The Oakland Raiders held their final practice of 2014 Mandatory Mini-Camp. It was the last Raiders football until the team takes the field for Training Camp at the end of July.
Head Coach Dennis Allen feels comfortable and satisfied in the work accomplished throughout the offseason. "I think we had a heck of an offseason," said Coach Allen. "I think our guys are battling, they're competing. They're working extremely hard. We've accomplished a lot in this offseason. We've gotten a lot better as a football team."
The overarching goal over the past several weeks was to get better as a football team. Although there is a lot of work still left to be done, the Raiders improved significantly. "I don't think there's any question you can feel that," said Coach Allen. "I think we've had an outstanding offseason and I think our team from the day that we started the offseason program to where we're at now, we've improved tremendously, but we've still got to go out there and do it when we get to training camp and do it when we get to the regular season."
The Raiders 2014 first round draft selection, LB Khalil Mack, has been soaking up as much as possible from the coaches and veterans around him. "[The veterans have] embraced me and they've been trying to teach me, along with the coaches, and teach me a lot of different things; put me under their wing and show me different things about the game," said Mack.
Ultimately, the rookie linebacker wants to improve every time he steps on the field. "I'm trying to go out there every day and work on something that they want me to work on, and get better at it," said Mack. "And try not to make the same mistakes; that's my biggest thing. I try to go out there and do what I can to make plays and be in the right position. That's all they're trying to do; put me in the right position to make plays. I'm thankful for that part."
Despite a significant amount of information being thrown at him, Mack feels good about his first couple of months as a Raider. "It went well. I got some good work in. It's been productive so far. I'm learning a lot, so yeah, it went well," he said.
As productive as Organized Team Activities and the Mini-Camp have been, it's hard to really gauge the team until the players put the pads on for training camp. "I'm excited to see all these guys in pads," said Coach Allen. "There's a lot of guys on our team that I haven't seen go through a padded practice, and I think the guys are excited about it. That's real football. You put the pads on and you start really competing and we'll find out a lot more about what we have when we start doing that."
The men of the Silver and Black have about a month off before the grind of training camp. "We're going to kick back a little bit and relax for a couple of weeks," said Coach Allen. "I think we've got the type of guys on this football team that are going to make sure that they come back extremely fit and they're ready to go. It's an exciting offseason and we've got a lot of work ahead of us, but we're excited about it."
The players will come back and try to earn their spot on the Raiders 53-man roster. "I expect myself to come in and do what I can to make an impact on the team, in any way I can," said Mack. "Whether it's playing on special teams, whether it's being a pass rusher or whether it's dropping back in coverage, I want to be able to make an impact on the football game."
The coaches, players and staff know that there's a long way to go before the Raiders are where they need to be, but this offseason got them off to a great start. "I like the direction we're headed as a football team. I think we've got a group of guys that are committed to winning," said Coach Allen. "I think they're committed to this organization, and I think we have a lot of guys who have a lot to prove. That's an exciting thing for a football coach. That's an exciting thing for these football players. So I like our direction, I like our commitment, and we've just got to keep working."