Following the team's first off day of Training Camp 2015, the Oakland Raiders returned to the field Wednesday at their Napa Valley Training Complex for another padded practice.
After the Silver and Black's afternoon session, Head Coach Jack Del Rio addressed the media and spoke about his team's performance, as well as the growing rapport between quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Michael Crabtree.
A MIXED DAY BACK AT THE OFFICE
Wednesday served as the team's first off day since they arrived in Napa for Training Camp 2015, and while Head Coach Del Rio was pleased with certain aspects of the day's work, there were still things he wanted to see improved upon.
"The energy was pretty good early. The execution was okay, early. I thought we tailed off a little bit, that's part of the conditioning that's a part of what camp is all about. I thought the eagerness was good, [I] just feel like it wasn't quite as crisp at the end as it was early in practice, a lot of good effort being put forth and certainly growing."
ENTERING THE DOG DAYS OF CAMP
The Raiders are nearly a week into training camp, and the grind of the daily work is starting to settle in.
Wednesday's practice was hot, and Head Coach Del Rio acknowledged that training camp isn't for the faint of heart.
"We'll keep them engaged but I don't know if it's light and fresh when you're in the middle of camp. Camp's supposed to be hard. It is. It's very demanding. The guys are being pushed and we'll continue to push them."
THE CARR/CRABTREE CONNECTION KEEPS BLOSSOMING
Wide receiver Michael Crabtree has been impressive since arriving in Napa, and it seems each day that the connection between him and second-year quarterback Derek Carr grows.
Head Coach Del Rio has been pleased with what he has seen from the duo thus far and is looking forward to their on-field connection growing.
"I think Crab [Crabtree] is giving us some of what he brought him here for. He's friendly to the quarterback and Derek's a good, young player, so that's great competition going on over there for our DBs, to work against a good quarterback, and a good receiver, and some good contested plays right there. I like the way we're working."
DJ HAYDEN IS MAKING PROGRESS
It's well documented that cornerback DJ Hayden is entering the most important season of his young career in 2015, and through the first week of camp, Head Coach Del Rio is pleased with the development he's seen from the young defender.
"I think he's had a great start to camp. He's been on point. He's really learning the techniques. He's come out here and competed, focused really well. I'm really, really pleased with the way he's working."
PRAISE FOR THE BIG GUYS UP FRONT
At a combined nearly 700 pounds, Justin Ellis and Dan Williams provide quite the punch in the middle of the Raiders defensive line.
While he wouldn't reveal if the two would be on the field at the same time, Head Coach Del Rio did praise the skill of the two big men.
"They're certainly two wide-bodied guys that eat up a lot of space, big strong anchor points for a defense. How much they play together and all that, we'll put that together as we go through camp, but we certainly like having them both."
LATAVIUS MURRAY IS GROWING UP
Running back Latavius Murray looks primed to grab the starting running back job in Oakland, and if he does so, part of the job entails an increased football awareness and that's something Head Coach Del Rio has seen improve in the Central Florida-product throughout the offseason program and now intro training camp.
"I think he's grown throughout the spring. In our time being together, I think really the offensive staff has done a good job of bringing some of those guys along, the younger players that need to be developed. He's one of them. I talked the other day about how guys are doing that and this staff is about teaching and developing, and I feel good about the work that's going in. I think Latavius is a guy that has had a nice start to camp."
NO SURPRISES FROM GABE JACKSON
Guard Gabe Jackson was a nice surprise last season for the Raiders offensive line, performing well in training camp and then eventually earning the starting job at left guard.
In 2015 Head Coach Del Rio knows what he's getting in the aggressive guard and Jackson's production hasn't surprised him at all.
"I think he's a good, young player. He's really quiet, goes about his business. He's a very powerful guy. He has good balance and the ability to pull and change directions and he's powerful. He's a good football player."