It’s a week into training camp and every day looks much like the previous ones. That can be good, in some respects, of course. Given coach Dennis Allen has been pleased with every practice so far, he no doubt doesn’t mind the practices resembling each other.
Yet, at some point, there’s going to come a time when some drastic changes are made, be it in personnel additions/subtractions or lineup moves.
For now, it’s pretty much status quo as far as the Raiders go with the way they look a little more than a week before their exhibition opener against the Dallas Cowboys.
For instance, the offensive line has remained the same throughout the offseason — with the exception of center Stefen Wisniewski missing all of them while recovering from a shoulder surgery — and the first week of training camp.
Allen said he and his staff are content with the players they are using with the first-team offense and defense. The way challengers perform in practice and games will dictate whether changes are made.
“The evaluation process takes time,” Allen said. “I’m not going to set a timetable as to when we work guys in. Whenever we, as a staff, sit down and think we’ve seen enough to warrant somebody stepping in and getting some of those reps, then we’ll make those adjustments.”
Rookie guard Tony Bergstrom said he understands not getting any reps with the first-team offense. In fact, he said he agrees with the way Allen is doling out playing time.
“I can’t assume the coach is going to take away reps from a veteran guy to give me reps,” Bergstrom said. “I’m hoping that, by the time the season comes around, I’ll be at that ability to where he could feel comfortable plugging me in there. So, I couldn’t tell you a time frame or even say that coach would do that. There’s veteran guys there that need the reps and need the looks. I’m just trying to learn from them as much as I can.”
It’s likely that Allen and his staff will re-evaluate after the Raiders play the Cowboys on Aug. 13. Yet, the deeper the Raiders go into camp without making any changes, the more likely it becomes that the players you see starting the first one or two exhibition games will be the ones who start against the San Diego Chargers on Sept. 10.
— Wide receiver Eddie McGee (hamstring) joined the short list of players unable to practice. He tweaked his hamstring during practice Friday and was held out today.
Fellow receiver Denarius Moore (hamstring) participated in the start of practice, but he was removed early on as a precautionary measure.
Allen said tight end Richard Gordon now has a lower leg infection, to go with the hip he injured earlier this week. Allen said the infection is of greater concern than the hip right now.
As for defensive tackle Travis Ivey, Allen said he is holding out Ivey because the big man isn’t in good enough shape to pracrtice without risk of injury.
“It’s a safety issue as much as it is anything else,” Allen said. “I want to make sure that he’s healthy, in shape, conditioned, his weight is where it needs to be, so that if and when he does get out here and start practicing, that he doesn’t injure himself.”
Ivey declined to comment.
It’s difficult to imagine how Ivey had the whole offseason to get himself into shape, yet failed to do so by the time the Raiders reported to training camp.
It’s also difficult to envision Ivey being a real force unless he meets the requirements on him and gets in some practice time before long.
— Allen said he was pleased with the way practice went today. He isn’t just saying what he thinks people want to hear.
“They would know,” Allen said, when asked if he would let his players know when practice isn’t meeting his expectations.
As for the media and fans, Allen said, “I believe you would (know, too).”
— Cornerback Shawntae Spencer has been outperformed by second-year cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke, among others, in camp so far.
That’s not what the Raiders expected when they signed Spencer in the offseason and inserted him into the starting lineup opposite Ron Bartell. Yet, Allen said he isn’t too concerned right now.
“He’s been a little up and down in camp,” Allen said. “We’re going to continue to push him and see where he’s at. I’m not pushing the panic button on him yet. Obviously, with all these guys, we want to continue to see some improvement.”
On Saturday, Spencer made a nice play on a ball at one point. Another time, he got beat by receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey on a deep route, though Heyward-Bey dropped the ball.
— People make a big deal out of whether the offense or defense got the better of it in practice each day. Allen says the two sides are trading blows on a regular basis, without either one holding a commanding overall lead.
“I don’t think any of these practices have been totally dominated by one side of the ball or the other,” Allen said, “and that’s a good thing because, for us to be successful, we’re going to have to be a balanced team and we’re going to have to play well offensively, defensively and in the kicking game.”
— Backup running back Mike Goodson received plenty of love from the 1,000 or so fans in attendance Saturday. They seemed quite impressed by Goodson’s ability to hit the hole, turn the corner and use his speed to get downfield in a hurry.
Allen, too, is impressed by what he sees from Goodson, he said.
“He’s picked up the offense pretty good, which I’ve been impressed with,” Allen said. “Just what he’s able to do in open space, from an athletic standpoint, gives us a chance to exploit some things with him.”
Allen added that Goodson is a much better blocker than he expected when the Raiders traded for Goodson in the offseason.
Goodson said he enjoys playing in front of the fans here and that he is thrilled to be with the Raiders, especially in offensive coordinator Greg Knapp’s offense.
“I love it, man, I love it,” Goodson said. “How could you not? You get the ball and you just run. The holes are huge, so how could you not want to get in there and show it?”
Goodson said that there’s room in this offense for him, Darren McFadden and Taiwan Jones because of their different skill-sets.
“We’re all kind of unique,” Goodson said. “I like to catch the ball out of the backfield a lot. Darren, man, he’s just an athlete. He can catch the ball, he can run between the tackles, he can do it all. Everybody brings their own unique thing to the game.”
Goodson also is working with all the special teams, as he did when he was with the Carolina Panthers. He even has added personal protector on punts to his vast repertoire.
— Moore suffered a hamstring injury during at Oakland’s final mini camp in Alameda in mid-June. He said he recovered from that injury and reported to camp at full strength.
Lo and behold, the hamstring is bothering him again. He is doing the best he can to play through the pain but there comes a time when he has to be smart about his injury and take into account the bigger picture: the entire season.
“Yeah, it’s a little frustrating coming in, knowing that you have an injury, have to sit out and wait and watch your teammates constantly practice, going through it and grinding, and you just sit on the side,” Moore said. “But it’s something that you can’t control, you’ve got to sit back and just let it heal on its own.”
— Former Raiders offensive lineman Robert Gallery retired Saturday after a brief stint with the New England Patriots.
Thus ends a career that began with Gallery entering the NFL as the No. 2 pick of the draft in 2004. He started his career at left offensive tackle but finished it at left guard.
Sure, Gallery didn’t develop into the lock-down tackle that many of the so-called experts projected when he came out of Iowa. However, he carved out a decent career as a dependable lineman who represented the Raiders well and earned plenty of respect from his coaches and teammates.
— Zachary Koehn, 9, a fourth-grader in Sebastopol, spent the day getting the royal treatmen at training camp as part of the NFL Play 60 Super Kid contest.
Koehn will an article about his day at Raiders training camp. It will be posted on the Raiders section on NFLRUSH.com — http://www.nflrush.com/teams/OAK/?icampaign=rush_nav_team