This weekend the Raiders rookies, first year players and tryout players are taking the field for the first time. These are my notes from day 1 of the rookie minicamp.
As we were heading out to the field, the first thing we saw was bulldozers and dirt.
As part of the Raiders continued makeover of the facility, field one and surrounding areas were torn up along with the back patio and awning that once stood. They have three fields in total. Field two is astroturf where they practice prior to road games that will occur on artificial turf.
We walked all the way around those two fields where the team was practicing on field three. They typically alternate practices between fields one and three during the season.
There was a good turnout at the camp, as there typically is. In total there were the 10 drafted rookies, 14 undrafted rookies, 8 first year players, and 15 tryout players. Tryout players are not listed on the roster and are not announced unless/until they make the team.
All the drafted players and undrafted signees got their numbers ahead of time. You can see those numbers here.
Amari Cooper was sporting his new number 89. He was asked why he chose the number 89 and said only "I thought it would look better on me" than the number 19 he had initially chosen. Cooper was number 9 at Alabama. He couldn't have 89 at the time because James Jones was still on the roster. Jones was released last week so the number came available.
Cooper got a lot of targets in practice from undrafted Cody Fajardo. You could tell the former Nevada quarterback was making the most of his time getting to throw to the first team All American, Biletnikoff Award winner. After this weekend the two will rarely see the field together as Cooper will be working with the first and second team and Fajardo will get limited snaps as the fourth team signal caller.
There were mixed results in the throws from Farjardo to Cooper. The worst was a hitch route by Cooper that Fajardo threw right into the turf about five yards short of him. The best was a go route up the right sideline Farjardo put right into Cooper's arms in stride for probably a 60-yard touchdown.
Second round pick Mario Edwards Jr worked at both defensive end and 3-tech defensive tackle, which is what is expected of the 6-3, 280-pound defensive lineman once the entire team takes the field this month for OTA's.
Third round pick Clive Walford is a pretty imposing target at tight end. He is listed at 6-4, 251 which puts him around the same height as several linemen, just 50 pounds lighter. He got the number 88 with the team cutting Nick Kasa. Walford looked fluid as a receiver, as advertised.
Fourth round pick Jon Feliciano was showing off his versatility - he was playing center. After the team drafted him, he said he had played every position on the offensive line, though he had never played center in an actual game. They didn't bring in any centers for the rookie camp, so he was playing there almost exclusively. Hard to say if that will continue in OTA's and beyond. Other Raiders players with some center experience, aside from Rodney Hudson, are Lamar Mady and Tony Bergstrom.
Seventh round pick Andre Debose may be here to return kicks, but he showed some pretty good skills as a slot receiver as well.
The Raiders got through their first practice injury free, or that appeared to be the case. As we saw with the Dante Fowler Jr ACL injury, the first day of rookie minicamp can be dangerous as these players fight to impress their new coaches and/or make the roster.
The rookie camp continues Saturday and Sunday though there is no media access on those days.