Number 2 and number 3. They were the most notable on day two of the Raiders minicamp. Number 2 (for now) is rookie top pick cornerback Gareon Conley and number 3 is backup quarterback EJ Manuel. It’s where they were seen that was interesting.
At first there was no sight of Conley. Through walk-thrus and warm-ups he was not on the field. He showed up after warm-ups without a helmet and watched practice from the sideline. This suggests it is injury related, though we have no way to know exactly what is going on at this point of the offseason.
Conley had been taking the field at cornerback with the second team defense. While taking the field at quarterback across from him was second year man, Connor Cook. That changed today. Taking the field after Derek Carr and the first team offense left was EJ Manuel, moving up from third team.
From there, both players performed like they deserved their newfound place on the depth chart. Manuel was looked the best he has looked since joining the team. He threw several big passes to his new favorite target, Cordarrelle Patterson.
On his first drive, he threw two touchdowns to Patterson. The first was on a rope over Patterson’s shoulder in stride on a corner route. The second was a crossing pattern by Patterson and Manuel thread the needle to him in traffic.
Cook then came in with the third team and promptly telegraphed a pass on an out route intended for Isaac Whitney where Shalom Luani stepped in front of it with nothing but open field in front of him for a pick six.
Later, when it was Manuel’s turn again, he threw another gorgeous pass to Patterson on a go route up the right sideline. Patterson had beaten Dexter McDonald on the route and Manuel saw it, putting it up high at the goal line for the score.
“EJ did a heck of a job putting the ball only where I could get it, so I just gotta praise EJ,” said Patterson. “I got the touchdown. Everybody got excited, so I got excited.”
Cook then took the field again and again threw a pick six on a telegraphed out route. This time it was undrafted rookie Breon Borders who snatched it and ran the other way.
There is one more day of minicamp practice and at this rate, EJ has earned the right to continue running with the second team ahead of Cook heading into the break.
Along with Conley, others who missed practice were OT Marshall Newhouse, OT Austin Howard, C Jon Feliciano, DT Darius Latham, DL Jihad Ward, DE Fadol Brown, and LB Neiron Ball. Eddie Vanderdoes is not in attendance due to graduation obligations at UCLA.
Seth Roberts and Derek Carr connected on a gorgeous pass and catch. Roberts lined up in the slot across from TJ Carrie and ran a hitch and go up the right sideline and Carr nailed him over the shoulder. Carrie was right there but had no shot at it.
Shalom Luani had a couple nice plays on the day. The pick six on Connor Cook and later knocking down a pass from Carr to what appeared to be a wide open Amari Cooper up the left sideline. Luani came flying over from center field to swat the ball down. This is one seventh rounder who is making a serious case for playing time.
Raiders players, coaches, and staff all headed directly from practice to go bowling together. It’s the last chance they’ll have for team bonding. After tomorrow’s practice most of them will be packing up to head out of town for the offseason.