Raiders 2019 training camp officially kicked off Friday in Napa. And from the first play on, it was apparent that there would be no easing into things. Derek Carr was testing his receivers and the defensive backs all day and had some great success doing so.
This wasn’t just to show off for the Hard Knocks cameras. There was a reason behind it. Just as Carr will look to do in each NFL game this season, he will need to keep the defense honest. If the corners try to jump routes, he must make them pay.
“Those are the hardest throws to get timing on, the deeper routes. Some guys don’t adjust to the ball as well. Some guys want the ball thrown a little bit different. Some guys just don’t care, that’s even harder,” said Carr. “The great thing about these guys is they communicate. They have time on task of proving what they do well. That makes it easier for me too when I watch film. Sometimes you don’t even need to ask them, they have so much time on film and doing it consistently, doing it every day at practice and in the games where you’re like, I know what they need. Being able to hit those early does two things. Most importantly it backs our DB’s up so they don’t cheat during training camp. Then secondly, it’s good for everyone to see the timing of those throws. Making sure I’m not taking too many hits. Just making sure the ball is out of my hand so the O-Line can do their thing. That will open up Coach Gruden for our little quick passing game that he loves, catch and run type of stuff. The deep ball and those things, people that stretch the field will open everything else up for those guys to work inside.”
This isn’t something he did much of last season. He wasn’t altogether comfortable running Gruden’s offense yet, but that wasn’t the only issue. He didn’t have much in the way of a deep threats and often times wouldn’t have had the time to get the ball to them due to protection issues.
Protection isn’t an issue in practice because he isn’t allowed to be hit anyway, but he does have an upgrade at receiver in terms of deep balls are concerned.
Even while Antonio Brown is out with an undisclosed injury, Carr has Tyrell Williams. The two connected on several deep balls both in 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills.
The chemistry between Carr and Williams is apparent. And Carr is loving having someone with the length and speed of Williams to throw to. At one point he took a short pass with Gareon Conley in close proximity, but Williams picked up speed quickly with his long strides and that Conley was unable to close the gap and Williams ran away from him for a good chunk of yardage.
It’s easy to say Carr has never had a player of Williams’ talent and skillset in his offense. And that skillset was on full display with Antonio Brown sidelined to start camp.
It was a great start for rookie receiver Hunter Renfrow. In one-on-ones he often was lined up with Lamarcus Joyner on him and he won most of those battles. He fought off a jam attempt by Joyner to make a catch and later made a catch on a dig route to come back for a pass. Joyner couldn’t get back to defend it. He made a couple short catches in team sessions as well, one with Karl Joseph defending.
There were over 100 Raiders alumni on hand for the day. A few familiar faces I noted included Jim Otto, Mike Haynes, Tom Flores, Mervyn Fernandez, Kirk Morrison, Barry Sims, and Justin Fargas. They will be here throughout the weekend “Alumni Weekend” which will take place over the first few days of Training Camp.
Among the festivities, many alumni will make their annual trip to the Veterans Home of California-Yountville. It’s a trip they have made each year for the past 20 years.
Catch of the day
Tough call here. Williams had a couple good deep catches. Rico Gafford hauled one in too, beating Conley for on a 55-yard bomb. But this honor probably goes to Darren Waller who got behind Erik Harris up the right sideline and hauled in a Carr pass for a deep score.
Defensive play of the day
Daryl Worley takes home this honor. Derek Carr went deep for Marcell Ateman up the left sideline and Worley ran it down to make a diving pass breakup. Worley also knocked down a pass over the middle for Ryan Grant.
Camp began with guard Denzelle Good (back) on PUP, Keith Smith (knee) and Antonio Brown (undisclosed) on NFI.