The temperature soared in Napa on Tuesday, which the players no doubt detested. However, the hot weather was just fine with coach Dennis Allen, always mindful of the big picture.
After all, the Raiders play in Miami in mid-September, so days like today are good preparation for what lies ahead.
“All these things are challenges,” Allen said. “You speak about mental toughness, that’s part of the deal in being able to fight through the distractions of the heat or whatever the case may be. Having these guys have to push through some of this heat is good. We’re going to have to play in pretty hot conditions down in Miami the second game of the year, so we have to be ready for it.”
— Rookie defensive end Jack Crawford suffered a foot injury during practice and missed the latter part of the proceedings.
Crawford joined punter Shane Lechler (knee), defensive tackle Richard Seymour (knee), wide receivers Denarius Moore (hamstring) and Eddie McGee (hamstring), running back Taiwan Jones (hamstring) and linebacker Aaron Curry (knee) on the sideline.
Allen said he isn’t sure how bad Crawford’s foot injury is just yet. Crawford walked without crutches or anything on his feet after practice, which bodes well for a speedy recovery.
— A little while before running back Mike Goodson suffered a neck injury, Goodson showed his fiestiness on a play in which cornerback Brandon Underwood shoved him out of bounds.
Goodson took exception to the late hit, charged after Underwood and delivered a two-handed shove under Underwood’s chin. Teammates prevented the dust-up from escalating.
Such flare-ups tend to occur in training camp, especially as the days wear on and the heat temperatures soar.
“Obviously, as you get later into training camp and you start seeing some of the heat, people get a little more irritable,” Allen said. “They get a little more on edge and things begin to bother people a little bit more, coaches and players.”
— Every coach approaches exhibition games from a different vantage point. Given this is Allen’s first season as an NFL head coach, it remains to be seen how he doles out playing time.
Not even Allen is sure just yet, with Oakland’s first game Monday against the Dallas Cowboys.
“We’ve put a little bit of thought into it,” Allen said, “but I haven’t sat down with the staff yet. So, I’m going to refrain comment on that right now. We’ll sit down as a staff over the next couple of days and kind of get a good plan for how we’re going to use these guys.”
Standard practice is for coaches to play their projected starters about one quarter or so in the first exhibiton game, with the playing time increasing through the third game and no action at all in the final game.
— Allen said that offensive coordinator Greg Knapp and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver will spend their time on the sideline for games. Some coaches prefer one or both coordinators coach from press box, high above the field.
— Ever wonder what happened to offensive coordinator Al Saunders? Well, he isn’t hard to find if you spend any time watching a Raiders practice.
He’s the one guarding the tight end on a goal line pass or the one running up to a player at the end of a play to impart some wisdom or dole out encouragement.
In other words, he’s all over the place and helping out in any way needed.
“Well, he’s helped all of us,” Allen said. “A guy with that type of experience helps all of us. He’s been a head coach in the league before. So I’ve leaned on him for advice on certain things. Obviously, he’s a great source for Greg in the passing game, especially with our offense.
“And he does a great job working with Mark Hudson with the tight ends on a day-to-day basis. I’m really pleased with Al. He’s a very important part of our coaching staff and a very important part of our organization.”
Saunders was reassigned after last season, with his new title being senior offensive assistant.
— Quarterback Carson Palmer confirmed earlier reports that he recommended veteran wide receiver to Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Palmer’s coach at Southern Cal.
“He was looking for a job anywhere,” Palmer said, when asked if Owens wanted to play for the Raiders. “I know he’s worked extremely hard to come back from the injuries he’s had. And he was looking for a spot anywhere he could go.”
Palmer said Carroll “reached out” to him a couple of times, and Palmer spoke highly of Owens based on their one season together with the Cincinnati Bengals and offseason get-togethers in Southern California.
— Add Palmer to the growing list of people impressed by the play of cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke so far in camp.
“He’s looked really good,” Palmer said. “He’s made a lot of really good plays because he can turn and run and he can also jump on balls and break. He’s so athletic and so fast, once he does have to open up and turn and run he’s really looked good in camp and just got to keep grinding. We’re going to keep trying to pick on him and keep working against him. But he’s looked really good so far.”