The Oakland Raiders took the field for their first practice of Organized Team Activities (OTAs). Today was the start of four weeks of on-field preparation before the summer break.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio addressed the media following practice.
HAPPY WITH START OF OTAS
Head Coach Jack Del Rio was on the field with the entire team (rookies and veterans) in helmets for the first time today. He was encouraged with the start of OTAs.
"It was good to get out there, OTA number one. We get an opportunity to have 10 of these practices. It's very valuable for our football team to get the work and to actually now be able to line up against a teammate and run routes and defend and do it against actually people, instead of cars or remote-control cars that we had [equipment manager] Bob Romanski helping us with earlier, or any of those other types of things. Anyway, a good day's work. A good start. We've got basically a month left together before we'll get into the summer break and then training camp will be here before you know it. A good start to the OTAs."
ROOKIES ARE BEHIND BUT WORKING HARD TO CATCH UP**
The drafted and undrafted rookies have only had two weeks to learn the playbook and get to know the ways of the NFL, so unsurprisingly, they're behind.
"You can see they're behind. They're behind physically. They're behind mentally. It's a little bit of catch-up their first year. We try to close the gap. We have extra with them – we have extra meetings in the morning, we have extra meetings in the afternoon, we have extra lifting after practice – to try and bring them up to speed with the veterans. In that, there's some player development work that goes into it in trying to develop these young men into productive citizens. So [director of player engagement] Lamonte Winston does a great job with that aspect. We feel like if we grow good men that will be good in the community, good husbands, good fathers, then we'll have better football players as well."
COACH DEL RIO FOCUSED SOLELY ON FOOTBALL AND THE MEN ON THE TEAM
With owners meetings in San Francisco, there's a lot of buzz around the Raiders, but Coach Del Rio is not worried about anything other than what will help this team win on the field.
"We're not naïve to know that there are things going on, but really, our focus is just on trying to be as good a football team as we can be. We're trying to prepare our football team for the upcoming season. It's really, inside these walls, about that – about football, about competing, about learning the system and challenging each other and building a brotherhood, beginning to get that chemistry and that bond and all of that. I think those business issues are not issues that we're going to have a say in anyhow, so really it's best for us to focus on the job that we have, and that is to be as good on Sundays as we can and make sure that we're ready to put forth great effort every day to do that."
CARR NOT PRACTICING NOW IS BETTER THAN NOT PRACTICING DURING THE SEASON
"Everybody is here working hard, doing what they can. The guys that need to be held out are being held out. They're getting the necessary rehab and will join us when they can. Really, we're not going to comment on injuries this time of year. In terms of policy, we don't get into who's had what and why and different timetables and all those types of things."
"Time missed in May is better than time missed in September, for sure. In fact, you're often more capable of taking whatever time is necessary just to make sure you put things behind you. It's a little more cautious this time of year."
EXCITED ABOUT RECEIVING THREATS FOR CARR
The Raiders added WR Michael Crabtree in free agency and WR Amari Cooper and TE Clive Walford in the Draft. Coach Del Rio, and we're guessing Derek Carr, are excited for the new threats.
"You're talking about two weapons that we added. I think a third in Clive [Walford], the tight end, who every day out there he shows up and does something that grabs your attention. I think you're talking about three weapons in those guys. They added to the guys that are coming back. I continue to talk about the guys coming back, because we want to make sure we're developing them to the fullest. Guys like Mychal [Rivera] and [Kenbrell] Thompkins and 'Dre [Andre Holmes], all those guys, they're all working hard, they're all competing. It's really our goal as a staff to bring out the best in our players and not just the guys that we added that are new. We're excited about them for sure, but also the guys that remain, that are returning, that are working so hard right now."