Defensive Coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.
The Oakland Raiders wrapped up their week of work Thursday, going through their sixth Organized Team Activity [OTA].
Here are five things I noticed watching their last workout of the week.
1. Energy, Energy, Energy
Heading into the final day of the work week, one could assume that there would be a little lethargy from the team on the field heading into the weekend.
However, that wasn't the case for the Silver and Black Thursday.
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. was his usual energetic self, clapping his hands and encouraging his defense to finish the week strong. The defense did just that, flying around the practice field and flashing a noticeable spring in their step as they went from drill to drill.
It wasn't a perfect day for the defensive side of the ball though, as during one of the individual drills, Norton chided the defensive line for talking too much and not focusing on the task at hand.
2. It's All About Fundamentals
Since his arrival in Oakland, Head Coach Jack Del Rio has stressed that he wants his team to be fundamentally sound in all aspects of the game.
The only way to ensure that's the case? Get back to basics, and that's precisely what the team did Thursday.
From working on proper tackling technique, to forcing fumbles and catching interceptions, there were several portions of Thursday's session that were heavily focused on doing the little things right.
Solid fundamentals are crucial to finding success anywhere on the football field, and it's particularly important to stress those fundamental at this point in the Offseason Workout Program.
3. Rodney Hudson Shares His Wisdom
General Manger Reggie McKenzie signed center Rodney Hudson in free agency last year to not only anchor the Raiders' offensive line, but to also act as leader for the younger players on the line.
Hudson is only 26 years old, but heading into his sixth NFL season, he has more professional experience than every player on the offensive line excluding left tackle Donald Penn.
Between reps of one of the offensive linemen's individual drills, Hudson took undrafted free agent Torian White aside and spent several minutes with him demonstrating proper footwork, leverage, and hand placement.
Hudson is undoubtedly one of the most athletic centers in the league, and it's good to see him embracing a leadership role with some of the younger players and sharing his tricks of the trade.
4. Max McCaffrey Makes A Play
Of all the undrafted free agents the Raiders signed this season, perhaps none garnered as much attention as wide receiver Max McCaffrey.
The son of former NFL player Ed McCaffrey and brother of current Stanford Cardinal running back Christian McCaffrey, Max was a standout wide receiver at Duke before joining the Silver and Black in May.
After a quality performance at Rookie Minicamp, McCaffrey has been rather quiet since the team began OTAs, but he definitely made an impression Thursday, running an impressive slant route and hauling in a pass over cornerback Sean Smith.
Operating from the slot, McCaffrey showed an impressive burst at the line of scrimmage and upon making his cut across the field, he left Smith at least two steps behind him as he hauled in the pass and turned upfield.
The former Duke Blue Devil may have had a rather quiet few weeks, but from time to time he flashes the ability that made him a coveted undrafted signing.
5. Defense Wins The Day
The Raiders ended their day – and week – by running a simulated two-minute drill.
The first team, second team, and third team units all got a chance to participate, and in each of the three situations, the defense came out on top and kept the offense out of the end zone.
Perhaps the defense's most impressive stand of the afternoon came against quarterback Derek Carr and the first team, as Khalil Mack and friends forced a three-and-out in just over 20 seconds.
After all three units got a chance to compete in the two-minute drill, the offense was forced to do pushups as punishment for losing the final period of the day.