QB Bruce Gradkowski should see plenty of action as he makes his 2010 preseason debut this Saturday vs. San Francisco. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Oakland Raiders participated in their penultimate practice of Training Camp 2010 with temperatures reaching 95 degrees in Napa, Calif. The team had a high-energy practice despite nearing the end of a grueling month of two-a-days, meetings, workouts, and studying. With the last practice taking place tomorrow morning, players are eager to finally return home and get into the regular season.
"We're excited to break camp," said QB Bruce Gradkowski. "We've put in a lot of good work over these last four or five weeks, but we're excited to get the season rolling and get in that mindset that the season is coming up."
DT Kellen Heard enjoyed training camp, new experience for the rookie out of Memphis. "It flew by actually. It's an experience I had never experienced since I'm a rookie and I know a lot of people more personally," said Heard. "It was a great experience - the best experience of my life."
Second-year LB David Nixon is looking forward to camp ending tomorrow. "It's been a great camp, but it's been a long camp," said Nixon. "I think we've accomplished quite a bit, but it'll be nice to get back to Oakland, get back to our own beds and get back to the facility there and keep what we've accomplished here going."
With the team headed back to Alameda, players have to retain their focus as they leave the environment in which they are surrounded by their teammates 24/7. "It's good to switch it up a little bit," said Nixon. "I think we can all leave here with a good feeling that we accomplished quite a bit and we've had some great practices here and I think everyone is just excited to get back and keep the ball rolling."
The players hope to preserve the chemistry they have developed throughout training camp. "I just hope we keep this chemistry like this even when we go our separate ways in Alameda," said Heard.
"It's just awesome to see this team come together and really become a team and that's what's exciting," added Gradkowski. "That's what I love about it. We're becoming a football team, both sides of the football. I think [Head] Coach [Tom] Cable is really doing a good job of really bringing us together as a whole football team – offense, defense, special teams."
The development and confidence of the team is apparent with their success in the first two preseason games on the road. "I think we've just gained a lot of confidence," said Nixon. "I think there were a lot of unknowns coming into this camp with a lot of offseason acquisitions that we had. To see how everything played out, how the team really came together, and how all the players jelled has been awesome. When you see after our first two games we made a lot of progress and we hope to keep it rolling against San Francisco and keep it going from there. It's encouraging, definitely encouraging."
The Oakland Raiders complete Training Camp 2010 Thursday morning and will face the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.