The 2015 campaign officially got underway for the Oakland Raiders Friday at their Napa Valley Training Complex as the team took to the practice fields for the first time as an entire team.
Following the first day of full-squad practice, Head Coach Jack Del Rio addressed the media and spoke about his initial thoughts from the field, as well as who stood out on Day 1.
IT'S GOOD TO BE BACK
Following the team's summer break, Head Coach Del Rio was pleased to have the entire roster back together and on the same practice field.
"Good to get started, good to have the guys in camp and picking up where we left off and moving forward and getting prepared for the season."
CREATING A SENSE OF URGENCY
Although it's only the first day of practice, Head Coach Del Rio and his staff are already trying to infuse a sense of urgency into the team.
"We're trying to create a greater sense of urgency. We want to make sure that we're building confidence in our guys. We do have talent, we are capable and we're going to work hard and put it together and believe that we can. And so we're coming together as a team, we're out here and working hard it'll be a nice physical, tough camp within the rules of how we can work our squads and I just feel like a team comes together in camp and it's that time of year where we'll need to put in the work and pay the price, but we're ready to do that."
FRIDAY BELONGED TO MICHAEL CRABTREE
General Manager Reggie McKenzie signed Crabtree in free agency to help jumpstart an offense that struggled at times in 2014, and after the first day of training camp, Head Coach Del Rio was pleased with what he saw from the Texas Tech-product.
"He [Crabtree] stood out today and made some nice catches. Mike's a proven player. I don't think we have to worry much about Mike other than becoming a good teammate, getting in tip-top shape, and having a great year. So it was a nice beginning for us to be on time with some of the throws with the quarterbacks and the receivers. It was good to see."
THE PRE-CAMP WORKOUTS PROVED BENEFICIAL
While the Raiders veterans checked into the team's Napa Valley Training Complex Thursday, rookies, quarterbacks and other select players arrived early to participate in pre-camp workouts.
Speaking after the team's first full-squad practice of training camp, Head Coach Del Rio talked about the importance of having half the roster up at camp early to get some additional work.
"I think it was good. I think with the decreased time that you get with the players, in terms of meetings, you get those young guys in and they're able to get a refresher course. You get your quarterbacks and some of the receivers in and you're able to work on the passing game and do some things like that. So, I think it was beneficial for us to come in and have those extra days."
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT
Head Coach Del Rio was asked about the big picture for the team and what excites him, and he said that it was not just one thing.
While challenges will inevitably come up, Head Coach Del Rio was optimistic about the future of the Silver and Black.
"I think the opportunity to come together with this group of men that has this mind on being special. It's a challenge, we all start the same way, at the bottom. We all have this opportunity in front of us and there's talent throughout the league. So what teams come together and develop the kind of mentality they have to have, the cohesiveness, the togetherness, and that's what we're working on. System-wise, we're going to be real sound in what we do. We've got good coaches, good players, and we're just excited to get started."
ONCE A RAIDER, ALWAYS A RAIDER
In addition to the members of the military that were present at practice Friday, a group of Raiders alumni were also in attendance.
From Fred Biletnikoff to Daryle Lamonica, the great Raiders teams of the past were well represented in Napa.
"Once a Raider, always a Raider. So to get a lot of those guys back, it's awesome. I think the tradition is great here. It's rich. And a lot of these guys coming back and supporting us, letting us know they're behind us all the way, it means a lot."
DEREK CARR CONTINUES TO GROW
Derek Carr turned in an impressive rookie campaign in 2014, starting all 16 games for the Raiders, however, much more is expected of the young quarterback this season.
"The biggest thing for us, is for Derek to continue to grow as a player. He's a super bright guy. To have the grasp of the offense the way he does, early, it's huge. And you can only do that through him spending extra time on his own. So, I think the biggest thing is for him to continue growing as a player. He's only scratching the surface."