With 90 players currently on the Oakland Raiders roster, each practice session during the offseason typically starts with a game of roll call, taking a few minutes to see who – or perhaps more accurately, who is not – on the field.
A quick look at Tuesday’s session showed that No. 50, linebacker Nicholas Morrow was taking place in the first day of Mandatory Minicamp, as was No. 51, linebacker Bruce Irvin, but after that , the next slot on the numerical roster, No. 52 – the number belonging to All-Pro defensive end Khalil Mack – was nowhere to be seen.
Mack has been noticeably absent since the start of the Offseason Workout Program, and that trend wasn’t bucked Tuesday afternoon.
“I don’t know; I just hope so,” said Head Coach Jon Gruden when asked if he thought Mack would be joining the team sooner than later. “One of the big reasons I came here was to coach that man, but I don’t want to speculate. There’s a lot of guys in the league, several players that are in a similar situation, and we’re just trying to resolve it as soon as possible. In the meantime, we’ll coach the players that are here.”
Since Tuesday’s session was the first “mandatory” one of the offseason that Mack had been absent from as he searches for a new contract, the team could technically fine the versatile defensive end, but when asked if that would indeed be the strategy, Gruden declined to get into the specifics.
“I’m not going to get into what we’re going to do,” Gruden said. “That’s our business, honestly, and we’ll deal with it accordingly. We’re hoping to get the man signed. I’ll leave it at that.”
The three-time Pro Bowler has appeared in 64 games, and notched 40.5 sacks since the Silver and Black selected him No. 5 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft.
-Gruden has gone out of his way to bring back, and embrace, the opinions of former Raiders since returning to the sideline, and that was evident once again Tuesday as Rich Gannon was in the house to help coach up the team’s quarterbacks.
-ESPN Reporter Shelley Smith was at the team’s Alameda, Calif., facility to take in Day 1 of Minicamp, and she even got a hug from one of the newest Raiders, defensive tackle Frostee Rucker, as he ran onto the field for his first day as a Raider.
-During his post-practice press conference, Gruden made sure to praise the Raiders rookie specialists, and punter Johnny Townsend had a particularly good day at the office Tuesday. During one of the day’s special teams periods, Townsend coffin cornered a punt, literally having the ball go out at the one-inch line.
-Since joining the Silver and Black, Karl Joseph has seemed to have a knack for finding the football, and that pattern held true again Tuesday, as No. 42 picked off a pass during one of the 11-on-11 sessions.
-The Raiders waived quarterback Christian Hackenberg Tuesday, once again leaving just three quarterbacks on the roster, and while Derek Carr is the clear, No. 1 on the depth chart, behind him, competition is the name of the game.
“Connor Cook’s game is moving up,” Gruden said. “He’s doing better. He still, I think, has some rough edges that he can improve. EJ Manuel is an athletic guy. He’s made some strides, but right now it’s Derek Carr, and it’s wide open after that.”
-Tempers ran a little high during Day 1 of Minicamp, as defensive end Fadol Brown, and rookie tackle Brandon Parker got into a bit of a scuffle following a play in 11-on-11. Brown was ultimately booted from the rest of the practice, and while good, controlled aggression is synonymous with the NFL brand of football, Gruden said after practice that he wasn’t pleased the situation escalated the way that it did.
-The Silver and Black will be on the back Wednesday afternoon; practice starts at 2:00 p.m.