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Raiders training camp day 9 wrap: Ben Heeney stuffs the run

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Levi Damien

It was family day today for the Raiders players and coaches. Many of the players' wives and kids were in attendance and afterward they all had Kinders BBQ and the kids played on the field.

Easily the cutest moment was during drills when the defensive backs came near the sideline and Charles Woodson's kids, who look to be around 3-5 years of age and were all wearing #24 T-shirts with their own names on the back, yelled "Daddy!" and he waved at them and said a little something to them. Pretty sure that right there is what it's all about.

Injury updates: There actually is no updates from yesterday. Rod Streater is still on the Non-Football injury list. He and Clive Walford haven't practiced once this camp. Del Rio spoke on their status after practice. Also still out are running backs Roy Helu, Michael Dyer, and Jamize Olawale, tight end Lee Smith, tackle Menelik Watson, and linebacker Sio Moore.

Observations:

In running game team sessions, Ben Heeney lit it up. He was working with the second team mostly which means his assignment was Trent Richardson and George Atkinson III. And he made their lives miserable the whole time. On two consecutive runs, Heeney stuffed Richardson. The first was for a loss when he got into the backfield, the other was right at the line for a short gain. He was then plugging holes to stuff GA3 on at least two runs.

There is no question Heeney has great instinct for finding the ball and plugging the gap. He also lays a pretty solid tackle once he gets there too. So, as a reminder for those who were comparing him to Miles Burris when the Raiders drafted him, there really is very little similarity between the two. Heeney's only moment of weakness today was having Marcel Reece catch a midrange pass on him and then shake him for a big gain. Then again, that's pretty much what Reece does to linebackers.

Catch of the day: Andre Holmes jump ball

Jump balls are what Andre Holmes NFL career rests upon. That's why he is here. He had one of those signature catches today. First he shook Neiko Thorpe who went inside when Holmes went outside and he was so wide open Ponder threw a pass that was so late, it felt like it was in slow motion getting there and he still had time to catch it for a touchdown. The offense then reset with McGloin in and he looked Holmes' way for a touchdown as well. Only Holmes was not open. At all. Dexter McDonald was in coverage and McGloin saw Holmes had gotten behind him and put it in the air. Quickly there were like three guys in the area but McGloin had put it high were only Holmes could get it and he went up high and pulled it down for the score. Now if he could just do that more consistently, the Raiders would really have something.

Ground attack: Taiwan Jones shoots through

Taiwan Jones has been a cornerback the last couple seasons and last season was on injured reserve the entire year. He returned to the team this year and was switched back to running back which is where he began his NFL career. And it's clear that he has not lost his electric speed. He isn't very shifty and most of his runs, he has a habit of bouncing runs outside a lot. But if he finds a crease up the middle, which he did today, he can hit that hole quick and be gone in a flash.

Today, just after we watched Richardson and GA3 getting nothing on the ground, Jones got a handoff, got a hole, and whoosh, he was shot through a cannon. If the Raiders can find a way to use it, he could be a nice weapon to have in the arsenal.

Premium rush: Khalil Mack (yawn)

He got around Austin Howard for a sack on Carr today. SSDD.

Pick of the litter: Chase Williams

Matt McGloin tried to throw a quick pass to Josh Harper on a slant and didn't seem to notice linebacker Chase Williams standing there. Williams simply reached to his left and picked it off.

Gotta step it up: Trent Richardson, Christian Ponder

What an abysmal day for Trent Richardson. I don't think I saw him get more than two yards on any run all day. Heeney obviously had his number, but it wasn't just him. Larry Asante came up and stuffed him twice and Spencer Hadley got his shot in as well for a loss.

Ponder has not done well with anticipation throws. Instead of seeing his man will get open, he often waits for them to be open before throwing the ball. That touchdown pass he threw to Holmes worked out, but it should have been far easier than it was. Holmes had to wait for the ball to get there and Neiko Thorpe recovered and was nearly able to come back and defend it. There was another pass to Rivera in which Rivera went about 15 yards to a soft spot and turned to face him. Ponder's throw didn't come until Rivera had already turned and Jonathan Dowling was able to swoop in and bat the ball down as it arrived. Anticipating the open man is absolutely crucial and part of it is knowing exactly where his receivers will be as well as reading the defense.

Closing thoughts:

There seemed to be an emphasis on giving the second tier guys more work today. We didn't see as much of guys like Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, and Latavius Murray. It's a great idea if you're the Raiders because they have seen what those guys bring and need to get a better idea of what they have behind them. And those guys in turn get to work with Derek Carr. Plus, a bit of a break is always welcome.

Tomorrow is a day off for the Raiders and Del Rio said there could be some evaluating of the different positions to see if they want to shuffle some things around. We'll see how much changes when they return to practice on Tuesday.