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Oakland Raiders Training Camp 2011: The Herd Is Thinning

On my first day attending training camp, Darren McFadden made a Big Time block on Quentin Groves. The entire play happened at NFL speed and the impact was 30 feet from where I was standing. Have you ever felt the shockwaves that are sent from body and gear colliding with an unrushing force that is every bit it's equal?

Well, when that happens on an NFL field, there is a very distinctive "POP", followed by a quick gnarled sound of grinding metal, then a slight pause, followed by a visceral response that comes from DEEP inside of anyone in attendance. It is an acknowledgment and instant showing of approval for this display.

The collision of two men competing on the gridiron is not too far from the animal kingdom where every year the herd is thinned. The strongest move on to become fathers, while the weak fall off and are eventually eaten or starve to death.

It is no wonder that players are finding their way to the cold tub, trainers room and even the hospital. (McFadden has not been in pads since the block)

The breakneck pace at which the Raiders have been preparing this year has caused the "Next Man Up" mentality to become, not only a quick sound byte, but, reality, as the wounds from each day mount and only the strongest players are left standing.

This is a battle and as Louis Murphy steps aside, young, Denarius Moore steps in. Chris Johnson, the puma on the right side, is on the sideline and now Demarcus Van Dyke, the rookie, is stepping in to show that he is ready to entwine his fabric into the blanket that is the defensive secondary.

It is too soon to panic about injuries. This is what this year is about. It is a reckoning. And, the heard is thinning.