It was day four of Raiders training camp and the Raiders were once again in pads just as they had been on day three. Padded practices will be frequent this year and it sounds like there will be fewer days in shirts and shells than in years past.
It's much easier to judge how these players are performing when pads are on. There are a great many drills they just can't do without them, especially when it involves aspects such as blocking, and pass rushing.
And with that, we have our first good looks at Khalil Mack. And he's as advertised. He made a fantastic one-handed grab in linebacker interception drills. He reached up with his left hand to cup the ball and pull it in. He almost didn't even let the ball touch his other hand. But there's no reason to show off. Best to secure the ball.
He made his presence felt early in team session when Maurice Jones-Drew came up the middle and he met him with a thud.
Mack was the only linebacker who joined the defensive ends in pass rushing drills. He only got a couple rushes and couldn't make them count against Austin Howard and Erle Ladson. Again, it was just a couple rushes, so no reason to place too much weight on it.
As far as injuries were concerned, the newly sidelined included Rod Streater (concussion), Juron Criner (hamstring), Shelton Johnson (hamstring), and Marshall McFadden (hip flexor). Greg Little didn't finish practice with a yet unknown injury. To see the entire list of injured players, click here.
Matt Schaub and James Jones continued their love connection in the passing game. Schaub has really hit his stride in camp and his favorite receivers is James Jones. He throws it to him even when he doesn't look open and Jones just goes up and gets it. They also are in midseason form on timing routes, like they've been playing together for years.
The match-up exploited a couple of times today was Marcel Reece on Nick Roach. First Reece split out and Roach lined up to cover him. About five yards up field, Reece turned inside and Schaub nailed him just out of his break. The next time, Roach took the inside shoulder and Reece turned out and Schaub put it on him and he turned up the sideline. More of that is definitely in order for this team.
Derek Carr was a little erratic today. On one play, Seth Roberts had his man beat and Carr tried to hit him long and overthrew it. Then he threw behind Brice Butler who couldn't snag the heater. For what it's worth, it appears he's making an effort to take a little something off his short passes to make them easier to handle.
Matt McGloin is seeing his reps go down as camp goes along. This is not a reflection of his performance, it's just how it always works. He was unremarkable in his limited reps, but better than he was on Sunday.
The sleeper in the receiving corps could be undrafted rookie, Seth Roberts. He has quietly been very consistent. With the injuries to the receivers, he has moved up and gotten some reps with the second team. He is still very much a longshot to make the team but if he keeps it up, there could be a practice squad spot for him.
The best defensive plays came in drills, not team session. The first was Charles Woodson in man defense on David Ausberry. To watch Woodson go one-on-one with a receiver is to take a clinic. He looked like he was reading Ausberry's mind. He was in his hip pocket and the on-target pass from Schaub was swatted down with his inside hand. The man's still got it. If only in moments and against a tight end.
The one-sided battle of the day came between defensive tackle, Ricky Lumpkin, and offensive guard, Tony Bergstrom. Lumpkin got the better of him twice in pass rushing drills. He shucked him out the way and rushed the backfield and then later pushed in-between Bergstrom and Matt McCants to get into the backfield again. Lumpkin is making the most of his opportunity to make the squad. Stacy McGee better get healthy or Lumpkin could make this more interesting than he would like.