James Cowser's Training Camp Diary: Putting The Pads On And Playing Real Football

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*Rookie linebacker/defensive end James Cowser will be contributing to Raiders.com throughout Training Camp 2016, discussing his first experience at the team's Napa Valley Training Complex.

*Here is the second entry in the "Cowser Chronicles." *

Putting the pads on was about what you expected it to be; in the sense that I knew it was going to be hyper physical. I knew it was going to be a different level of intensity from all the guys, especially the veterans. I just knew I had to expect a little more because it's time to really play football. It's no longer just running around with hand placement, it's actual real football now.

The first day, you get your impression of how things feel, and what you think they feel like, as far as full speed and the game tempo, and then you watch it on film, and you realize your mistakes. Oh, you can be more physical this way. You need to attack maybe a half-man over instead of just taking him head on, or playing with your hands more than just your helmet. It's interesting to see how it played out full speed, watch it on film and then be able to come back at it Monday in full pads again, and get better and improve.

Thudding up is pretty fun. It's intense. It's what brings the excitement. It's funny, after team run the first day, we got done and the last group was going, and I just turned to "Jelly" [defensive tackle Justin Ellis] and I just had a big smile. I just had to say something, I was like, "this is fun. This is real football." I was having a great time. I wasn't perfect by any means, but it was enjoyable.

Later this week, we'll have practice without pads again, and when that happens, you change just a little bit. You just change your technique. You work on different things. You're not necessarily working on collision with a person, but hand placement, striking with your hands, and using your hands well, because anyone can take a hit with those shells, but you can't take a full-on helmet tackle. You just work on different parts of your technique, different parts of your game when you have to dial it back from the practices with pads.

I hope I'm getting better, I really do. I think I've had a lot of stuff to learn. I've had a lot of improvements to make, and I've had a lot of points of emphasis to work on in practice. I feel like in some areas I've done that, so I feel like I'm headed in the right direction, but there's still so much more for me to do until I become as good as I can be.

MORE ENTRIES:Entry One

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