Wide receivers coach Sanjay Lal and the Raiders receiver corps pose for a photo on the last day of Raiders Training Camp 2010. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
After an exhausting, but successful four weeks The Oakland Raiders completed Training Camp 2010 in Napa, Calif., with a morning practice. Looking forward to the match up against Bay Area rival, the San Francisco 49ers, in their first home preseason game, the players left training camp in high spirits. Finally able to return to their own beds and the comfort of their homes, the Raiders were excited to leave camp and get back into their regular season routines. With Bay Area bragging rights on the line and the first opportunity to play in front of the Raider Nation, veteran CB Nnamdi Asomugha and T Mario Henderson relish the Battle of the Bay.
"I think it's a big deal," said Asomugha. "It's a big deal every year because you're playing against a team that's right across the bridge so you want to have those bragging rights. But I think it's a bigger deal this year because it's a team we're actually going to play during the season." The Raiders will travel across the Bay to Candlestick Park to play the 49ers in Week 6 of the regular season. "You always want to make an impression when you play them the first time so the next time you play them they have that on their minds," Asomugha continued. "So I think it's going to be a big deal for both teams."
Head Coach Tom Cable also believes the match up is important, not only to evaluate the Raiders talent, but because of the known rivalry. "It's your next door neighbor. We all live right there together so there is a part of that that's important to all of us," Cable explained.
Henderson sees The Battle of the Bay as reminiscent of his earlier days playing football. "It goes back to those college days and high school days of always playing against your cross-town rivals. It's a good feeling. It's bragging rights. You go out to your restaurants, you go to the stores, and they serve us before they serve the 49ers, stuff like that. Plus it's good competition," said Henderson.
Approaching their first home game of the 2010 campaign, the Raiders look forward to finally being able to showcase their growth as a team to Raiders fans. "It's going to feel good," said Henderson. "We haven't played at home since January 3rd. Normally we split the preseason games one-and-one, but we've had our first two away so now we get to be home. It's going to be a great feeling. I know the fans are excited so I know the environment is going to be pretty good."
Asomugha echoed Henderson's enthusiasm of returning to Oakland. "It's going to be great. It's the first time we can get out there and we can show them what we've been doing, show them how good we've become and the different things we've been working on," said Asomugha. They've seen us in two away games and get victories but the most important thing is to come home and impress the fans that have been waiting for you."
Raiders fans can get their first glimpse of the 2010 Oakland Raiders today at the Raider Nation Celebration at Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland from 4 - 6:00 p.m. The Raiders will open their home schedule with a preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers tomorrow at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum at 6:00 p.m.