Despite it being Labor Day, the Oakland Raiders were hard at work on Monday at their Alameda Practice Facility preparing for their week one bout against the San Diego Chargers to kick off the season.
The Raiders' 50th season officially kicks off on Monday as the two teams participate in the NFL's Legacy Games, games commemorating the 50th anniversary of the original eight teams of the AFL. Both the Raiders and the Chargers will wear uniforms reminiscent of the team's of yesteryear.
The Raiders are 5 – 3 against the Chargers on Monday night and 36 – 24 – 1 overall for the nationally televised game.
"It's exciting for us. It's a divisional game, which makes it more special. We have some things we want to accomplish. Some goals we want to accomplish and it starts Monday." Coach Cable said.
Coach Cable met with the media after practice and discussed what the team needs to do to be successful against the Chargers.
"Obviously they have a tremendous running game and tight end. Their receivers are very skilled. Defensively they have two outside linebackers that are very disruptive and a great nose guard, who is probably the best that's ever played. They're a very talented football team."
One player that hopes to be successful against the Chargers defense is the team's first round draft pick from this year's draft.
Like most rookies Darrius Heyward-Bey, is excited to play in his first NFL regular season game, but he is even more excited that he has an opportunity to start.
"I feel good. I feel ready to go. It's going to be a big game. It's the start of the NFL season and the start of my career." Heyward-Bey stated.
With the lights turned on, Heyward-Bey understands what he has to do on Gameday. "Me and the rest of the receivers are excited to show the rest of the world what we can do." he said. Just understanding what I have to do to be successful, not only in the NFL, but on this team. Each and every day I come to work with a goal and that's to get better. It's been working so far."
As a redshirt freshman at Maryland, he had to come in and become an instant contributor. Now as a member of the Raiders, Heyward-Bey expects the same.
"We understand that we are rookies but I remember playing as a freshman at Maryland. I had to come in with a junior mentality. Now that I am a rookie starting, I have to come in and play like a vet." Heyward-Bey stated.
Another player that is getting his first career start is second year strong safety Tyvon Branch.
Branch was selected in the fourth round of last year's draft but was hampered throughout the year with injury. He was a special teams and kick off return standout last season when he played. He totaled 10 tackles, one fumble recovery, and one interception in eight games for the team last year.
The safety out of the University of Connecticut has had a strong offseason thus far and wants the momentum to carry into the regular season.
"I'm definitely excited to play." Branch said. "I've been waiting for this moment for a long time. I think we are going to have a good year this year. I think we worked hard in the offseason and training camp and I can't wait to see it all come together on Monday night."
What faces Branch and the rest of the Raiders defense is a high powered Chargers offense that ranked 11th in yards per game last year.
Branch said the key to the Raiders success lies in their ability to stop San Diego's backfield. "Stop the two backs they got. They have two dominant running backs. They are both explosive and we just want to lock both guys down." Branch explained.
Watch Tyvon, Darrius, and the rest of the Raiders Monday night as they face the San Diego Chargers in an AFC west showdown.
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