There were still plenty of players missing from Raiders practice Thursday afternoon, but coach Dennis Allen for the first time speculated about the potential return of some of them.
Until Thursday, the only player who Allen conceded would be out awhile is Kaluka Maiava, who was seen on crutches and in a walking boot. Following practice, Allen named three players he thought would practice Friday _ wide receiver Jacoby Ford, left guard Lucas Nix and defensive tackle Stacy McGee.
The Raiders still are not releasing information on what the injuries are. Nix appeared to injure his left knee in practice Monday and was wearing a compression sleeve on his left leg.
Nix opened camp as the starter at left guard, but had given way to Tony Bergstrom the day he was injured. Allen said the two could continue to go back and forth but noted, “I think Tony’s responded. I think he’s answered the bell, and he understands the challenge that’s been set before him. We’ll continue to work and see where it’s out. I don’t think anybody has clearly definitely [separated] themselves for that position yet. We’re going to let it play out until it does.”
– Here’s how Allen assessed the injuries to defensive tackle Pat Sims and offensive tackle Menelik Watson that have kept them out of training camp when asked if their injuries were serious:
“Well, when you say serious, nothing’s going to keep them out for a long period of time. They’re dealing with nagging little injuries. I’m hopeful that we’re going to get both of them back here pretty soon, but nothing season-threatening or anything like that.”
Watson’s absence will make it more difficult for him to mount a challenge for the spot at right tackle currently manned by Khalif Barnes.
“Anytime you’re a rookie and you’re not able to get out here and compete and learn – especially a guy like him that hasn’t played a lot of football – he needs all the reps he can get,” Allen said. “With that being said, he’s working extremely hard to get back out here. Injuries are part of the game. There’s nothing we can do about it other than try to do everything we can to get him rehabbed as fast as possible.”
– Allen essentially ruled out the possibility that center Stefen Wisniewski would switch to guard.
“He is our starting center, he’s done a nice job there,’’ Allen said.
With Alex Parsons out with injury and his left leg in a boot, Andre Gurode worked as the second-team center.
– Tight end Mychal Rivera had a big day in team drills and seven-on-seven sessions on a day where the Raiders played in shorts and shells and took a break after three straight days in pads.
– Former Raiders tackle Lincoln Kennedy was a guest at practice and afterward held an impromptu clinic with tackles Jared Veldheer, Barnes, Willie Smith and Alex Barron, at one point showing them how to lock the arm of a defender while avoiding getting called for holding.
– Cornerback Tracy Porter said he’s looking to switch numbers again before the regular season and said talks were ongoing with Charles Woodson about being compensated for switching from No. 24 to No. 31.
Porter joked that perhaps he could get a five percent in TwentyFour Wines, Woodson’s Napa Valley winery.
Porter still seemed mildly irked by the way the switch was handled. The fact that Porter was listed at No. 31 and Woodson at No. 24 in the Raiders media guide means they club knew about the switch long before he did. At the same time, Porter said, “It’s not like I’m going to leave camp over it or anything.”
– Wide receiver Denarius Moore, who conceded earlier in the week he’d had a crisis of confidence last season, had a strong session Thursday, at one point going up despite tight coverage from Porter and Woodson for a catch from Matt Flynn near the goal line.
“I thought Denarius Moore made a great play down the boundary,” Allen said. “Those are types of plays we expect out of him. I think he’s responding to the challenge.”
– Cornerback Taiwan Jones made a nice defensive play by breaking up a slant pass intended for Andre Holmes, but his ticket to the roster remains his ability to cover kicks.
“It’s been a difficult transition for him, but when it comes down to the roster, he’s one of the best special teams players in this league,” Allen said.
– Allen is in no hurry to make the seemingly inevitable announcement that Flynn will be the Raiders starting quarterback.
“We’ll have a quarterback ready to go, I promise you, when the season starts,” Allen said.
– While teams weren’t exactly clamoring to sign cornerbacks Michael Jenkins or Porter, their presence has made a dramatic upgrade in the position from a year ago, when Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer were injuries waiting to happen and weren’t enjoying nearly the success as the men who replaced them.