Offensive lineman Stephon Heyer participates in practice for the first time. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Raiders welcomed their free agents to the field for practice for the first time after the CBA was ratified earlier in the day. For the seventh practice of Training Camp 2011, the Raiders had their full camp roster on the field. The free agents have been anxious to practice with their teammates since the beginning of camp and were excited to be out there today.
Head Coach Hue Jackson was energized to finally have his group together. "The fun part about today as you guys know is that the CBA was ratified so we got an opportunity to get a lot of our players back out there on the field and that was exciting," said Coach Jackson.
The returning players did their best to get back into the groove of practicing with the team. "It feels good," said FB Marcel Reece. "You can never really prepare yourself no matter how much work you do for camp and for football shape, but it feels good to be out there with my teammates, put the pads on and move around a little bit and try to make some plays."
The players struggled through the first week, only able to watch from the sidelines. "You feel kind of helpless and weak because you want to go out there and be with your teammates and want to build the camaraderie," said T Khalif Barnes. "Youu want to be out there bleeding and sweating with your guys, but you can't.
Today marked the first time that the men were able to participate in the drills on the field. "Now today, we got a little bit of work in and it feels good to be back," said Barnes. "There was a little bit of rust out there, but to tell you the truth for the most part, it wasn't where it needed to be but it wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be."
LS/LB Jon Condo spent this past week working out on his own in order to be fully prepared for Thursday's practice. "I was working out a lot on my own," said Condo. "I was trying to do a lot of stuff like in practice. I was doing a lot of running and a lot of weight lifting, trying to keep a face pace, but I knew that coming out I would be ready and I was excited today. Hopefully, we can keep that attitude and energy throughout the rest of camp."
Despite missing time, Reece was able to stay on top of his game by being mentally prepared. "I got a lot of mental reps the past four or five days," said Reece. "I think basically it's just physical, making sure I'm in football shape, running every play, get with the ones and get some reps in. A lot of mental reps make up for that and just trying to play catch up a little bit."
"It's just a good feeling to be out here and be working and getting all these cobwebs out," said LB Jarvis Moss. "We're going to be playing here in a week. It's time to step it up. It's time to work."
Also able to practice for the first time were LBs Sam Williams, Bruce Davis II, and Darryl Blackstock, QB Trent Edwards, OL Justin Smiley, Stephon Heyer, Seth Wand, and Samson Satele, DT Desmond Bryant, and S Michael Huff.
The Raiders return to the field on Friday for their eighth practice of Training Camp 2011. Log on to Raiders.com, Facebook, and Twitter for complete coverage.