Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Oakland Raiders returned to the practice field Sunday afternoon at their Napa Valley Training Complex. After Friday's Preseason Week 1 matchup with the Vikings in Minnesota, and a day off Saturday, the players took the field ready to correct mistakes and continue to grow together as a team.
Today marked the penultimate practice in Napa, as the squad will take the field one more time Monday morning before traveling to Oxnard, Calif., for two joint practices with the Dallas Cowboys.
"It was good to get back out here after playing a game, get a chance to make some corrections, get out and get some more work in," said Head Coach Dennis Allen. "Today was a good situational day, had a little bit of red zone today, had some two-minute there. It was great to see the field goal operation at the end, being able to kick a couple of long field goals to win the game. So, we got better as a football team today and we'll have another good practice tomorrow and then we'll go down to [practice against] Dallas and get a chance to work with them for a couple of days, so we're excited about that opportunity."
Before the work begins against the Cowboys, the Raiders wanted to find ways to fix the errors made at TCF Bank Stadium. "The biggest thing we do is you take the good and the bad," explained T Menelik Watson. "And then I take note of little sets on certain plays where I could have used a different style of technique. That way, whenever we ran that play today in practice, I tried what I should have potentially done in that, maybe short setting a guy, maybe bring my hands more or running my feet more or. I'm always just trying to find self improvement. I'm never really satisfied. You don't want to dwell too much on the game, but you want to remember certain things that you could have done better so if you get yourself an opportunity again, you won't make the same mistake twice."
For the rookies, the preseason game allowed them to get the feel for the NFL for the first time. "You have to get the first game jitters out of the way and now you're more relaxed and more concentrated," said DE Shelby Harris. "Now it's time to just go out and play."
Making corrections is a season-long process and the Silver and Black will continue to find ways to improve.
But the players are excited for the opportunity to change up the setting and face another team. Coach Allen expects great competition. "Getting a chance to see some different looks, from a different team, go up against different personnel…I think anytime at this point in training camp, anything you can do to change up the schedule a little bit to get the guys a little bit of energy, I think is a positive," said Coach Allen. "I'm looking for our guys to go down there and compete for two days against a good football team."
Aside from the matchup with the Vikings, the Raiders have been going up against the same players each day. Switching it up gives the offense and defense a chance to get some new looks. "I'm really excited to be able to go against another team in practice. It's going to be a nice change up and help us develop offensively and defensively," said WR Andre Holmes. "I'm really excited for that. It feels good to get the first preseason game out of the way, because now we know what things we need to improve on, and what things we need to get better at."
Watson expects it to be a little feisty when the two iconic franchises meet in Oxnard. "It should be intense. Should be fun. Should be a lot of drama," said Watson.
LB Kaelin Burnett, originally from Southern California, is excited to have family and friends come out to watch him play. "I'm looking forward to it," said Burnett. "We're going down to Oxnard tomorrow; it's not too far from LA so I have a few family members coming out to support us, so I'm real excited."
Although it seems Training Camp 2014, presented by California National Guard, is coming to a close because the team is leaving Napa, in reality, the players still have to continue the training camp grind elsewhere. "We're just leaving Napa, but training camp isn't technically over yet," said Burnett. "We had fun out here in Napa for these past two weeks, seeing the fans come out to practice and cheer us on. It was fun, but the grind doesn't stop just because we're leaving Napa. We still have to grind."
The next few days are busy for the Silver and Black – one last practice in Napa, a trip to Oxnard with two days of practice with the Cowboys, and a Preseason Week 2 matchup at O.co Coliseum against the Detroit Lions.
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