The Raiders took the field on Tuesday for the first of three straight days of mandatory minicamps this week. It was the first time we were to see a full house for the team. And it is the last time we will see this team all together until late July when they head to Napa for training camp.
There was still no contact and no pads with the exception of helmets. But there was a lot more team drills both seven on seven and eleven on eleven. The playbooks are more digested than they were for OTA's so the defense actually knew what they were doing. The offense was also more dynamic which offset whatever improvements the defense has made.
But overall, it was a far more interesting and productive practice than we had seen during OTA's,
There were only two players on the roster who were not present. It was Mike Mitchell and Manase Tonga. Both players have been out with knee injuries throughout all of offseason practices and are not expected back until training camp. Both were also supposedly in the building for rehab sessions while practice was going on outside.
Returning to practice was Richard Seymour, Tommy Kelly, and Shane Lechler who were utilizing their right as seasoned vets to not be in attendance for voluntary workouts.
Those who were here but not practicing were Dave Tollefson and Stefen Wisniewski. Wisniewski is still recovering from offseason surgery on a torn labrum he suffered in last year's training camp (yes, he played the entire 2011 season with a torn labrum). Tollefson had a minor calf injury that may or may not keep him out all week but nothing more.
Going down in practice with an injury was Denarius Moore. He was holding his right hamstring and the trainers were working on it before he limped off the field and into the facility. It is thought to be a minor issue but there is nothing certain for now. Read more about Denarius' injury here.
Matt Shaughnessy returned to full practice. He had been here for OTA's but was not in a helmet, doing light work. He is returning from a shoulder injury he suffered in week three of last season.Read more about Shaughnessy's return here.
Aaron Curry also returned to practice after missing the final two weeks of OTA's.
The day belonged to the offense as per usual. With no contact, a large portion of the defense is lost. That means no sacks which means the quarterbacks feel no pressure and have all the time and space they need to throw.
Standing out were some usual suspects. Juron Criner and Rod Streater continued to shine in the receiving corps. Matt Leinart is loving having them to throw to on the second team.
On defense, Shaughnessy made his presence felt. On the first play once the linemen were brought into the fold, he had a would-be sack on Palmer. I say "would-be" of course because there is no contact. So he broke into the backfield and showed that he would have gotten the sack but then stood there are Palmer scrambled away.
Tommy Kelly also made his presence felt early. The next play after the Shaughnessy "sack", Kellly bats down a Palmer pass at the line.
There were no turnovers today but the lone pass breakup came from Chimdi Chekwa on a Leinart pass.
Terrelle Pryor continued to have issues. Same old dead horse, really. Floating long balls, low/behind on short passes, yada, yada, yada. He also had a fumbled exchange on a handoff to Taiwan Jones. To his credit, he did pick it up in seven on seven drills and completed some nice passes. But once the linemen came in and the rush was coming, he was caught holding the ball too long and would have been sacked a couple times.
With Shane Lechler returning, the difference in punting was quite evident. Marquette King had one booming 65 yarder but most of his punts fluttered and wobbled. He has potential but consistency is a big issue for him. Lechler is Mr. Automatic and every punt is spiraling rocket with hangtime to spare.
Owen Schmitt looks good in the passing game. He is very smooth and has good hands. We already know he is a solid blocker. They don't call him the runaway beer truck for nothing. If he keeps it up, Tonga may not have a job once he gets healthy.
Marcel Reece appears to have caught up to his playbook and teammates as well. He and Palmer connected many times for some nice gainers.
Follow me on Twitter for live in-practice tweets @LeviDamien.