It was the second day of pads in Raiders training camp, offering longer looks at the battles in the trenches. The offense and the defense also switched jersey colors with the defense getting their chance in white which is preferable in the hot sunny Napa days.
Injury updates: Back on the field off of the PUP list was return man and receiver Trindon Holliday, making his first appearance in camp. Also returning after one day away was Dexter McDonald. Missing from practice for the first time was Roy Helu Jr.
Still out was Clive Walford who has now missed all of training camp with an undisclosed injury. The PUP list now consists of Stacy McGee, who was doing work on the side along with Trent Richardson who is on the NFI list. Both appeared to be moving well. Richardson also did appear to be leaner than he had been earlier this offseason, closer to the target weight as Del Rio had pointed out on Sunday. Rod Streater is also still on the NFI list. Del Rio said he is here, though I have not seen him around practice at all over these first four days.
In the three-way battle for the top two cornerback spots between D.J. Hayden, T.J. Carrie, and Keith McGill, the one without who has fallen behind is D.J. Hayden. After not standing out all camp and a disappointing day 3, he worked almost exclusively with the second team defense in practice today with Carrie and McGill getting the first team reps. Both Carrie and McGill had passes defended on Michael Crabtree on passes very similar to ones Hayden gave up to him yesterday.
While with the second team, he got his hands on a couple passes. One was a long pass up the right side from Christian Ponder intended for Kris Durham. Hayden played it well and defended it. Later he had another short Ponder pass go right through his hands. He laid on the ground afterward realizing that should have been an interception.
In blocking drills today, they featured some of the big fellas in the middle. What stood out to me was the battles between Gabe Jackson and Justin Ellis. The reason it stood out was just how dominant Jackson was in those battles. On one snap, he drove Ellis back and to the ground. They got up and went at it again, with Ellis trying to get pressure, but having Jackson stone wall him the entire way. Jackson was chosen a round before Ellis in last year's draft, but he is dominating their match-ups by a few rounds.
Christian Ponder and Matt McGloin continue to share second team reps in practice with neither one distinguishing themselves as the clear cut choice for the job behind Derek Carr. Though it speaks well of McGloin considering throughout most of the offseason, the job belonged to Ponder. While Ponder throws a beautiful ball, he hasn't shown himself to be consistently accurate. And while McGloin's passes don't always look pretty, he gets the job done and every now and then, he will show unexpected arm strength.
Catch of the day: Andre Holmes sideline grab(s)
It is with some hesitance that Holmes get the mention for the catch of the day. His first one was the best one and it was in part because of a well thrown pass from Matt McGloin up the left sideline. Holmes used his size to reach over Neiko Thorpe and pull the pass down for a big gainer. Unfortunately, on the very next play, he dropped an easy pass a few yards off the line of scrimmage. Later, he was the recipient of a Derek Carr signature back shoulder pass, with Keith McGill turned around and came down with it for another long gain. Holmes has a unique set of skills - long pass jump balls. After that, all bets are off.
Premium rush: Who else, but Mack?
He shucked Menelik Watson to stuff Latavius Murray for no gain on a run. Later, Christian Ponder was rolling right and Mack chased him down for a ‘sack'. One other time he got good pressure on Carr, though it was hard to tell if it would have resulted in a sack. Either way, it was disruptive.
After practice, I asked Ken Norton Jr if he had ever coached a player quite like Khalil Mack.
"Khalil is special," Norton said. "There are a lot of players that might be similar. But he's in a class of his own. Bruce Irvin in Seattle was similar. But, at the same time, Khalil is built. He's athletic. He's smart. And he's relentless. And those things, that versatility, gives you the ability to move him at end, at back, or put him behind the ball. He's amazing. He's the type of guy that we want to surround with good football players."
Pick of the litter: Keith McGill fade defense
Remember how day three ended with Derek Carr completing a great fade pass to Michael Crabtree in the back right corner of the endzone? Well, they tried it again today. The pass looked just as on target and Crabtree had position just as before. The difference was instead of a trailing DJ Hayden, Crabtree had the 6-3 Keith McGill leaping right with him to disrupt the catch and knock it down incomplete.
Gotta step it up: Taiwan Jones
Overall he looks just as fast as ever now that he's back at running back. That was never a concern. His issue has always been ball security. And if he hopes to ever be trusted with it, he can't ever fumble. He fumbled today. He was attempting to come around the right edge of the line but was met there by Denico Autry who hit him pretty hard and the ball popped out.
Jones has been the team's gunner in the past. He was injured all last season and being an option as a return man and/or running back increases his chances of the new coaches keeping him around. He was a great gunner, but any player who can offer those services as well as be a solid position player increase their chances of making the team.
There is a pretty healthy amount of give and take between the offense and defense in Raiders practice. Neither side of the ball is dominating the other, which is probably a good thing.
We now have our first day off from camp on Tuesday, so if you are into these daily camp wraps, sorry you won't get your fix tomorrow. They will be back again Wednesday at 4:25pm. The day off will allow me to catch up on some writing, so there will still be to keep me and you busy in the meantime.