— Jimmy Durkin (@Jimmy_Durkin) July 28, 2016
NAPA — The Raiders want to be known as one of the better teams in the league.
With they reported for training camp Thursday at the Napa Valley Marriott, they at least confirmed to be among the most colorful.
Marquette King was the leader in that department. The fifth-year punter strolled into camp on Thursday rocking a full-face green Power Rangers mask, causing even star pass rusher Khalil Mack to crack up. Mack quickly whipped out his phone to capture the moment on Snapchat.
A few minutes later, new cornerback Sean Smith backed his large SUV up and checked himself in while wearing a hat with large gold letters spelling out his last name. He also rocked a pair of Superman chains around his neck.
There’s some hype around this team and that helped add flavor to a normally monotonous day as the remainder of the roster checked into camp ahead of Friday’s first full-team workout. Rookies, quarterbacks and players who missed time to injury have been in Napa since Sunday.
The players aren’t immune to all the hype and praise that’s been heaped on this Raiders team and don’t exactly plan to ignore all of it.
“If you’re going to take it in, you’ve definitely got to know how to channel it,” running back Latavius Murray said. “We know we have a long way to go, but we know what we’re capable of. We know the guys we have in the building. But again that doesn’t mean nothing if we’re not able to go out there and put it on the field.”
Safety Reggie Nelson, like Smith part of Oakland’s impressive free agent crop, isn’t burdened by the Raiders’ 13 straight non-winning seasons and doesn’t think anybody on the team should be either.
“You can’t worry about all the last years,” Nelson said. “You’ve got to worry about right now. That’s the beginning. That’s why we’re here for camp, to start from scratch.”
This was Nelson first in-person appearance since signing his two-year deal with the Raiders. He spoke to the media only on a conference call after signing and didn’t participate in the offseason program with an injury that he remained vague about Thursday. The 10-year veteran doesn’t expect the time he missed to hinder him.
“I kind of know what to expect,” Nelson said. “It’s 10 years. I don’t think too much is going to change with camp and everything. I know what to do and the mindset of getting that job done so I don’t think it set me back. I was just dealing with some issues and I’m good.”
Nelson also insisted that he’s “been 100 percent, you just haven’t seen me” but also wouldn’t commit to practicing when the Raiders hit the field.
“When coach says that he wants me full go, then that’s when it’ll happen,” Nelson said.
The rest of the day was filled with chatter of players proclaiming their excitement for the start of camp. Backup running back and special teams ace Taiwan Jones even tried to convince reporters that “this is the best part of the season,” a joke that drew only delayed chuckles.
Murray was more convincing.
“I have dreams about football every day,” he said. “I wake up, might jump in my sleep, whether it’s a guy I made miss or a guy that hit me. You have to eat, sleep and think football and I do.”
That’s what the Raiders will do over their next two and a half weeks in Napa, preparing for what, as Murray said, the Raiders “hope to be a real long season.”
n Denico Autry was among the Raiders who missed the offseason program and Thursday offered some clarity as to why. He reported for camp with a brace on his right hand/wrist.