The week for Amari Cooper has been an on again, off again affair. He got banged up and left last Monday’s practice with an apparent leg injury. Later he was seen with an ice pack on his left knee.
Tuesday he was sidelined, but he returned Thursday following the team’s day off as Del Rio said he expected. What he may not have expected was the next day Coop would be back on the shelf. This time he was sporting a compression wrap on that left leg.
It appeared today that Coop was once again, ready to go. The team wasn’t in pads today and he was suited up with helmet. But after the stretching period, Coop spent the rest of the day watching from the side.
Michael Crabtree and Seth Roberts got work with the first team early on, but eventually they too were watching quite a bit as the Raiders were giving some of the other receivers some time with Derek Carr and the first team offense.
Those getting some rare first team work today were Cordarrelle Patterson, Johnny Holton, Jaydon Mickens, and KJ Brent.
Patterson has been the team’s fourth receiver, working almost exclusively with EJ Manuel and the second team. He was added this offseason as a free agent.
The other three were last year’s undrafted free agent standouts. Holton was the team’s fifth receiver while Mickens and Brent were on the practice squad.
That’s valuable time for those guys because should they make the roster, Derek Carr will be the QB from whom they will catch passes. It also shows where they are in the Raiders pecking order at the wide receiver position.
Aside from the seeming fakeout from Coop, the group of players who were not practicing remained the same.
Second round pick safety Obi Melifonwu missed his second straight practice as did fourth round pick tackle David Sharpe.
Defensive end Fadol Brown remains out. He was lost in the first camp practice.
Still on PUP is Gareon Conley, Jon Feliciano, and Jihad Ward. Feliciano and Conley were both on the field watching again as was Melifonwu.
Still on NFI is Ben Heeney and Cooper Helfet.
Discouraging is the fact that none of these players were working on the side during practice. While Mario Edwards Jr and Bruce Irvin were out, they were often seen working on the side in some capacity. The complete absence from the practice field for guys like Heeney, Helfet, and Brown is not encouraging for their chances of returning anytime soon.
Catch of the day: KJ Brent lined up on the right side and though he is not known for his speed, he managed to get behind the Raiders secondary. Derek Carr saw him about to break open and launch a perfect pass right to him streaking up the middle of the field for an 80-yard touchdown.
Defensive play of the day: This one goes to Amerson for a couple plays that were near consecutive. He was lining up out right, guarding Patterson. First Patterson went inside and Amerson beat him to his spot, reaching around to swat the ball down just as it got to him. The second time Patterson went out and again, Amerson was right there to smack the ball away.
Gotta step it up: Sean Smith was once again relegated to second team duties. What coaches hope to see from a guy who is demoted is a couple things. First of all, improvement. After all, he’s going against lesser competition, he should outclass them. He hasn’t. Second is motivation. Smith’s body language is terrible. He is loafing and moping. He looks like he’s in his head instead of doing what he needs to do to get back in the coaches’ good graces.
With shells on today, there were no candidates for best run. But Marshawn Lynch did have a nifty catch and run. He caught a pass on a quick slant out of the backfield, made a couple moves and was off for a long run. Seth Roberts even laid a nice little ‘block’ downfield.
Eddie Vanderdoes has done some good things the past couple days. He had a sack in Friday’s practice and got in the backfield along with Bruce Irvin today. Shocking to see him catch on so quickly considering he was out for all of the team’s offseason practices with college graduation obligations. He’s a very strong player and at his current weight of about 305 he’s quite agile.
The one interception of the day was an EJ Manuel pass intended for Keon Hatcher. Antonio Hamilton was on Hatcher’s hip and got a hand on the ball as it arrived. Shalom Luani caught it off the deflection for the pick.
Johnny Holton had a good day overall. He caught passes on both sides of the field from EJ Manuel early in practice, the second was a comebacker out left with Sean Smith in coverage. Holton did a nice job of shielding off Smith to make the catch. Later, working with the first team, he caught a pass from Carr on an in route with Carrie covering. It’s not hard to see why the coaches want to see Holton in a more expanded role this season.