Assist. Defensive coach Rod Woodson drilling #52 LB Khalil Mack
(picture courtesy of Raiderlegend)
My Oakland Raiders training camp visit can be summed up in one word; HOT!
On one of the hottest days of this bay area summer, I went up to Napa, Ca. for a look-see of our beloved Raiders. What I saw was a team with respect to all the drills, an eagerness to pay attention and learn and just an all around no-nonsense approach to buying into head coach Jack Del Rio's system.
I saw young players trying desperately to make an impact and veterans showing the hustle that is needed in Live game action. Sebastian Janikowski, believed to be the oldest Raiders veteran, kicked a field goal through the uprights and into the camera-man cage high up above the end zone. Punter Marquette King was looking loose as he boomed punts high and far. He was followed by punter Steven Clark who held his own against King, but later seemed to wilt in the heat and shank one or two punts. A fan reminded Clark he needed to lose the #2 jersey (J. Russell reference).
Didn't see lil' 5'5 speedster Trindon Holliday return any kicks or punts. Up close Holliday really looks small around the other players. But I suppose he must be the fastest man on the field.
As with past camp visits, you don't see much from the defense other than their hustle and camaraderie. Just being out in that heat doing drills without complaint seemed to be an accomplishment. The whole training camp setup was run with speed and discipline.
Though I felt much of what I saw on the practice field was designed to impress the visiting fans, the fact that everything was being executed to such perfection convinced me that this is definitely an improved team.
It's true, defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. is the loudest, smack talking voice booming out on the field. Quarterback Derek Carr was pinpoint accurate. Many wide receivers had chances to shine; Amarie Cooper, M. Crabtree. I was impressed with Seth Roberts and Brice Butler catching balls. TE Lee Smith has good hands. WR Rod Streater was on hand and got a good workout. I still like my guy from Penn QB Matt McGloin.
Running Back Latavius Murray is the real deal. Up close he's as big, fast and elusive as on film. Michael Dyer showed much hustle at RB and George Atkinson III was out there doing his thing, finding the endzone.
My visit compared to last season was much hotter weather, but the price of what I saw on the field was worth every sweaty moment. The Oakland Raiders look like a professional NFL team ready to play competitive football at the drop of a hat. They look as if they've been practicing together for more than just an off season. Credit the coaching staff for having the attention and respect of the players.
It's gonna be one heck of a Silver & Black season!
Friday Pre-Season Opener