The Raiders facility is quieting down. The Raiders players finished up their last minicamp practice today. Much of the players are now on their way to see their families and embark on their off-season.
It has been a month and a half of practices beginning with rookie minicamp, continuing with OTA's and into Minicamp. Now they begin six weeks off before training camp.
The last thing most the players did on their way out the door was attend an NFL safety seminar which is designed to prepare them on how to stay safe over the break. Dennis Allen also addressed his team in the hopes they will stay in shape and stay out of trouble.
"We spoke to ‘em a little bit this morning about [what's expected of them]." Said Allen. "We all understand that we put a lot of work into this, and this is the time of year that we've got to mind our P's and Q's and do the right things and get back to training camp in shape, come back to training camp mentally and physically ready to go.
"We can have contact but I think it's important this time of year, we're gonna keep tabs a little bit and make sure we know where everybody is but at the end of the day, they gotta get away a little bit too. Get refreshed and get ready for training camp because it'll be a grind once we get there."
Most of the players fully understand that this time off is not time to lay back and relax. The veterans have been at this long enough, they know to keep at the top of their game even when they aren't with the team.
"I work," said Charles Woodson of his plans for the next six weeks. "I work and prepare myself to be ready when training camp comes so I can hit the ground running. I'll go home and I'll be home with my family but a large part of it will be conditioning myself to the point where if we had to play a game July 27, I could play July 27 and not have to come off the field. That's what I'll do the next couple of weeks."
That's good advice from a 16-year NFL veteran and future Hall of Famer. Darren McFadden - in his fifth NFL off-season - understands this as well.
"I'll be here for a couple days then it's right back to training," said McFadden. "It's something you can't take much off of. Once you get in that shape, it only take three or four days to fall out of shape so you just want to keep it going and just stay on top of everything."
The young guys hoping to get make an NFL career with the Raiders will very likely be pushing hard to be in optimum shape come July 25 when they step off the bus in Napa for training camp.
As far as conduct, Reggie McKenzie is hoping his efforts to fill out this roster with high character guys will pay off when there is no supervision. There are few players on this team who are set in their roster spots and can afford to get into trouble or have an accident over the break.
Dennis Allen and the other coaches will also be taking a break for the next few weeks. He is expecting not to have that break interrupted by any bad news and he said today that he fully expects all currently injured players to be healthy and ready to go once camp starts.
With the spirit behind how this roster was assembled, there is no reason not to believe this should be a smooth off-season with all players showing up ready to go come the end of July for camp. That is the first important step in having a chance of proving this team can be competitive this coming season.