By Steve Corkran
Friday, July 26th, 2013 at 3:06 pm in Oakland Raiders.
NAPA — The Raiders kicked off the training camp portion of their season Friday, with coach Dennis Allen and his players thrilled to be back in action and one day closer to the regular-season opener.
The players aren’t in full pads yet, so it’s difficult to glean much from the proceedings. However, Allen said that he is satisfied by what he saw from his players in their first practice since mid-June.
“For the first practice, I was pleased with what we were able to get done today,” Allen said. “Obviously, it’s the first step in a long journey, and we’ve got a lot of progress that we’ve got to make and we got a short time to get it done. Guys are working extremely hard to get that done.”
The pads go on Sunday, at which time the intensity will rise and the play more spirited. You can expect to see veteran defensive back Charles Woodson right in the thick of things, even if he is in his 16th season.
“They’re going to have to pull me off the field at times because I love being out there,” Woodson said. “This is a new defense for me, new calls. I want to be out there getting the calls and the communication down anyway. I’m going to work hard. I feel like there’s nobody who will outwork me.”
That’s the kind of talk Allen likes to hear, and it’s coming from the type of player that Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie want up and down their roster.
How it translates, time will tell. Allen admitted that “all of us have a long way to go.”
– Second-round draft pick Menelik Watson, second-year linebacker Miles Burris and veteran defensive tackle Pat Sims didn’t take part in practice Friday.
Watson and Burris worked with team trainers off to the side, while their teammates went through their paces on two adjacent fields.
Watson is on the non-football-injury list. Sims is on the physically unable to perform list. Coach Dennis Allen said he isn’t sure when either player will be cleared to practice with the team. Allen said both players suffered injuries recently, though he refused to go into detail.
As for Burris, he’s still recovering from offseason knee surgery. He is on the physically unable to perform list.
– Quarterback Terrelle Pryor had a pass intercepted by cornerback Michael Jenkins early in practice. He then rebounded with several well-placed passes, including a deep throw to wide receiver Rod Streater, who made an impressive leaping grab near the goal line despite tight coverage by cornerback Tracy Porter.
– Presumptive starting quarterback Matt Flynn looked sharp Friday, particularly during the 7-on-7 portion of drills.
Time and again, Flynn delivered the ball right on target, be it on short throws, medium routes, crossing routes, whatever. He completed all but one pass during three sessions.
– Rookie quarterback Tyler Wilson’s first training camp practice is one he would rather forget. At one point, he was intercepted three times in a four-pass span.
In Wilson’s defense, safety Cory Nelms made a spectacular play on a well-thrown pass for receiver Conner Vernon down the left sideline. Nelms arrived at the last second, leaped and snared the ball just before Vernon could get his hands on the ball.
Cornerback Joselio Hanson and safety Reggie Smith also registered interceptions. In other drills, Wilson made a handful of nice throws and showed nice zip on his passes.
– Joshua Cribbs practiced as a member of the Raiders for the first time since he signed a contract earlier this year. He still was recovering from a knee injury when he joined the Raiders.
Cribbs ran routes at wide receiver, fielded punts and everything else asked of him throughout the day.
– Second-year player Lucas Nix got the first call at left guard with the first-team offense. Fellow second-year player Tony Bergstrom has been splitting time with Nix at the position as they battle to see who is going to replace Cooper Carlisle.
Jared Veldheer, Stefen Wisniewski, Mike Brisiel and Khalif Barnes manned the four other offensive line spots, from left to right. At one point, Alex Barron replaced Barnes.
– Kaluka Maiava was at the weak-side linebacker spot from the outset. Kevin Burnett also received some reps at that spot. It will be interesting to see how that position shakes out once Burris returns.
Nick Roach was with the first-team defense in the middle, with Sio Moore at the strong-side linebacker spot.
– Receiver Sam McGuffie, an undrafted rookie, also had a rough first day of camp. He dripped two catchable passes during one drill, then collided with safety Chance Casey while attempting to catch a pass on another play.
– Porter is wearing No. 31 after now that veteran safety Charles Woodson received No. 24.
Porter was assigned No. 24 when he signed with the Raiders. Once Woodson arrived, he pushed for the number he wore during his first stint with the Raiders.
At some point, the number was “taken” away from Porter, he said. Woodson said Friday that the fans deserve the credit.
“It was a big deal,” Woodson said. “I got the jersey back in large part because of the fans. A big thank you to the fans for that.”
– Speaking of Woodson, he said he is confident in rookie D.J. Hayden being a successful cornerback in the NFL because of Hayden’s footwork.
Woodson also heard what he was hoping to hear from Hayden during a lengthy conversation with Hayden during the offseason.
“I just asked him if he loved football,” Woodson said. “He said that he did. Really, for a young guy, that’s what you’re looking for, just a guy that loves football. We’re all going to make a lot of money once you get into this league. But what happens after you get the money. Do you still love to play the game? That’s the one thing I got from him, he loves football.”
– Today’s practice marked the first of attended by season-ticketholders. The Raiders granted all season-ticketholders a chance to sign up for the rights to tickets to one practice.
– General manager Reggie McKenzie spoke with a handful of media while Woodson spoke at the podium. Colleague Monte Poole was there for the entire McKenzie session, therefore I won’t steal his thunder in advance of his Sunday column.
However, I will pass along that McKenzie says the Raiders aren’t “too far away” from being a really good team and that he wants to see “good football” this year, first and foremost.