Another day of Raiders training camp is in the books. Here are my observations and notes from the day.
It was quite a bit cooler today than it was yesterday. It approached 100 degrees on the first day. It was still warm but not unbearable.
The fans appreciate the lower temperatures. Yesterday many of them left well early. Today there was a full house most the whole practice. That full house was about 1000 fans filling the bleachers. Some recognizable faces out of their usual wardrobe including Dr Death, Gorilla Rilla, and Bandido Raider as their mild-mannered selves.
It was Taiwan Jones' birthday and the crowd serenaded him with the Happy Birthday song... three times.
The intensity picked up a little bit from day one. Where there were only a couple short lively sessions, every team session was full speed.
Pretty quickly, the one new absence was realized. Kaluka Maiava was not on the field. It was revealed after practice that he had suffered a hamstring injury late on day one. Marshall McFadden took most of his reps with the second team at middle linebacker.
Tarell Brown left a bit later and the news was better with him as Dennis Allen said Brown missed the rest of practice due to illness.
With the new full speed practice, there was one collision. Bojay Filimoeatu went up to try and knock down a pass intended for tight end Jake Murphy and the two collided. Murphy laid on the ground for a few seconds but eventually slowly got to his feet.
One of the better looking receivers in camp has been Brice Butler. He has looked very smooth and made some tough catches look rather effortless. I can't recall him dropping a pass the past two days.
Greg Little continued his inconsistencies. He had a nice hands catch over the middle and followed it up by dropping the next pass on essentially the exact same route. And the second pass ore on target than the first.
There were a string of drops by receivers. David Ausberry dropped a couple, Jake Murphy had a couple, Andre Holmes had a couple, and Denarius Moore had a couple and even muffed a punt. The only receivers to go without a drop today (that I saw) were Butler, Rod Streater, James Jones, Juron Criner, Mike Davis and Rahsaan Vaughn.
Overall it wasn't a great day for the receivers. I can't recall a single catch that is worthy of being named the catch of the day.
With all this talk of Derek Carr throwing on a rope, it's becoming apparent that he needs to take a little off his passes. He seems to have one speed and in close range, a pass coming in that hot can be hard to handle. He needs to find a changeup in his repertoire.
The defensive linemen are getting antsy. First Lamarr Woodley jumps off-sides and then Justin Tuck sliced through the right tackle/guard gap and was on top of Matt Schaub in an instant.
The defensive play of the day came from Chance Casey who came across the formation to swat down a Matt McGloin pass intended for Jake Murphy. Later TJ Carrie also had a nice play when he was in Denarius Moore's pocket to bat down a short pass from Schaub.
The special teams flashed today. At one point the Raiders called out the field goal unit to rush onto the field to practice their ability to get into formation quickly. It was executed perfectly and Sebastian Janikowski had the crowd cheer when he booted one from some 60 yards straight down the middle that would have been good from probably 70 yards. He and Marquette King look pretty comfortable together.
Speaking of King, he said the other day that he has been working hard on his directional punts. They have improved all the while his power has not suffered. Twice he lauched punts that traveled some 70 plus yards in the air. The first on sent TJ Carrie running toward his own endzone and the second sent Maurice Jones-Drew backpeddling. After leading the league in yards per punt last season, King looks like he will improve on that this year.
After practice, we had a DJ Hayden sighting. He was not wearing his boot this time though he had a slight limp which he may have been trying to downplay a little bit by taking small steps. His timetable is unknown but I suspect we will see him moving around some by the end of next week.
We also found out what Antonio Smith's injury was that kept him out all of OTA's and minicamp. He had a sports hernia. He said he noticed it while he was working out. He had surgery to repair it and is back healthy.
I asked Antonio Smith if he was looking forward to pads tomorrow and he said plainly "No". And he wasn't being sarcastic. Gotta love the honesty. As for the rest of us, we are definitely looking forward to it. Talk to you all then. And if you'd like to follow along with me at camp, click that little button below.