Safety Keith McGill
The Oakland Raiders were back on the field Wednesday, participating in their second of 10 Organized Team Activities [OTAs].
Head Coach Jack Del Rio and all the available members of the 90-man roster returned to work. Here are some things I noticed from the team's time on the field.
1. JDR Gets Hands On
Head Coach Jack Del Rio is no doubt a vocal leader, but he's also not afraid to get hands on with his players, showing them by example what he wants a particular drill to look like.
Before the group split up for the team portion of practice, Del Rio spent several minutes with cornerback Dexter McDonald and rookie linebacker Cory James, instructing them on what he wanted to see from the duo in that particular portion of practice. He went so far as to demonstrate proper hand placement and footwork.
Del Rio spent over a decade in the NFL as a linebacker, and he knows how he wants practice to look like. He's certainly not leery of getting in the mix with some of the younger members of the defense.
2. Spotted, Karl Joseph
Although Karl Joseph has been at the team's Alameda, Calif., facility for several weeks, he had yet to hit the field with his teammates as he rehabs from knee surgery.
During Tuesday's OTA, Joseph worked on the side with a trainer, going through ladder drills, and Wednesday – while he wasn't working on the side – the Raiders' first-round draft pick was back on the sideline.
The former West Virginia Mountaineer observed portions of practice from the sideline, taking mental reps and mimicking the other defensive backs before returning to the team's performance center.
While Joseph is shooting for a return at Training Camp 2016, it's encouraging to see the rookie taking it upon himself to be with the team and get in all the mental work that he can.
3. Coach Franklin Gets Fired Up
Who said that things aren't serious during the offseason?
During the team's first 11-on-11 drill of the day, defensive line coach Jethro Franklin ripped into members of the D-line after a substitution error caused some confusion along the defensive front.
An animated Franklin marched over to the sideline and colorfully told his group that any further lapses would be unacceptable. Franklin – like many of the coaches on the Raiders' staff – is a vocal teacher, and while he's quick to praise his group for a job well done, he'll also let them know when an effort isn't up to his standards.
4. Keith McGill Enjoys Another Good Day
After the 2015 season concluded, Keith McGill made the switch from cornerback to safety, a switch Del Rio spoke about Tuesday following the team's first OTA.
"I think the biggest thing is to give him [McGill] the opportunity to do what he may be best at," Del Rio explained. "He played both in college. I would say he's got great range. His ability to track the ball. There are some things that are not going to be quite as natural but we'll work hard at that going forward. I think he's comfortable back there."
And through the first two OTAs, McGill certainly seems to be comfortable playing on the back end of the defense, as he hauled in an interception Tuesday and nearly snagged another Wednesday.
While it's still early in the process, the former Utah Ute seems to be making good progress learning and acclimating to his new position.
5. Khalil Mack Steps Up
With Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck retiring at the end of last season, the keys to the defense car were handed to Khalil Mack.
Mack enjoyed a breakout season in 2015, but now in 2016 he will have another role to tackle – one as the vocal leader of the Raiders' defense.
It's clear to see that the defensive end has already taken steps to filling that role, and evidence of that was on full display Wednesday.
During a break in the action, Mack spent some time one-on-one with undrafted rookie defensive end Greg Townsend Jr., working with him on his pass rush moves, his swim move in particular.
Although he's entering just his third season in the NFL, Mack is already one of the best players on the defensive side of the ball, and it's good to see him embracing his role as a team leader for the Silver and Black.