The Oakland Raiders 2011 training camp is now in full swing. All of the newly signed and re-signed free agents were allowed to take the field today. And that is most certainly a good thing since this team will play their first preseason game in one week. It is going to be a fast learning and conditioning curve for some of these guys. Hue Jackson limited most of the free agents to just a few snaps and drills. Following practice Jackson said the new guys were "tugging on my pants" to give them more reps, but he wanted to be cautious.
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- Denarius Moore continues to shine. Hue Jackson commented after practice that the NFL stage is not too big for this young man, and it certainly shows. Moore's natural instincts to track the ball and grab it at the highest point are apparent every time the ball comes his way, and that is often. Moore got the most opportunities today and he looked great. On one play Moore ran a post 20 yards to the back of the endzone. Moore was being man covered by DVD, and Stevie Brown had safety help over the top. Both defenders had a great angle on the ball...until Moore made his move. He cut inside of both, attacked it at its highest point, and came down with a spectacular catch. It was the one play that drew applause from everyone watching.
- Stefen Wisniewski got a couple of snaps at left guard today. On the first one he looked like an all-pro as he stuffed Lamarr Houston in his tracks. The second was a different story. Houston blew by him with a quick inside move.
- Justin Smiley lined up exclusively at left guard today. I asked him about his preference regarding the left or right side after practice, and he definitely prefers the left. Although, there is no doubt this is a team first guy. He will do whatever the team asks of him.
- The offensive line looked better today than they did yesterday. The team spent the early portion of practice on goalline situations with the Jumbo set. The line held their own, and on many snaps it was against a front five of Shaughnessy, Seymour, Henderson and Houston.
- Joe Barksdale took the majority of snaps at right tackle. He looks much more prepared to step in and contribute in the run game than in the pass game. He is getting a solid push on run plays, but they guy is susceptible to the edge pass rush.
- I have no problem seeing where the questions of Barksdale's intensity came from. The guy lumbers between plays. After every snap, I thought for sure he was hurt. Don't get me wrong, he played hard when the action was going, but he is definitely revving at a few thousand RPMs behind his teammates in-between plays.
- Khalif Barnes appears to be Barksdale's main competition on the right side. It was Barnes first practice, but he still looked superior to Barksdale in terms of pass blocking.
- Stephon Heyer lined up exclusively at left tackle today. He made it known that he is willing to play any position, but judging solely on today's practice, he was brought in to be the backup left tackle. Heyer looked solid, but he didn't get many reps. One thing is for certain, the guy has the size to play. He is huge. Judging by today, he should definitely get a chance to win the right tackle spot.
- As Saint already reported, Darren McFadden broke his eye. There are more specific terms for this, but I'll leave that to the doctors. He is expected to be out two weeks.
- Bruce Campbell continues to be an idle spectator. The word is that he should be back soon, but his season is getting off to a slow start. At this point, I have a hard time seeing him being a factor, anytime soon, on the offensive line.
- Jon Condo may be this team's secret weapon. Early in practice, the team was throwing deep balls to linebackers for an interception drill. Condo worked his way into this group, and made an amazing full sprint one-handed grab.
- Shane Lechler is a man among boys. The ball comes off his foot with an almost unbelievable amount of force. It really is unreal. There is another punter in camp, but watching him kick and then Lechler kick is two different experiences. Watching Lechler kick is like watching a power hitter step into the BP cage. It is just hard to fathom the force of impact he creates.
- Jared Veldheer had a solid day of practice. I didn't see him get beat once, and more often than not, it wasn't even close. He absolutely manhandled Jarvis Moss on back-to-back plays.
- Daniel Loper does not look good.
- Jason Campbell was forced to roll out on one play, and called for the trainers as soon as the play was over. By all appearances it was tweak of the groin. He got stretched out after that, and I did not see him return. I asked Hue Jackson about it afterwards, and Hue had a good laugh about it and confirmed the minor injury. He also said that he expected Campbell to be on the field tomorrow.
- Quentin Groves did not have a good day. He let two tackles slip right through his fingers. He may have a hard time making this team. However, someone has to replace him....
- And to that end, Travis Goethel looked solid. He shows good instincts and flow to the ball. He played exclusively at MLB due to Rolando McClain sitting out for what was said to be a minor injury.