The Raiders made it through their longest sustained training camp session of full contact in recent memory unscathed Thursday morning, although there was at least slight scare when Robert Gallery fell awkwardly in a pile, only to arise and proclaim himself OK.
Coach Tom Cable said Wednesday there would be some to-the-ground tackling in the near future, and it arrived the next morning when he announced, “I don’t want any cut blocks but this is a live period.’’
What followed was about a dozen plays, mostly runs, with the rare sight of ballcarriers being brought to the ground as if in a game.
There were no big gains until the second-to-last snap, when Michael Bennett broke free on the left and ran right through an attempted tackle of Joey Thomas.
Darren McFadden and Michael Bush had some inside carries, none gaining more than five yards.
Afterward, it sounded as if the tackling will be a sporadic occurrence, rather than a regular one.
“We’ll probably have a little more tackling somewhere along the line before we go to Dallas,’’ Cable said.
Cable didn’t think the tacklers or ballcarriers looked all that crisp.
“It looked like the first time we had been tackled or tackled anybody, but that’s why we’re doing it because it’s obviously been since last January when we tackled anybody, so we’ve got worked to do,’’ Cable said.
McFadden said the full-on contact changes the way a practice feels.
“You go through one drill live and it’s like the whole practice because it’s something that you’re not used to,’’ McFadden said. “But everybody made it through healthy for the most part. A few guys got dinged up, but I think they’re going to be all right.”
Defensive end Jay Richardson saw value in the contact.
“It’s important to build those good habits and do live drills so you don’t get in th game and pull up because it’s all repetition and mechanics,’’ Richardson said. “You’ve got to have some live time, plus you’ve got to have fun, too. It gets the guys a little juiced up to get a chance to get out there and hit.’’
More news and notes following Thursday’s morning session:
– The Raiders injury list has grown, but aside from a possibly serious ankle injury to wide receiver Jonathan Holland, nothing seems overly serious.
Holland left the field house on a cart and was headed for X-rays after falling during a seven-on-seven drill.
Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey, who Cable said didn’t practice Wednesday because he was being rested, sat out this time because he was “still sore,’’ according to the coach.
Heyward-Bey acknowledged taking a Michael Huff helmet to the shoulder Tuesday but doesn’t consider it a serious issue.
Wide receiver Louis Murphy, who had his foot stepped on by Stanford Routt Wednesday in his first day back after a concussion, said his foot was swollen the previous night but thought he would be back on the field soon.
Those who didn’t finish practice (or didn’t practice at all) were wide receiver Jacoby Ford (quad), wide receiver Paul Hubbard (hamstring), fullback Luke Lawton (headache), fullback Marcel Reece (foot), fullback Manase Tonga (knee), defensive tackle Richard Seymour (rest), cornerback Jeremy Ware (heel) and quarterback Charlie Frye (wrist).
– With the dearth of fullbacks, Alex Daniels, the undrafted free agent defensive end who is taking some snaps in the backfield, got some work in the live contact scrimmage.
He went after linebacker Trevor Scott so enthusiastically on one block that Scott warned him to “chill.’’
– The day after Cable talked about limiting pre-snap penalties, an eight-man officiating crew arrived at the Napa Marriott. On the first play with officials, Matt Shaughnessy drew a flag for lining up in the neutral zone.
Cable counted six flags on the day, although it didn’t seem like that many.
“That’s still too many. You would like to dial this thing in where you’re so disciplined and so good before the ball is snapped on offense, and defensively have the discipline to cover with your feet,’’ Cable said.
– Nick Miller, the diminutive wideout from Southern Oregon who made the 53-man roster last year as an undrafted free agent and then was deactivated for 15 weeks because of a broken tibia, is starting to look like he did a year ago.
Miller made one terrific downfield grab during Wednesday night’s session and is in the mix competing for a spot as a return specialist on either kickoffs or punts with Jacoby Ford, Johnnie Lee Higgins and Yamon Figurs.
“Nick has kind of picked up where he left off last year before he got hurt,’’ Cable said. “He’s a very quick, sudden guy that is hard to get on the ground. He’s very good in and out of cuts and catches it pretty well. We know, or we think we know, he can be a decent return guy. So let’s just keep him healthy and we’ll get a chance to see more of him as we go.’’
Miller could be forgiven for having moments where he obsessed over losing his shot last year, but said he did his best to put those feelings aside.
“You don’t want to let yourself fall back into that like, ‘That was my chance,’ because I always feel like there’s always another opportunity, and I’m still here and I’m still fighting to earn a spot,’’ Miller said. “I feel they still have me here for a reason, and I’m here to prove myself still.”
—Oakland’s goal of utilizing Zach Miller (7 career TDs in 166 catches) in the red zone was working beautifully Thursday. He caught four touchdown passes.
— Chris Mortensen, the ESPN reporter called a “professional liar’’ by Al Davis, was at practice on his training camp tour, talking with cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and quarterback Jason Campbell with zero interference from the club.