Defensive Back Shalom Luani
Seventy degrees, not a cloud in the sky, and another day back on the field, that's hard to beat. Late Sunday morning, the Oakland Raiders kicked off the final day of Rookie Mini-camp at the team's facility in Alameda, Calif., and spirits were high.
From the drafted rookies, to the undrafted free agents and tryout players, the Silver and Black have been grinding all weekend. Following today's final practice, here are five things that stood out.
1. Energy was high
The moment the players ventured out from the locker room, and stepped onto that first blade of grass, there were smiles all around. The past few days these young men have come from all over to compete with one another, they've dined together, and through it all they've bonded.
This was apparent on the field Sunday; whether they were dancing, laughing, or just conversing, the players were out there having a good time. The coaches aren't excluded from this either, they were cracking jokes with one another and giving each other a hard time, all in good fun though. When you're able to participate in the sport you love, with other people who share that passion, it's easy to enjoy it.
2. Defense was the name of the game
Raiders Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., is known for his mantra "he loves ball," and he certainly expects all his players to "love ball" as well. Sunday, Norton was fired up watching the rookies go to work on defense.
In a simulation setting, the offense was on the 15-yard line and only had one play to win the game. The defense stood its ground and didn't allow the offense to score, primarily because of an offensive holding call. Norton was clearly pleased with his group's production, especially the effort shown by first round pick Gareon Conley. The rookie cornerback flashed his speed on several occasions with blitzes from the outside, which in a real game could have possibly translated to a sack.
3. Linebacker Marquel Lee is embracing the middle linebacker role
When the Raiders drafted Lee in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the team was addressing its need at the position. Lee is a 6'3", 240-pound force in the middle of the field; his size is unique considering he's a big individual, but has a lengthy body to help be a rangy defender.
His size and physical features are noteworthy, but he's taking it upon himself to showcase his leadership on the field as well. The middle linebacker position is essentially the defense's version of a quarterback; they call out the plays and oversee a variety of tasks. The past few days, Lee has been vocal while playing the position and has been a solid communicator with his teammates, which is a necessity when serving as the middle linebacker.
4. Wide receiver K.J. Brent continues to make plays
While the defense owned the day, Brent was a bright spot for the offense. Saturday, Brent and his practice squad cohort Jaydon Mickens both put their receiving skills on display, and Brent got back to work again Sunday afternoon.
An exclusive look at day two of Rookie Mini-Camp
During the team's 11-on-11 drills, the offense was near the end zone, Brent lined up on the right and hit his defender with a nice move during his route that allowed him just enough space to make a play. The quarterback delivered a well-placed ball to Brent in the end zone, and he hauled it in as he jumped up with his defender close in proximity. His ability to make impressive catches has become a regularity over the weekend.
5. Wide receiver Jaydon Mickens showed off his juking skills
In one-on-one drills, the cornerbacks and linebackers lined up opposite the wide receivers and running backs, and the objective was simple; get by your defender, or tag the ball carrier and don't let him slip by. Mickens is known as one of the speedier players on the team, and reminded everyone of that Sunday.
He burst off the line with a quick first step and as his defender approached, he hit him with a double move sending his opponent the opposite direction. The play got a rise out of the players watching, as well as the coaching staff.
In case you missed out on the action from Friday and Saturday, catch up here: