For the Raiders players, they have put on a set of pads and hit someone in six months. That drought ends today when they take the practice field at 4:20pm in Napa.
You can bet most of these players are pretty eager to finally put on some pads.
"The game's played in pads so you really can't get a full evaluation until you get your team in pads and see them compete," said Jack Del Rio on Saturday. "That's the next part, so we're excited to get that phase going and then that'll be part of what we do. The amount of contact we have in today's NFL is limited, so we have to be very purposeful when we are in pads that we get the work we need and that we prepare ourselves fundamentally to be able to do the blocking and tackling that's necessary to be a good football team."
No player wants to get in pads more than Khalil Mack who has his sights set on building off of a stellar rookie season.
"I'm rearing to get to the pads day," Mack said Friday. "I like the feel of that first contact. And it's all downhill from there."
With pads comes increased intensity which means a couple things - a few more heated exchanges and a greater chance for injuries.
The heated exchanges are just going to happen. It's part of the game as players try to earn a roster spots and/or playing time in such a short window of time. The injuries become a risk of overzealousness as well.
"We're trying to work as intelligent as possible in terms of being smart about what we do," said Del Rio. "Stay off the ground. Don't throw guys into that. We don't cut. We don't tackle live. We don't hit the quarterback. There are just certain things that you can do and stress that will be a part of us practicing all year - training camp, mini-camp, during the season - it won't change in terms of being smart about how we practice."
One of the great benefits of padded practices is the better ability to judge what we see from the players, especially the linemen. They can begin pass rushing drills which tests the blocking offensive linemen as well as the pass rushers and run stoppers.
Having pads changes pretty much everything. It's the next step. And from the media perspective, it is easier to trust what you see from the players.
Back at it at 4:20pm tonight. Keep up with me on Twitter by clicking the button below.