Defensive End Khalil Mack and Defensive Line Coach Jethro Franklin
The Oakland Raiders opened a busy week Monday, participating in their seventh of 10 Organized Team Activities [OTAs] at their Alameda, Calif., facility.
Here are five things I noticed from their first practice of the final week of OTAs.
1. Welcome Back, Marvin Hall
There was a newish face on the practice field today as newly-signed wide receiver Marvin Hall took part in his first OTA as an Oakland Raider.
Hall – who played his college football at the University of Washington – took part in Rookie Minicamp last month before signing with the team Monday.
He's currently wearing No. 17, and becomes the second undrafted Husky on the team, joining teammate and fellow wide receiver, Jaydon Mickens.
2. Ben Heeney Puts A Good Day Of Work On Film
Heading into 2016, there are big expectations attached to second-year linebacker Ben Heeney.
The former fifth-round draft pick appeared in 15 games during his rookie campaign, really becoming a key cog in the defense in the final quarter of the season. Heading into his second season in Silver and Black, Heeney – along with Malcolm Smith – figures to be in the mix as one of the team's inside linebackers.
Heeney enjoyed an impressive day Monday, making a pair of game-changing plays during the team's 11-on-11 sessions. First, Heeney burst through the line, meeting running back Latavius Murray in the backfield, and in a later session, he nearly corralled an interception after dropping in coverage, but ended up dropping the pass.
Heeney showed in 2015 that he's more than capable of playing at a high level, now he just has to familiarize himself even more with defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr.'s scheme.
3. Jihad Ward Gets Coached Up
During one of the team's special teams periods, defensive line coach Jethro Franklin worked on the side with his group, going over hand placement and technique with the group – specifically rookie defensive lineman Jihad Ward.
Franklin was in constant discussion with Ward, routinely telling the rookie where to place his hands and what to look for when going against an opposing offensive lineman.
Ward may be rather soft spoken, but he's shown that he doesn't mind asking questions and that's a good sign for a rookie that Head Coach Jack Del Rio and his staff have high hopes for.
4. Down Goes Downing!
One of the lighter moments of Monday's practice came during a drill in which the running backs were working on their blocking in passing situations.
In the drill, each player had to lay a quick block before running out of the backfield and turning to catch a pass from the quarterback, with members of the coaching staff serving as defensive players.
When it was Latavius Murray's turn to go through the drill, quarterbacks coach Todd Downing lined up against him as the defensive player stand in, and as Murray laid the "block" Downing fell to the ground.
Derek Carr and the rest of the offensive players all erupted in laughter – as did Downing – and the moment provided a moment of levity during Monday's session.
Don't worry though, Coach Downing is fine.
5. The Defense Wins Again
Monday's practice ended with a simulated four-minute drill, with the offense and defense getting a chance to compete against each other.
The first team, second team, and third-team units all competed in the simulated drill, and in each case, the defense came out on top.
The Raiders' defense was impressive Monday, flying around the field and routinely getting pressure on the Silver and Black's trio of quarterbacks during the 11-on-11 session,
Per usual, the losing team – the offense in Monday's case – finished practice by doing a set of pushups as punishment.