CB DeMarcus Van Dyke runs back an interception. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Raiders returned to the practice field after a day off Sunday, donning full pads and preparing for their first preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals this Thursday. The players must switch gears to prepare for the Cardinals' specific offense and defense.
Head Coach Hue Jackson and the coaching staff have been working diligently throughout the first two weeks of camp to prepare the team for game time. As the first match up approaches, Coach Jackson is easing his men into game mentality. "You kind of go out and do what you do, but also if it is a scheme adjustment for us we need to make sure that we understand that," said Coach Jackson. "I want to give our team the best opportunity to have success. We are not just walking out there to play - we are walking out there with a purpose. I want our guys to get used to when we step out on the field between the lines we are playing to win."
The players are changing their study habits in preparation for Arizona. "It's just a little extra film because when you're practicing against the Raiders you know what you're going to see in practice," said TE Kevin Brock. "Now I have to go in the film room and I have to look at the stuff on tape because obviously we're not playing for Arizona so I don't get a good look at it. So I take a little extra time doing film and that's pretty much it."
FB Marcel Reece also notes the change during meetings. "In the classroom, everything's scaled down," said Reece. "We scale everything down, keep it really vanilla for a lot of preseason games, and we just do basic things because in training camp it's overload of everything. Especially now through the lockout with no OTAs or minicamps, everything is overload and you get everything at one time and you just go through it. For right now, when it comes to the game, it's scaled down, focus on this and go out there and try to get a win because we're always trying to win. It's not for fun."
The Raiders are focusing on the Cardinals offensive and defensive schemes in order to be ready for Thursday's game. "It's shifting gears going against the Raiders defense to actually going against another opponent," said Brock. "This week is the Arizona Cardinals so we have to completely switch gears. They have a little different front, a 3-4 team, so it's just mentally getting ready to go against that different front."
The rookies will play in their first NFL game this Thursday. CB DeMarcus Van Dyke, who recorded an interception during today's practice, is looking forward to playing in a real game. "It's going to be excellent," said Van Dyke. "You're going against the same guys every day at practice so it will be great to see some new guys on Thursday."
Van Dyke is nervous, but he's excited to get out there and show what he's got. "[My nerves are] real big right now," said Van Dyke. "When I get that first tackle, I'll be okay."
The Raiders will continue to study and prepare for their first preseason game as Training Camp 2011 rolls on. The team will practice two more days before they play host to the Cardinals Thursday, August 11, at 7:00 p.m. Log on to Raiders.com, Facebook, and Twitter for complete Training Camp and Game Day coverage.