The Raiders were in pads Thursday for the fourth straight practice. The intensity was ramped up, which meant a few scuffles, but it also meant the team got some really great work in. Following practice, I asked Khalil Mack about it.
"It's always intense out there," said Mack. "But the one thing that could switch up is the different ways and the different phases, different schemes, and the different things you see on the outside looking in just taking place over a period of time. We're adding different things to our defense as well as offense is adding different schemes so that's probably what you saw today, the intensity switching up."
This is usually how it goes. After two days in no pads to start camp, two days in pads, a day off, two more days in pads with the coaches wanting to make the second one really count. For that reason I would expect Friday to be a more dialed back, unpadded practice, focused on teaching based on what they learned today.
OUT: There were several new additions to the sideline brigade. Most notably was Karl Joseph, who was working with a trainer doing light stretches in the workout area through much of practice. Clive Walford initially took the field but was quickly sent back. He and Taiwan Jones watched that latter portion of practice from the side. Leon Orr was also not at practice as were SaQwan Edwards and Colton Underwood for the second straight day. Denico Autry remains on the PUP list with a wrist injury.
All three quarterbacks were off target on long balls in the early session. Carr threw two passes just out of bounds intended for Amari Cooper and Andre Holmes along the right sideline, McGloin threw one too far for Seth Roberts to catch up with, and Connor Cook overthrew Joe Hansley up the left sideline.
The first and only long pass completion in the first session came from Cook, who connected with Johnny Holton up the left sideline with Kenneth Durden in tow.
McGloin had a couple of nice short connections with Mychal Rivera. Those two seem to be on the same page quite a bit. Oddly enough, they are two of the longer tenured Raiders players, so it would make some sense. He later dropped a pass into Jalen Richard who had gotten behind the defense for a touchdown. Not nearly as impressive as the AC/DC hookups, but commendable just the same.
AC/DC would do some work in red zone drills with Carr throwing a laser to a crossing Cooper and Amerson defending. The pass was perfect, as was the catch, and the touchdown was made. They weren't done either as Carr connected with Amari in the back right corner of the end zone, again with Amerson defending.
It wasn't all Amari greatness and Amerson getting burnt though. Cooper had a big drop. It was a crossing pattern in which he shook Sean Smith and was wide open, only to have the Carr pass bounce off his hands. Amerson later had a textbook pass defended on a shallow out route to Crabtree. He stepped underneath the pass and smacked it down. Nearly picked it.
For all DJ Hayden's good work in the slot, he has lapses too. Today Seth Roberts shook him on a 10-yard cross from right to left and Carr threw the ball just as he made his break, hitting Roberts in stride with a couple steps on Hayden. It made for a sizable gain.
Andre Holmes has been disappointing much of camp. He didn't come back to get a McGloin pass that was luckily just batted down by Dexter McDonald. He couldn't shake Neiko Thorpe and had a McGloin pass knocked down. McGloin went back to Holmes up the left sideline, and put it right where Holmes likes it; up high over the defender where Holmes can go up and get it. Holmes went up, got both hands on it, and dropped it on the way down. That's his primary function on this team. And he hasn't proven reliable doing it at all.
With Karl Joseph sidelined, it was Dewey McDonald who stepped up to first team. In the offseason when Joseph and Reggie Nelson were both out, it was McDonald and Nate Allen stepping up to first team. Allen has played both safety positions, so it was a question whether he would be the man to step up regardless of who went down. That question was answered today, as Allen is clearly seen by the Raiders as a free safety only.
The playmaker on defense today was Dexter McDonald who had three passes defended. One I mentioned above on the McGloin pass for Holmes, one in the end zone on a Cook pass intended for Nathan Palmer, and knocked down another McGloin pass later on. He had an interception in yesterday's practice. He needs to string together days like this to secure a spot in this secondary.
There were no one-on-one trench drills today as the focus was on implementing new plays full speed in full pads.