Today the Raiders were back in pads. They were back. In. Pads. It was an afternoon practice this time which unfortunately took place as two former Raiders greats -- Ron Wolf and Tim Brown -- were giving their Hall of Fame speeches, but with the preseason opener coming up in less than a week, the show must, you know.... go on.
Injury updates: Justin Tuck was back on the practice field today after a veteran day off on Friday. The tight end and running back groups were pretty thin today. Clive Walford still not practicing and Lee Smith not out there either, while the running backs were down three guys with Roy Helu, Michael Dyer, and Jamize Olawale all not practicing. Sio Moore was also not practicing with an unknown injury. It's unknown if it's in any way related to his surgically repaired hip.
Walford was taking some tosses from an assistant on the side which is good news for his progress. He has been out all of camp with an undisclosed injury. Menelik Watson also remained out with injury. Rod Streater remains on the Non-Football Illness list.
Blocking drills can be interesting to watch. Today they would usually pit the same two lineman against each other three times in a row to see who wins those battles. The best looking offensive lineman was probably Rodney Hudson who went up against Dan Williams and shut him out completely. The third time he blocked him right into the ground. As if Raiders fans needed any more reason to be excited about their team's new center.
Also doing well in blocking were UDFA rookie Quinterrius Eatmon against Ricky Lumpkin and Matt McCants who was working at right tackle against Denico Autry and Max Valles.
Rookie second round pick Mario Edwards went against Khalif Barnes with Barnes winning 2 out of 3. The one Edwards won, he got inside of Barnes' pads and knocked him off balance to get by him. One out of three is pretty good. That's what Khalil Mack got when he went up against Donald Penn. Even though Mack was not satisfied with Penn winning 2 of 3.
The worst blocking was probably Tony Bergstrom working at center who was pushed back by Leon Orr the first time, and had to hold him on the third one. Orr deserves credit for his relentless rush as well, of course.
Catch of the day: Amari Cooper bomb
Cooper abolutely toasted DJ Hayden on what looked to be about a 70-yard bomb. He went straight up field on the hashes, getting a step ahead of Hayden and it was over. Carr saw Cooper had Hayden beat and aired it out about 40 yards downfield. Cooper finished it off with about 30 yards of open field ahead of him for the score.
Premium rush: Benson Mayowa run stuff
Mayowa got a great jump off the snap to get around right tackle Austin Howard easily and met Latavius Murray right after he got the ball and stuff him for a loss of 3-4 yards.
Strike force: Daily Carr to Crabtree fade
Every practice it seems Derek Carr throws a fade pass to Crabtree in the endzone and it is usually successful. Today, after a successful drive by the offense, they went for the two-point conversion with the pass to Crabtree who got Keith McGill turned around and went up to high point the ball just inbounds. Afterward McGill said "I'll get you next time, bruh."
Pick of the litter: McGill got him last time
Before Crabtree caught that 2-point fade pass, McGill had gotten the best of him. Crabtree had gone up the right sideline on a long pass from Carr and McGill timed it right to get his arm up and disrupt Crabtree's catch attempt. Carr ended up going to Mychal Rivera on the next play for a first down and then to Rivera again for the score. McGill also had a pass defended on Andre Holmes on a Ponder pass.
I must also mention TJ Carrie had two passes defended on Amari Cooper today. In both instances, Carrie reached Cooper just after the ball and hit Cooper to knock the ball out of his hands.
Gotta step it up: Austin Howard, Tony Bergstrom
Howard has been getting first team reps with Menelik Watson out. He needs to step up because this could be the only opportunity he has to win the job back. If he performs well, they could stick with him even when Watson returns. If not, the job will be waiting for Watson upon his return. At which point it would be difficult to try and take the job back again.
For Bergstrom, he could be watching his career with the Raiders end. These days he is working as the backup center and hasn't been exactly locking down the job. Along with his struggles to keep Orr out of the backfield in drills, he also gave up a run stuff to Denico Autry in team sessions. Bergstrom was the first draft pick ever by Reggie McKenzie as Raiders GM. Thus far he is not making a great case to remain on the team.
Early practice tomorrow at 10:20am. As always, click the button below to follow me on twitter live from camp.