The day many Raiders players and coaches have been looking forward to for months is finally here. Today they don pads for the first time since last season.
"It’ll be good once that pads come on to be able evaluate [position battles] even more," Offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave said of the first pads day.
"Just for it to be more realistic. We’ll try to stay off the ground. There won’t be any cut blocks, there won’t be any tackling, but we’re trying to simulate the game as best we can here at practice while keeping people healthy. So, the pads will be a welcome addition for all of our players. We don’t get a lot of them, maybe just a handful over preseason. I think Jack mentioned the other day there’s only 8-10, maybe a dozen padded practices, so we gotta make the most of each and every one."
Today is when the coaches can really begin to see who shakes out among the offensive and defensive lineman and linebackers mostly. It’s difficult to get a good judgment on their blocking, ability to shed blocks, and pass rushing without pads.
Pads also change things for receivers and defensive backs. Those who stand out in just jerseys may not perform as well with less freedom of movement in pads. So, again, it offers a better judge of a player’s talent.
The danger is players getting a bit overzealous, which can lead to injuries. The coaches preach over and over again that the players "take care of one another" as teammates. Even still, there are usually at least a couple scuffles.