Linebacker Shilique Calhoun
The Oakland Raiders wrapped up their first week of Organized Team Activities [OTAs] Thursday, completing their third of 10 practices allowed during Phrase Three of the Offseason Workout Program.
Here are some things I noticed from their final workout of the week.
1. The Defense Impressed
While they lost the final team period of the day – and had to do pushups as a result – the defense did look impressive for a majority of Thursday's practice.
While the offense sporadically looked out of sorts, fumbling and dropping passes, the defense was flying around Thursday afternoon making their presence felt between the hash marks.
Defensively, the highlight of the day belonged to linebacker Daren Bates, who during an 11-on-11 drill made an athletic interception in the back of the end zone, much to the delight of defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., and the rest of the defensive players.
2. Rod Woodson Shows His Versatility
During his Hall of Fame career, Rod Woodson did a little bit of everything.
He played both cornerback and safety during his 17-year career, and not only secured 71 interceptions, he also proved to be an asset as a punt returner.
Now that his playing days are over, Woodson's versatility has transferred to his coaching skills. In addition to working with the cornerbacks – Sean Smith and David Amerson in particular – he's also been lending his knowledge to the team's punt returners too.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio says time and time again that he's built a staff of teachers, and Woodson certainly falls into that category, and he's ready and willing to share that information in a variety of areas.
3. Coop and Crab Chat With A Hall Of Famer
Among those in attendance during Thursday's practice were General Manager Reggie McKenzie and Hall of Famer Willie Brown.
Brown played 12 seasons for the Silver and Black as a defensive back, and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984, and has a wealth of knowledge about the game of football in his arsenal.
And it's knowledge he's not afraid to share.
During one of the special teams periods, Brown spent a few minutes chatting with wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper, and whatever he was telling them was certainly entertaining, as the duo were audibly laughing and smiling with the Hall of Famer.
As a franchise, the Raiders stress the importance of "Once A Raider, Always A Raider," and having Brown coach up two of the team's current wide receivers speaks to that point.
4. Don't Sleep On K.J. Brent
Through the first three OTAs, one under-the-radar-player who has made an impression on me is undrafted rookie wide receiver K.J. Brent.
Brent certainly looks the part of an NFL wide receiver, and while he may be on the slender side at 202 pounds, he no doubt knows how to use his athletic 6'3" frame to his benefit.
The Wake Forest-product is a willing pupil as well; before the team hit the field Thursday, Brent some one-on-one time with wide receivers coach Rob Moore, working on footwork and route running.
Later in the session, he put his lessons to use as found the end zone during the team's 11-on-11 session, hauling in a back-shoulder pass from quarterback Matt McGloin.
Don't sleep on K.J. Brent, he'll be an interesting prospect to keep an eye on as the Offseason Workout Program progresses.
5. Shilique Calhoun Makes His Presence Felt
Another player who's stood out through the first three days of OTAs has been rookie linebacker Shilique Calhoun.
Coming into the offseason program, Calhoun was lauded for his versatility, and he's certainly shown that through Rookie Minicamp and OTAs, lining up on all along the defense, with his hand both in and out of the dirt.
During Thursday's practice, Calhoun burst around the right edge, beat the left tackle to his spot and easily got two hands on McGloin.
The rookie didn't take McGloin to the ground – there's no live contact allowed during OTAs – but had it been an actual game, his effort would have been rewarded with a sack.