Less than a week away from the first preseason game of the season, the Oakland Raiders took the practice field for their 15th practice of Training Camp 2010 in Napa. With former Raider and eight-time Pro Bowler Steve Wisniewski watching from the sidelines, the team continued their preparation for the upcoming trip to play the Dallas Cowboys.
The team played without pads in the only practice of the day and exhibited high energy throughout the afternoon. NFL referees officiated the 11-on-11 team session, helping simulate a regular season game. As the first contest nears, Coach Cable explained that the practices continue to focus on working hard and preparing for the 2010 season. Practice is "more about getting your guys prepared to play in the game and get ready for that environment and the process of doing it," said Cable. "We are going to travel so I think that is kind of a good thing for us too."
The regimen implemented by the coaching staff has prepared the team for their first road trip of the season. DT Chris Cooper believes having the first trip on the road is an advantage for the Silver and Black. "It's an advantage because you get to see where you're at early on in camp on the road because the most important games are on the road," said Cooper. "It's going to let us know what we need to work on and what we'll be dealing with [during the regular season]." FB Marcel Reece agreed with Cooper. "I think it helps us more. We get used to the traveling, we get out of the West coast and get out and play a football game," explained Reece.
The Raiders preseason game will be played at the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium against a playoff squad in the heat and humidity of Texas. Where the elements of the road game could intimidate a team, the Oakland Raiders view the contest as a good gauge. "I think it's just going to be a regular season type atmosphere," said Reece. "You know we went there last year on Thanksgiving and we played hard. We did some things well and we needed to work on some things. We've had some time to work on them and we'll go out there and play hard."
LB Quentin Groves views the first preseason game as a good test. "It's a good test to see where we are," said Groves. "All these weeks of hitting and these practices, we hit each other so much. But when you hit somebody else and compare to somebody else, it really shows where you stand. If we come out strong it'll be great, if we don't come out strong we'll know what we need to work on."
Preseason games are opportunities for players to prove themselves and secure a spot on the regular season roster. Playing a team like Dallas is a chance for the young players to show what they are made of in pressure situations. "Ninety-five percent of this team is playing for jobs," explained Cable. "When you start playing those pre-season games, every snap is very critical for each one of those guys."
Traveling to the new Cowboys Stadium, playing against his former team, Cooper is excited for the game atmosphere. "They're going to fill the place because so many people want to go in there and see the stadium and it's their first preseason game. It'll be good to get that under our belt with the crowd noise and get us excited for the rest of the season and get us going."
The Oakland Raiders only have a handful of practices left before their trip to Dallas and are eager to don the Silver and Black and play in a real game.
The Raiders will be back on the field for two practice sessions on Saturday as Training Camp 2010 continues.