The day has finally come. The Raiders arrived at training camp in Napa. And this year, it had a few interesting moments, and certainly some showmanship as well.
Some players were already here, as they attended the pre-camp warm-up. While others were arriving for the first time from their 6-week vacation.
The first player to speak was Reggie Nelson, who has missed the entire offseason program, making this the first time he has spoken to the media in person. He had some interesting things to say, including that he has been 100% this whole time. He has been taking part in the pre-camp warm-up, but it’s uncertain whether he will be cleared to practice when the team takes the field Friday. One thing is for certain, he’s glad to be reunited with his former head coach Jack Del Rio.
"It was just a no-brainer for me to come back to [Head] Coach Jack [Del Rio]. I know him, and he knows me, he knows what to expect from me and I know what to expect from him. I just wanted to be comfortable and I felt that I would be comfortable here with a young, upcoming team."
The first player to arrive was David Amerson, who recently signed a 4-year extension with the team. This will be his first training camp with the Raiders because he joined the team during last season after being waived by Washington. There is a noticeable contrast for Amerson having been with the team all offseason.
"It’s definitely just a better vibe," Amerson said. "Being familiar with the coaches and players, like you said, this being my second year with the team, it definitely gives me a little kick start."
Even with his big new deal that will keep him with the Raiders for the next five years, he continues to reiterate that his approach remains the same.
"I just have to stay hungry," said Amerson. "I come in with the same mentality, working like I didn’t have anything or I’m starting at the bottom, I’m at the bottom of the depth chart, something like that. You just have to keep that hungry mentality."
"I don’t want to come in, getting complacent or feeling like I’ve arrived or I made it or I’m satisfied where I am because I’m not. I still have a lot of things I have to get better at and I know that, so I just want to go out here and work hard."
Soon, the man, Khalil Mack showed up with his usual jovial, laid back style. But the attention on him didn’t last long as Marquette King walked up sporting a green Power Rangers mask.
He and Mack were at the table together, and Mack couldn’t resist getting a snapchat video of him. You can hear Mack saying to King that he probably can’t even talk in that mask. Then asking him to talk and having King murmur something from under the mask.
Adding to the grand entrances was Sean Smith, who backed down the drive in his white Land Rover, system bumping. He hopped out wearing a black hat with his last name SMITH in large, golden, metal, on the front of his cap.
He was also sporting not one, but TWO Superman gold chains around his neck. One must assume it’s for his first and last name. SS checked in, but didn’t speak to the media. He hopped back in his ride and went back to park it.
Malcolm Smith showed up a short time later. Though without his name in metallic gold on his person, we just had to go by face recognition.
Continuing with the defensive back theme of the day was cornerback TJ Carrie who came out to speak. Carrie is not flashy and offers up anything but a soundbite. Sometimes you wonder if you’re speaking with a football player or a politician.
Carrie is a local product who is battling to be the team’s third cornerback, so there is some interest in his experience entering his third training camp. Another local guy on this team is Taiwan Jones. He spoke as well and tried to make a joke that most of the reporters didn’t realize was sarcasm. He was asked if he looked forward to coming to camp and responded "Yeah. I love it! This is the best part of the season, are you kidding me?"
It was met with silence for a moment until one of the beat writers gave a chuckle, leading Taiwan to add "Tough crowd."
Then after the interview, as he was walking away, he said "Next time you guys laugh at my jokes." To which there was much laughter.
Latavius Murray came to speak a short time later, noting that it’s good to be back at camp instead of just visualizing running the ball and facing tacklers.
"I have dreams about football every day," said Murray. "I wake up, I might jump in my sleep whether it’s a guy I made miss or a guy that hit me. You have to eat, sleep and think football and I do."
All the players are now at the hotel in Napa. They will have meetings today and go through physicals and conditioning tests. The real work begins tomorrow when they hit the practice field.