It’s a short week for the Raiders. They are coming off their first preseason game on Saturday and will turn around and play the Cardinals on Thursday. Unlike during the regular season when they would try to cram in two or three practices, the Raiders took a day off Sunday, had just a walk-thru on Monday and went with the one practice Tuesday prior to their travel day tomorrow.
No veteran starters played in the first preseason game, but that could change when the team heads to Arizona.
“[W]e’re going to try to get a couple of starters some work in Arizona,” said Gruden. “We’re still in the process of thinking things through with the Canada trip.”
Derek Carr said he won’t know until tomorrow night.
“I don’t know. He never tells us until really like the night before, so we’ll see what he says,” Carr said of whether he will play. “He wants us always preparing as if we are playing, but I’m not sure.”
For being their only practice in pads, it was a relatively uneventful practice. There wasn’t even the usual large crowd of fans in the stands. Quite a departure from the packed scrimmages last week with the Rams in town. And halfway through the day, they stripped off the pads and went with just jerseys and helmets the rest of the day.
The biggest news happened prior to practice with the anticipation that Antonio Brown could make an appearance. He didn’t practice and wasn’t out there for most of the day, showing up near the end so he could speak to the media to give an update on his injury situation.
“It’s good to have him back,” said Derek Carr, who has only gotten to throw a handful of passes to his top receiver this camp. “Obviously, we are excited to have him and can’t wait for him to suit up and be out there with us, man.”
“Well, I think he’s here now, so we’ll be ready to go Week 1. We got a lot of time until then. Obviously short week this week, playing a game on Thursday, but with that said we have so much time to get some game plan plays down, some routes, certain cuts that we are going to have him run and all those kinds of things. We have plenty of time, so the fact that he is here is a good sign. It’s good for us.”
Gruden shares Carr’s certainty that Brown will be ready to go by the opener. The question is if he will again suit up and take the field before training camp concludes.
After the game on Thursday, the Raiders return to Napa for three more practices on August 17, 18, and 19 and that’s it. They pack up and head back to Alameda for the remainder of their prep for the season which kicks off on September 9.
Antonio Brown may be the most famous of the players missing from camp, but he’s certainly not the only one. Starting fullback Keith Smith has been on NFI all of camp. Denzelle Good — who would be starting at guard the first two weeks of the season — is on the PUP list and will probably remain there to begin the season. Eddie Vanderdoes suffered a concussion on the second day of camp and has never returned. At this point you have to wonder if his Raiders career could be over. Gabe Wright has also been out most of camp. He has been working on the side hoping to return soon.
Gabe Jackson suffered an injury to his MCL in the final scrimmage practices that will keep him out at least a month into the season. Stepping in with the first team at right guard was veteran Jordan Devey. He has been the primary backup center all camp, but has a lot of experience at right guard as well in his five-year NFL career.
Practice started without another player as well — Johnny Townsend. Last year’s 5th round pick was waived this morning after getting thoroughly beaten both in camp and in the team’s first preseason game by undrafted rookie AJ Cole.
Catch of the day
Tyrell Williams continues to perform like the number one receiver the Raiders wanted him to be during Antonio Brown’s absence. At one point, Williams went up the right sideline and had Daryl Worley with perfect position between him and Derek Carr. Carr threw the pass and Worley looked like he had a sure pick, but Williams just leapt in the air and took the ball away from him. Can’t teach that and there was nothing Worley could have done better than he did.
Defensive play of the day
Again it was Derek Carr dropping back. He turned to his right to throw into the flat, but Devin Lawson came up to bat it into the air, then chased down the ball and intercept it with nothing but open field to the end zone.
Johnny Townsend’s release was the big one. But not the only one. The team also waived Hamp Cheevers who they had claimed off waivers just yesterday. They instead brought back Markinton Dorleant, who was on the practice squad last season and spent the offseason with the team. They also added free agent Josh Holsey.
PJ Hall was back at practice after missing time last week and the preseason game on Saturday. Luke Willson was also back.
Newly out was Maxx Crosby, Isaiah Johnson, and Dylan Mabin, all of whom were injured in Saturday’s preseason opener. Johnson suffered a concussion while Crosby suffered a broken hand. He had a cast on his hand/forearm and was working on the side. Mabin’s injury is not known.
Still missing were G Gabe Jackson (knee), WR Antonio Brown (feet), LB Kyle Wilber (back), DT Gabe Wright (knee), DT Eddie Vanderdoes (concussion), PUP G Denzelle Good (back), and NFI FB Keith Smith (knee).
Correction: Keith Smith was at practice today, coming off NFI. He had been out all of camp with a knee injury.