FIGHT!!! That was the excitement in the second day of Raiders scrimmages with the Rams. Things usually get heated in the second day of these heat-to-heads. The first fight came in pass protection drills. Aaron Donald lined up across from Gabe Jackson and the two locked up like bucks or... Rams as it were. Afterward they both continued to hold onto each others jersey and jaw with each other. Then the shoving started and the teams converged.
At first it seemed like it would dissipate quickly, but Donald kept talking and trying to get at Raiders linemen. Rodney Hudson wasn’t having it and came at Donald and the teams converged again and the scrum moved around before it was eventually broken up by coaches.
“It’s football. It’s just practice,” said Donald. “It’s how the emotions [are] some days. A little bit of pushing and shoving ain’t never hurt nobody. We’re just getting after it.”
That ended that drill and the teams moved to team sessions, where, once again, Donald was lined up across from Jackson. Once again they locked up and after the play, Donald gave Jackson a little shove, Jackson responded with a little shove of his own, they got in each others faces again and that was it, they moved on.
Five minutes later, the two teams erupted in an even bigger fight than the first one. This one saw rookie tackle Tyler Roemer’s helmet come off and he was punched in the head several times without his helmet.
Overall this scrap was much more animated and eventually Rams coach Sean McVay came out and yanked his players over to the huddle and told them basically to knock it off.
“I did run over. You kind of hear the skirmish and then you come over,” said McVay. “It was really already under control by the time I got over there. What was pretty cool is when you hear the way that the players amongst themselves were communicating and gathering themselves. And we talk about that ownership all the time and our leaders did a great job of getting everybody under control and we used that as a learning [opportunity].”
Not five minutes later and Gabe Jackson got rolled up on and was carted off the field, unable to put weight on one of his legs and eventually had to be carted off the field.
The rest of the day was more chill. There was the usual bit of talking going on from guys like Marcus Peters, but no more fights. I think two is plenty. Maybe not for Hard Knocks, but for the coaches, it’s two too many.
These fights, should they get to be too much, can cause the two teams to decide to put an end to the scrimmage. But luckily that didn’t need to happen.
“You see when things get chippy early on, sometimes you end up having to cancel those practices,” McVay said. “We definitely didn’t want to lose that practice opportunity and to the players’ credit we didn’t.”
Catch of the day
The scrimmage began much better for Derek Carr and the Raiders’ offense than it did yesterday. He began yesterday with an interception by Aqib Talib on a deep attempt for Tyrell Williams. Today, his first downfield throw was for Marcell Ateman who bobbled the ball but secured it in the back of the end zone for the 20-yard score.
Later in the day, JJ Nelson got behind his man deep and Carr aired it out. Nelson is fast and he needed all of his speed to catch up to it. He caught it in stride for the touchdown from about 50 yards out.
For my tastes, the best catch of the day was Hunter Renfrow shielding off his defender and climbing the ladder in the back right corner of the end zone for a touchdown from Derek Carr from 20 yards out. That isn’t a play that seemed like it was in Renfrow’s toolbox, which was all the more impressive.
Defensive play of the day
We have another pick. This time it was undrafted rookie linebacker Koa Farmer who read a Blake Bortles pass over the middle and reached out to pick it clean.
Lapse in protection plan
You don’t usually notice offensive linemen much unless they make a mistake. That being said, I noticed the left side of the Raiders first team offensive line a few times today. We already talked about Aaron Donald causing a ruckus when he faced Gabe Jackson. Meanwhile, ironically, when he faced Richie Incognito there was no such issues. Perhaps that would have been a good thing though?
In pass protection drills, Incognito got dusted by Donald who ripped right by him to get into the backfield. Come team sessions, Donald put a spin move on Incognito that got him off balance and then he bull rushed him into Derek Carr who put his arm out to try and shield himself from the two battling linemen collapsing his pocket.
Next to Incognito is Kolton Miller. Twice Miller got beat and both times it was on an inside move. First it was Clay Mathews and then it was Dante Fowler Jr. If that’s the book on Miller, he might want to get on fixing that. The last thing Derek Carr needs is speed rusher shooting up the gut into his face.
With the injury to Gabe Jackson, the team put Denver Kirkland out there at right guard with the first team. Kirkland got beat on the rush by Michael Brockers on one play and a couple plays later, he just let two rushers go free up the middle while he blocked air and they smothered Carr. Get well soon, Gabe. This line needs you.
The Raiders got pretty beat up on the first day of scrimmage. They had a whole host of players not practicing today. Newly missing were tight end Luke Willson, wide receiver Ryan Grant, defensive tackle PJ Hall, and linebadker Kyle Wilber. Gruden said Grant was kicked and suffered a back contusion and Wilber also has a sore back. Nicholas Morrow wasn’t out there either because he had a dental appointment for a tooth ache.
Still not practice were WR Antonio Brown (feet), DT Gabe Wright (knee), DT Eddie Vanderdoes (concussion), PUP Denzelle Good (back), and NFI Keith Smith (knee).
The next time we see these Raiders will be in their first preseason game on Saturday. Gruden has made it fairly clear most of the starters will not dress. Though it’s possible we see some of the rookie starters, expect to see almost exclusively backups and roster hopefuls on Saturday for both teams.