Training camp practices don't officially begin until Friday but over the past three days, the Raiders rookies, quarterbacks, and a few select players - many of whom were injured all or most of last season - had their own warm up practices at the Napa training camp facility.
The veteran players have the benefit of having gone through training camp before, and having played all 16 games last season. For some of them training camp is old hat as well as the process in preparing themselves.
In that regard, the three-days of pre-camp practices were vital in getting the rookies up to speed before the veterans arrive, which happens today. For fifth round rookie offensive lineman Jon Feliciano, the three days helped him to be physically ready for the training camp grind.
"During camp the first two, three days you get them camp legs and your lactic acid in your legs builds up and your legs are really tired," Felciano said Wednesday. "I feel like the people that came in early got an advantage of we've already been through that process. All of our legs were dead yesterday. We were fortunate enough that we got the regeneration in and practice today and our legs are gonna be feeling great come Friday."
Another benefit to the camp, which featured all 23 rookies on the roster along with four quarterbacks and seven select players - of whom you can see the list here - is more reps. For many of these young players, the reps were already scarce and only stand to get fewer and farther between as camp goes along.
Those reps along with focused study time the past few days has helped them mentally as they are seeing a completely new NFL playbook. They also receive a level of attention from the coaches they wouldn't otherwise receive.
"Definitely just a refresher," said fourth round linebacker Ben Heeney. "Going from OTA's and having that time off, getting those three days is definitely going to give us a leg up against the veterans when they come back because we've had these three days to refresh our minds and just get back to talking football with the coaches and stuff like that, so I think it's definitely going to be a help for us for the rookies and for the injured guys that got the chance to get a leg on the vets."
These rookies need all the help they can get as they battle established NFL players for roster spots. This new warm up pre training camp ‘minicamp', if you will, should help level the playing field and smooth out the learning curve as well.