It was day one of Raiders training camp and there was a lot to be discovered. The players are finally back and gearing up for the 2012 season. It was nearly a full house with all the rookies signed and many players returning from injuries that kept them out of OTA's and minicamp.
Returning were Matt Shaughnessy, Stefen Wisniewski, Eddie McGee, and Mike Mitchell. They have all completely recovered from their injuries and were full go.
Not practicing were Aaron Curry (knee), Ron Bartell (hamstring), Shane Lechler, and Travis Ivey (conditioning).
Curry has been out since mini camps and Dennis Allen notified us that he has been placed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. He walked around but did not practice.
Bartell tweaked his hamstring and was working with a trainer doing light cuts around cones.
Lechler's knee is nothing serious but he was watching today and there is no rush to get him back.
Ivey was held out of practice for not passing his conditioning test. He participated in stretching and warm-ups but was walking around the field pretty much on a constant during practice.
Burris filled in for Curry at weak side linebacker. He had filled in for him in minicamp as well. Bartell was replaced in the starting lineup by Demarcus Van Dyke. Marquette King replaced Lechler and allowed the punt returners to field balls that came from a more human level punter. It's good practice for them.
For the first time since the Kiffin "era" camp, music was played during drills and after practice. There were large speakers set up on stanchions playing a mix of hip hop and rock. I am known to bust a move when a good beat comes on and when I was doing some form of the "Tootsie Roll" during stretching, running back Mike Goodson saw me and pointed at me saying "I see you!" so I popper a collar causing Denarius Moore to let out a cackle. Always happy to entertain.
We got our first glimpse of the newest member of the Raiders. Undrafted free agent Chad Kilgore had a nice one-handed grab in defensive drills (pictured above). He looks like he has a lot of potential and seems to be a nice find by the Raiders coaching staff. It is early yet so he has a lot of playbook learning yet to do.
After wearing plain silver helmets during OTA's and minicamps, the players are sporting the shield here in training camp. They helmets also still have the "AL" stickers on the back. No word on if the players will wear the stickers during the season or any other Al Davis tribute.
Terrelle Pryor continues to struggle. At this point, there is really no competition with he and Leinart for the primary backup spot. Pryor fumbled his first snap, his passes are still a bit wobbly and lack velocity, and his one medium distance pass to a moving target he threw well behind his receiver. Just before practice was to end, Pryor rolled to his left and tried to flip the ball right into the arms of Christo Bilukidi who intercepted it and scored. After practice Allen was asked what he expected of Pryor and his response was for Pryor to "develop as a quarterback on a regular basis."
Marcel Reece looks great in the passing game. He was routinely outrunning his coverage to his spot and wide open. When he wasn't wide open, he made nice grabs in traffic. One particular pass he caught from Palmer, he leapt up and plucked it out of the air then stopped right at the sideline and cutback while his coverage kept going and Reece sprinted up field for a big gain. He's a mismatch in practice too.
Mitchell had a pass defended on practice and went apeshit about it. He admitted afterward that he got a little too excited. But he is definitely rearing to go after being out all of OTA's and minicamp with a knee injury. Pads come on Wednesday so I expect his intensity to raise even more then. He does like to pop.
Jacoby Ford went down in a heap, holding his left knee. And after some tense moments laying on the field unable to walk more than two steps, he hopped up and trotted out to field punts. As scary as it was, it was equally surprising to see him no worse for wear so quickly afterward. He says he's fine.
Juron Criner was not getting the same amount of reps he was getting in OTA's and minicamp. He was also not running with the second team as he was before. I don't want to assume it was because of the contract situation but Rod Streater and Eddie McGee were getting the bulk of the second team reps and even with the third team, Criner was watching more often than he was practicing.
Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford were returning punts.
Marquette King was punting while Shane Lechler sat out with a knee injury. King looked good punting for a while but then shanked a couple. Consistency has been his issue all along.
There were two interceptions on the day: the aforementioned gift from Pryor to Bilukidi and a Leinart pass which Pat Lee made a nice play and defended it and Chimdi Chekwa picked it off on the tip. Demarcus Van Dyke had a pass defended which he nearly intercepted as well.
Rod Streater and Eddie McGee both looked good in the receiving game. They will be in a heated battle for the Raider fifth receiver spot. And they will both be hoping the team keeps six receivers so they can both make the squad.
Second and third team safeties behind Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff are: Matt Giordano, Mike Mitchell, Curtis Taylor, and Brandon Underwood. With the new multiple scheme the defense is running, it is nearly impossible to tell who is focusing on which position. At one point it appears Giordano was playing strong, Mitchell was playing free, Underwood was playing strong, and Taylor was playing free. But those assignments change in different packages.
Carson Palmer showed his usual passing prowess but he also showed off a bit of the footwork he has been working on in the offseason when he rolled out left and, without setting his feet, threw a laser to Jacoby Ford on an out route for a big gain.
I will be live tweeting in practices throughout training camp. Follow me @LeviDamien.