's a guy that comes from a great conference, great linebacker coaching, he's a guy that is a field general before he even plays the game.
On the other side of the ball, the passing game looked better than it did on Sunday. DHB was noted to make a couple of nice grabs. Again, a nice grab for DHB last year was anything that didn't hit the ground. He is actually going up and making some plays this year.
When it comes to thinking about DHB for the year, it is like thinking of a rookie. The positive reports have wiped his slate clean. In my mind, DHB's image as an NFL player is waiting to be formed.
It's not all sunshine, lollipops and purple drank for the passing game. the practice was not without its drops Shaun Bodiford had a few, Nick Miller had at least one as did Murphy. For all the strides the offense has made it still prompted McDonald to say that it does not have the look of a 60 percent completion team.
I think it is reasonable to expect the passing game to look better and better as the weeks go by. It is a new QB and system. The WR's are incredibly young and raw. Of course to improve, the QB is going to need time to throw the ball and throw it downfield.
For whatever changes there are going to be in the offense this year, it sounds as if the deep ball is still going to be a part of it. There are always multiple reports of deep passes from practice each day.
- Bruce Campbell continues his learning process and he certainly seems to have the right attitude about it. Campbell:
I talk to everybody, I talk to offensive linemen, defensive linemen, linebackers, just to see what they can see that I can’t see. If I’m leaning, if I’m twitching, if I’m looking . . . I ask everybody.
- Campbell is excited to get out and pull block. This gets me excited about Campbell getting out and pull blocking. His speed and power paving the way...I'm drooling like Homer Simpson looking at a donut. Ummm donuts...I mean, Campbell:
I enjoy pulling a lot more as long as learn how to square up linebackers and square up people when I pull because it’s something I’m still not used to.
- Of course, it is still a learning process for him and our other rook OL and watching them should be one of the highlights of the presason. Cable:
We’re still trying to speed him up and playing at the right tempo when the ball is snapped. These preseason games will help a lot. They help young linemen a tremendous amount.
- Another case of good or bad news: The offense is not putting the ball on the ground that often. The coaching staff is stressing ball stripping during practice. Given that I guess we have to take it as a good sign. Here's what the Cable Guy had to say:
Like we started this morning, every other practice, with that turnover circuit, it is a credit to the offense. I think they're taking better care of the ball. But you see the emphasis. When you turn on film and you see seven, eight guys stripping at it every time. They may not get it out, but we're attempting to, and I think that's really a critical issue.
- I neglected to mention that Darren McFadden hamstring got a little tight over the weekend. He was held out of Monday's practice as a result.
- Jacoby Ford was back to practice, but limited. Still, a good sign. Hopefully he is ready to go on Thursday.
- Schillens was held out of practice. Just resting his precautions.
- Nnam was held out of practice as well. Soreness was the given reason. Nnam gets sore a lot in training camps.
- Jay Richardson was held out of practice today. He is having slight trouble with his knee and is questionable for Thursday's game.