Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Oakland Raiders took the field Monday afternoon for the fourth practice of 2014 Training Camp, presented by California National Guard, and the second session in pads. The players are continuing to knock the rust off and get into the flow of camp. While they're finding a comfort level with full gear on, the guys are starting to gel within their position groups and the rest of the teammates on their side of the ball.
"Four good days of practice, two days of pads," said Head Coach Dennis Allen. "Tomorrow the players will be off, so it will be a good opportunity for them to get a little time to rest and recover. We've still got a long way to go, but we made a lot of improvement in four days. I'm looking forward to continuing this camp. I like the mindset of our football team and I think we're getting better as a team."
Veteran safety Tyvon Branch, in his seventh Raiders training camp, recognizes the good work so far. "It was a good day today," said Branch. "Guys are playing smart, taking care of each other. We're getting after it, running fast, and that's what you like to see in training camp."
The excitement level is still high, particularly for the younger players, as they find their rhythm in full pads. "Second day in pads was really good," said second-year TE Mychal Rivera. "Just happy to be back at it, happy to be back on the field, and I'm excited for this camp to keep going on."
Rookie DE Shelby Harris is enjoying camp, especially after missing a year and a half of football." Camp is good. It's great being out here especially not playing ball for about a year and a half," said Harris. "Putting pads on brings you back to reality, but I love it. I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's a great feeling to be back out here."
The goal of each day of camp is to improve and veteran CB Carlos Rogers feels the team is doing just that. "Just to come out here and work, we know what's at stake," said Rogers. "Coaches harp on just getting better every day. And you take that mentality and don't worry about the days. It's training camp, taking every day one day at a time and getting better. You get through it."
The pads bring out a little added competition, which has been great for the growth of the men in the trenches. "I think everything gets turned up a notch, definitely, but we've been working hard with the D-line, and they've been great all spring too," said OL Kevin Boothe. "We're both competing out there and trying to improve."
Not only do the daily practices of training camp help the players with scheme and skill, but it allows the position groups to find the chemistry needed for success on Sundays. "We have a lot of veterans back there," said Branch on the defensive backs. "Los [Carlos Rogers] and TB [Tarell Brown], they've been in the league a long time and C-Wood [Charles Woodson] is the Godfather, so we have a lot of experience back there. Football is football and when you've got experience like that, it's easy to gel."
Rivera thinks the tight ends are working together well. "Tight end room is really good. We've got a couple young guys, we have a veteran and we have myself and everyone is just stepping up to the plate," said Rivera.
That tight end chemistry is also working with the quarterbacks. "Schaub and Carr, they've been doing really good," said Rivera. "McGloin has been doing good. Schaub is a real big leader out there and he loves throwing to the tight ends so it's really good."
The veterans are helping the rookies with their transition and making them feel comfortable as pros. "It's going good. It's a group of great guys," said Harris. "And they're great football players, but most importantly, they're great people. I love every second of it. They literally break it down for you in every aspect and that's the greatest part about it. If you don't understand something they take the time to help you understand and I couldn't ask for anything else."
Players are keenly aware of the improvements they have to make in order to be ready for the preseason, and eventually regular season. "The big thing is just trying to improve every day, just find something to improve upon," said Boothe. "I think we're doing that. We know that we have to put in a lot of work and improve because we have a lot of new pieces in here, myself included. We're just trying to work together, work hard and improve on a daily basis."
Tomorrow is the team's first day off of training camp. That day has to be utilized to its full potential in order to be ready for the next section of the training camp grind. "Stretch, hydrate, stay off your feet," said Branch. "It's training camp, you have to be smart, you have to rest your body."
"Real important," added Rogers. "Just relaxing, getting massages, making sure your body is right, because after this, it's not two days in shorts, it's four days in straight pads. It's going to be well worth it. I'm looking forward to it."
Raiders.com will still have you covered on the team's day off, but we're back to regularly scheduled training camp action Wednesday.