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Raiders 2018 mandatory minicamp recap: Notes, observations

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NFL: Oakland Raiders-Minicamp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The offseason program is over for the Raiders. So, before we head off into the 6-week break, let’s wrap this puppy in a bow. Here are my notes and observations from the three-day minicamp.

  • Raiders who missed all of minicamp were DE Khalil Mack (contract holdout), DT Eddie Vanderdoes (ACL), S Marcus Gilchrist (hamstring), OL Jordan Simmons, and CB Nick Nelson (meniscus). Gareon Conley missed the final two practices (groin).
  • The first two days were full speed practices with team sessions. The third day was walk-thrus only.
  • Jon Gruden is hilarious. It has never been more of a struggle to not tweet out some of the things he will say at practice. The way he gets on his players, but still has them cracking up is something to behold. He is all energy and passion and has a million quips and digs mixed with praise.
  • Practice moves at a quick pace. It allows for a lot of reps to happen, and carries the added benefit of keeping the players thinking on their feet. For the most part it moves smoothly which makes the mistakes look glaring and everything comes to a screeching halt. And of course it’s accompanied by a profanity laced tirade from Gruden.
  • Rich Gannon attended practice. He looked just like an assistant coach on the field, which caused me to miss him for a while. He was dressed the same as the assistants, and stood either on the sideline looking down the line of scrimmage or with the other players behind the huddle. He observed what most of us had observed — that Gruden and Derek Carr are on the same page pretty much all the time.
  • Speaking of Derek Carr, he looks great. He usually looks good with regard to his arm talent and such, but that’s not what I’m talking about. He looks like he has been in Gruden’s system for a while and that’s saying a lot. Gruden is quite pleased with the grasp Carr has on the playbook so early on. The closest you get to Gruden getting on Carr is wanting Carr to not be so nice and to hold his teammates more accountable for their mistakes instead of just moving on.
  • Gruden has complained a great deal about the lack of time he has to develop his players. In particular the quarterbacks. Christian Hackenberg lasted three weeks and was cut just before minicamp to make room for defensive linemen Frostee Rucker and Ahtyba Rubin.
  • Connor Cook has been getting the bulk of the reps behind Derek Carr. Not because he has performed better than EJ Manuel, but because he need more work. The result is Cook throwing a lot of interceptions. He threw three picks in the first two days to Karl Joseph, Dallin Leavitt, and Erik Harris. He doesn’t look like he’s improved since last year when he lost the primary backup job to Manuel.
  • Marshawn Lynch is clearly the number one running back. It’s also clear Gruden sees Doug Martin getting a fair amount of work as well. Based on what I’ve seen, I would guess Martin gets about half as many carries as Lynch, which would have him taking one out of every three carries on average. Fairly standard for Gruden offenses.
  • The top four receivers on the team are Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson, Martavis Bryant, and Ryan Switzer. It leaves Seth Roberts on the outside looking in. He is in a battle for a roster spot with several other receivers right now.
  • Switzer is seeing a good deal of time in the slot with the first team offense. Gruden likes his new receiver and he is loving being a key part of this offense.
  • Martavis Bryant is very impressive. Right off, he just looks the part. He is also fast and has soft hands. A few times he got behind his defender for long touchdowns, showing the kind of intriguing talent he can be. That is, of course, if he even sees the field this season, which is currently in doubt.
  • Breno Giacomini has been the first team right tackle. He missed the first two days of minicamp, but when he returned, he was back at first team right tackle. While he was out, Ian Silberman and rookie Brandon Parker saw the most work at right tackle, but the team may also see what David Sharpe and Kolton Miller can do there at some point.
  • New additions Frostee Rucker and Ahtyba Rubin worked into the defensive line. Rucker saw time at defensive end and Rubin at nose tackle. Rucker had a nice looking run stuff on day two.
  • There was a fight on the first day between defensive end Fadol Brown and rookie tackle Brandon Parker. Brown was the aggressor. The two got locked up rolled around on the ground for a few seconds before teammates broke it up. The consensus was the offensive linemen were proud of Parker for standing up for himself and Gruden was pissed at Brown for starting a fight.
  • Weak side line backer is not settled. Emmanuel Lamur got most first team reps in OTA’s, then Kyle Wilber was given some first team reps in minicamp. Gruden has mentioned Nicholas Morrow among those who have impressed him as well. I expect that competition to continue into training camp.
  • Karl Joseph had an interception on Connor Cook day one. He was around the ball a lot in the camp and the defensive scheme seems to fit his skillset quite nicely.
  • With Marcus Gilchrist out all of minicamp, the recipient of his reps was Erik Harris. He answered with an interception on day two, a day after Gruden praised him for his play. Harris joined the team at the beginning of last season as a special teams guy.
  • Eddy Piñeiro and Giorgio Tavecchio alternated days of kicking. The job still looks like Piñeiro’s to lose despite the insistence by the coaches that they will battle for the job. His day was the first day of minicamp and he made all his kicks except a 57-yarder that was wide left. Tavecchio missed from 43 and 55.
  • Most of the players have a full six weeks before reporting to training camp in Napa on July 26. The rookies, first year players, and quarterbacks will report a few days before that for pre-camp warm-up.