Wednesday featured the second and final day of scrimmages in Napa with the Detroit Lions. The next time we see these two teams, they will be suited up and taking the field for their preseason opener. If the second day of scrimmages is any indication, it should be a pretty good test for both teams.
“I think we got a lot more out of these two days than we ever could have, had we not done this,” Jon Gruden said after practice. “I’d like to compliment our players certainly and the coaches, and their players and coaches for working under some tough situations. It’s very competitive and very physical out there.”
Their first day going against each other, the Lions won the day by winning the turnover battle 4 to 1. Three of those picks were charged to EJ Manuel, but Jon Gruden doesn’t place the blame squarely on him.
“Yeah we had two tipped balls yesterday. Those things happen. One on seven-on-seven and one in the two-minute drill,” said Gruden. “We’re not cut blocking so sometimes tipped passes happen in practice but we’re stressing the ball every day.”
The other interception was Derek Carr’s first of camp. As he usually does, he took the positive angle on it, suggesting that he was glad to get it out of the way and used it as a learning experience.
Tuesday night, Carr and the rest of the Raiders offense looked at the film in the hopes they could rectify their issues from the first day and not repeat them on the second day. It must have worked, because the Raiders offense didn’t turn the ball over and had some big plays as well.
Mostly, it was a great warm-up for their first live game action. A warm-up for the warm-up, if you will. After hitting each other for a couple weeks, they got to hit someone else.
“It’s real crucial that we got this scrimmage,” said fullback Keith Smith. “It kind of gives you a feel for where you’re at. When you got another opponent instead of going against yourself, you kind of see the aggressiveness come out . . . so it was good from the aspect of seeing things from that perspective.”
For the starters, their work today against the Lions is easily the most they will face them. The first preseason game is all about the depth players and roster hopefuls.
Injuries: Seth Roberts, Arden Key, and Nicholas Morrow weren’t practicing today for the first time. Gruden said Roberts was “sore”. The others are not known at this time. Obi Melifonwu was still out with what Gruden said was a lower leg injury “flare up” of some kind. They are looking into it further. Also still not practicing is Gareon Conley (hip), Marcus Gilchrist (foot), Brandon Parker (ankle), Breno Giacomini (undisclosed), Donald Penn (PUP foot), Eddie Vanderdoes (PUP knee).
Returning: Tevin Mitchel
Passing fancy: A day after Connor Cook was the only of the Raiders’ QB’s not to throw a pick, he had one of the best looking passes as well. Martavis Bryant went on a go route up the left sideline, Cook launched a bomb right into his arms in stride for a long touchdown.
Catch of the day: Once again, it was Bryant. He went on cross from right to left and Darius Slay had perfect position to bat the pass from Derek Carr. Bryant showed great concentration to chase down the ball and catch it anyway and race for a big gain.
“Martavis is not a good talent, he’s a great talent and we’re going to continue to work him into our offense,” said Gruden. “Today showed I think what he’s capable of doing.”
Pick of the litter: Technically the Raiders had no interceptions. At least none that I saw. But Erik Harris came as close as you can to having one. It was a deep pass up the middle from Matt Stafford that Harris tracked down. He leapt in the air and would probably have come down with it, except he has a cast on his right hand protecting his surgically repaired broken finger. It’s plays like that which keep him seeing first team work despite playing one-handed.
Got it covered: The top pass defended came from linebacker Tahir Whitehead. He was covering Luke Wilson in the right flat and what seemed like a reception for Matt Stafford wasn’t after Whitehead dove in full extension to knocked it down. Antonio Hamilton had two instances of great coverage as practice ended. One on a deep pass up the right sideline intended for Marvin Jones. The other on a slant.
Getting’ chippy: We had a little fight today. Lions defensive end Anthony Zettel found himself without anyone to tackle on a run play, so he ran over and hit Jon Feliciano in the back while he was trying to run block. Mongo no like this, so Mongo clubbed Zettel in the head and it was on. Both teams ran into the scrum, there was shoving and tugging and barking for a few seconds and it was eventually broken up.
What a rush: In pass rush drills, the best pressure came on a stunt with Bruce Irvin and Maurice Hurst against Frank Ragnow and Taylor Decker with Hurst getting the sack. PJ Hall had a would-be sack in team sessions as did Marquel Lee who was freed up for a run around the right edge thanks to push inside from Tank Carradine #Teamwork.
Day off tomorrow. Preseason up next on Friday.