In the past few days, Bruce Irvin has been champing at the bit to get to training camp. The always passionate pass rusher is active on social media showing his energy and excitement. He has some extra pep in his step this year because new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is switching him back to defensive end, which figures to give him even more chances to get to the quarterback. He is eager to finally reach his long awaited goal of double digit sacks.
It’s that time again! Damn I need double digits this year! I NEED IT!! pic.twitter.com/HWKGZ6B3t2— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) July 25, 2018
That excitement is tempered this year, however, as he arrives for camp without his All Pro bookend, Khalil Mack here.
Mack is, of course, holding out while he awaits a contract extension.
Would be much easier with @52Mack_ on the either side! Just saying !— Bruce Irvin (@BIrvin_WVU11) July 25, 2018
As easy as it may be for Irvin to have Mack on the other side, it didn’t slow him down on day one. Even though he is supposedly doing less dropping back into coverage, he still managed to collect an interception.
EJ Manuel threw short for Griff Whalen on a cross and Irvin was right there to pick it off and return it for a touchdown. The rest of the defense was in tow to congratulate him on the turnover.
Later in practice, Marshawn Lynch went up the gut for a few yards and though defenders aren’t allowed to tackle to the ground, they can still punch at the ball. Irvin chased Marshawn down from behind, punching under his arm to pop the ball loose for a fumble. Irvin then ran after Marshawn, who was trying to recover it (unsuccessfully) and playfully gave him the business while he was on the ground.
These guys are competitors and for now at least, their competition is playful.
Essentially they all take on the energy of their head coach. Gruden is a seemingly endless source of infectious energy. His players say time and time again that he is the same guy no matter what the situation or scenery.
Injuries: Starting camp on the PUP list are Donald Penn (foot), Eddie Vanderdoes (knee), and PJ Hall (pec). Penn and Vanderdoes were working on the side with trainers while Hall was not present.
Absent: Khalil Mack (contract), Vadal Alexander (unknown)
Returning: Rookie fourth round pick cornerback Nick Nelson was practicing for the first time with the Raiders. He had a torn meniscus which he suffered in the draft process that kept him out of the offseason program. Gareon Conley was back from a strained groin he suffered on the second day of minicamp.
With Penn still out, Kolton Miller was again working with the first team at left tackle while Breno Giacomini continued to work at right tackle.
Mario Edwards Jr remained the first team defensive tackle alongside Justin Ellis with Tank Carradine working first team in place of Khalil Mack.
Marquel Lee got work with the first team at middle linebacker with Derrick Johnson working second team.
Erik Harris was working with the first team at free safety. Hey, I did a feature on him this week. He has quite a story. If you’re interested, give it a read.
Unlike offseason practices, there was music. There was even a DJ and he would occasionally try to get the crowd worked up. At one point even Gruden was like “Where’s the music at?” Some in the crowd cheered when he said that and he turned to them to soak up their admiration.
It wasn’t long into practice before Connor Cook threw an interception. He had one just about every practice we could view this offseason. Shaquille Richardson picked this one off. Cook also threw a ball a bit late underneath for Seth Roberts that Gareon Conley came up and swatted down. It’s been increasingly difficult to find positive plays from Cook, now in his third season.
He wasn’t alone though. EJ Manuel was intercepted by Bruce Irvin on a short pass for Griff Whalen. Manuel also had a pass broken up underneath intended for Dwayne Harris that Shareece Wright batted down.
It was a pick party and Derek Carr joined in too. He rolled right and looked for Saeed Blacknall up the right sideline only to have Tevin Mitchell streak over from centerfield to pick it off along the sideline. Mitchell may not have held onto it completely inbounds, but it’s all the same to Carr.
Carr seemed like he was trying to throw through his receivers all day, even in short yardage. It made from some tough catches at times and some drops.
One drop came from Jordy Nelson who had a Carr pass right in his gut bounce out. But in true Carr fashion, on the first play of the next team session, he went deep for Nelson on a slant for a 75-yard touchdown, beating Karl Joseph.
“I saw Jordy run good routes,” Carr said of Nelson. “He knew what he was doing and he caught the ball. He’s good. I tried to sneak one in on him today a little bit, but for the most part, we know what Jordy can do. The thing that you hear about that he can’t run anymore, that’s false. I can tell you, he’s one of the fastest skill guys that we have still. He can run. You see that by his route running. If he can win on underneath routes, that means DB’s are scared about what he can do over the top. He’s still Jordy Nelson, that’s for sure.”
Overall, it’s pretty typical that the defense would outplay the offense on day one. It usually takes some time for the offense to get into rhythm.
It’s sure good to be back in Napa for another training camp. Keep it here for reports every day and click the button below to follow along live.