Wide Receiver K.J. Brent
The Oakland Raiders started Rookie Mini-Camp Friday, and got back to work once again Saturday at the team's facility in Alameda, Calif. Players from the team's 2017 NFL Draft class were in attendance, along with several tryout players, as well as the team's undrafted free agent crop, to continue learning the playbook and scheme on the field.
It was a big day for some familiar faces, and there were also highlights from some new ones. Following the second day of mini-camp, here are five things we noticed.
**1. There were some big receptions
Wide receiver K.J. Brent got the ball rolling on the offensive side of the field with an impressive one-handed catch during the first play of 11-on-11. Brent streaked down the right sideline and leaped in the air over the cornerback to haul in the well-thrown pass.
For the coaching staff, this probably doesn't come as much of a surprise, considering Brent spent the duration of last season on the team's practice squad, and have observed what he's capable of throughout last season.
Fellow practice squad wide out Jaydon Mickens also showcased his talents Saturday, with multiple receptions in contended coverage. Mickens put on an impressive display Friday as well, and followed it up with consistent play on the field this afternoon.
2. Melifonwu demonstrates the qualities of a good teammate
In the second round of the draft, the Silver and Black selected University of Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu. Prior to the draft, Melifonwu caught the attention of several analysts and teams after a freakish performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, where he exhibited his athleticism.
While his performance at the combine highlighted his physical talent, Melifonwu has expressed on various occasions how important it is to him to be a good teammate. Amidst the action Saturday, he stood on the sideline surveying the field as the team ran 11-on-11 drills. As the offensive play began to develop, and the quarterback dropped back, one of the safety tryouts anticipated the pass thrown toward his assignment, and swatted the ball away upon arrival.
The play got Melifonwu fired up; he immediately sprung in the air in excitement, and went to congratulate his fellow defensive back. His encouraging words and enthusiasm were more than enough to help his teammate crack a smile.
3. Assistant Head Coach - Defense John Pagano is fitting right in
Throughout the offseason, the Raiders made a few free agent acquisitions, including the addition of defensive mind John Pagano. The veteran coach spent 15 years as a member of the San Diego Chargers prior to joining the team, serving as the Bolts defensive coordinator.
Now as a coach for the Raiders, Pagano has wasted no time vocalizing his thoughts on the field. He was active during the 11-on-11 drills, pulling Melifonwu aside to share pointers and advice with the rookie. Pagano also spent time with cornerbacks coach Rod Woodson on the sideline discussing a variety of topics. Head Coach Jack Del Rio has expressed the team's excitement to have Pagano on its side now, and it's clear he's fitting in with the group quite well.
4. Two friends and former teammates reunite on the field
Last season, the Raiders signed Brent as an undrafted free agent after he went unselected out of Wake Forest. The team added another Demon Deacon to the squad after it selected linebacker Marquel Lee in the fifth round. Immediately following the pick, Brent took to Twitter to reach out to his former teammate at Wake Forest.
Now reunited, the duo have naturally been spending some time together on the field as opposing players on offense and defense, but also as comrades on the sideline. The two have chopped it up since Lee arrived, and certainly seem happy to be taking the field together once again.
5. General Manager Reggie McKenzie drafted some big guys
It's no secret that building a large and strong offensive line is a key to success in the NFL, and in this year's draft McKenzie continued to add size to the Raiders current group. The Silver and Black owned one of the best offensive lines in football last season, ranking first in least allowed sacks (18) and quarterback hits (41).
Left tackle Donald Penn played an important role in the team's success in the trenches, but will now be tasked with mentoring University of Florida offensive tackle David Sharpe. Standing at 6'6", weighing in at 343 pounds, Sharpe is a towering figure among the rookies. While working with offensive line coach Mike Tice on Saturday, he flashed some athleticism during drills, which for a man of his stature is striking.
Click here to follow up with the action from Friday.