The first of three minicamp days for the Raiders is in the books, and it was surprisingly very interesting. There was a lot more intensity than there had been in OTA's, which was just was Jack Del Rio was looking for.
"We've been working a while on some of the fundamentals that we're looking for. So, you want to see that," said Del Rio. "Some of the growth in the system, understanding, the guys playing fast. If you look at our team right now, what I'm liking is how fast we're playing. I feel like we've added team speed, but we're playing fast. We're playing with more confidence and that's critical. It's something we're looking to develop, to play faster and faster, play smart, under control, be tough, but that speed is really showing up."
Here are my notes and observations from the day:
Not on the field: Reggie Nelson, Denico Autry, Roy Helu
On side not practicing: Karl Joseph, Clive Walford, Neiron Ball, Neiko Thorpe
Among those seeing full practices who missed time in OTA's were Mario Edwards Jr, Malcolm Smith, and Dan Williams.
Derek Carr and Amari Cooper had an impressive stretch on one drive in team drills, connecting on three straight plays. For some reason the team had SaQwan Edwards guarding Cooper and Carr was feasting on him.
The first was a deep out and Cooper got behind Edwards where Carr put the ball perfectly into his hands along the left sideline. Then Cooper caught a pass on a quick slant in front of Edwards. The next play, Carr didn't even wait for Cooper to get open; he took the snap and flicked the ball up the left sideline and Cooper went and got it, again getting behind Edwards.
"It's awesome to see," Jack Del Rio said of the chemistry between Derek Carr and Amari Cooper. "It's a big part of what we want to be about is developing our players. . . their second year together and I think you see a comfort and understanding of where each other is gonna be and what they can count on from each other. We want to continue to develop that and push hard for that and you saw some nice examples today where they were connecting and looked really good."
McGloin made a couple nice plays as well, along with two of his receivers. The first was Seth Roberts going on a deep cross from right to left with Brynden Trawick in tow and McGloin put it right where only Roberts could get it and tap his toes inbounds. The next was to Joe Hansley who beat Chris Edwards on a deep out. Then it was all Hansley who sprinted for what looked like an 80-yard touchdown.
Connor Cook got in on some second team reps here and there but Jack Del Rio said there is nothing to read into that.
"We're working our guys," said Del Rio. "A lot of different combinations this time of year. Making sure we give guys exposure. So, no I wouldn't read much into any particular position moving around and getting time. Obviously all the quarterbacks need to work and be in different situations."
First and foremost, the news here was the personnel. Most notably the return of Mario Edwards Jr, Dan Williams, and Malcolm Smith to full participation. Edwards was nursing a neck sprain and his return is a pretty big deal. He spoke after practice about his injury and his return. See that here.
Ben Heeney shared time with Smith in the middle, often times both taking the field together.
Sean Smith and David Amerson were holding down their positions pretty well and not allowing much.
DJ Hayden and TJ Carrie split time playing in the slot with the first team and worked outside with the second team. Hayden made a couple good plays on the ball when facing the second team offense, although shortly thereafter he was called for pass interference.
With Karl Joseph and Reggie Nelson not out there, Dewey McDonald and Nate Allen got the bulk of the first team safety reps.
There was one interception on the day. It was a Matt McGloin pass and Korey Toomer was in coverage, but turned around. The ball bounced off his back and Ben Heeney plucked it out of the air to get a good return out of it.
The best rush of the day came from Khalil Mack who came up the right tackle/guard gap on a blitz and was on top of Derek Carr as soon as he got the snap. Carr attempted to get rid of the ball quickly, by Mack engulfed him to bat the ball down.
James Cowser had a well-timed rush as well in which he was in the backfield on a handoff.
Jaydon Mickens attended his first practice since joining the Raiders. He wasn't allowed to before now due to Washington graduation rules. He joined Joe Hansley fielding punts in drills.
In team sessions, TJ Carrie was back fielding punts.