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Quick Hits: Veteran players recap Day 8 of Organized Team Activities, and mentoring the younger players

The Oakland Raiders wrapped up their eighth day of Organized Team Activities Tuesday, which featured a productive afternoon from the defense, and coincidentally, members of the defense were set to speak with the media following practice. Safety Reggie Nelson, linebacker Derrick Johnson, and cornerback Rashaan Melvin each took the podium, and addressed today’s practice, as well as the defense’s progression.

Here are the quick hits from their respective press conferences:

Cornerback Rashaan Melvin

Melvin talked about what it will take to accomplish his goal of being a No. 1 cornerback in the NFL.

“It starts in the film room. It starts on the practice field. When you line up against a guy, you want to make sure you know everything about a guy before you line up against him. I think when you do that, it gives you a better opportunity to win downs and be successful. It’s part of my nature to be competitive and be willing to outwork whoever is in front of me.”

He praised second-year cornerback Gareon Conley’s athletic abilities.

“I think Gareon Conley is a long guy. We all know he’s a first round draft pick. He plays confidently and his work ethic… he’s one of those guys that you tell him something once, he’s able to get it done for you.”

Linebacker Derrick Johnson

Johnson is beginning to feel comfortable in Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther’s scheme.

“It’s very aggressive. So many different looks. The onus is really on the linebackers to learn a lot of stuff. That’s good for myself because I know a lot. It’s putting a lot of pressure on me to learn it quickly. Learn it well enough where I can put my own flavor in making plays on this defense. I’m having fun with it now. The last couple of days have been my best days, running around.

He shared what’s stood out about the rookie defenders through the first three phases of OTAs.

“Athletic. Very athletic guys. Very athletic guys that can move around. More three-technique type of guys. I’m still learning those guys names, but I know their numbers because they’re running around. They’re just very athletic. Not very big guys, but guys that can get off the ball. Nowadays it’s not really about base defense anymore, it’s about nickel because everyone is passing the ball. It’s a pass-happy league. You need some guys in the inside that can get some, everybody has these big money guys on the outside, you need some guys on the inside that can rush the passer on third down.”

Safety Reggie Nelson

Like Melvin, Nelson is happy to see Conley out on the field practicing, and honing his craft.

“Oh man, I’m happy to see Conley out there running around. A player of his caliber – long, just like Melvin – he’s showing why he was the first-round pick. I think there’s a high standard out there for him and he’s holding that up. I think Conley is doing a great job right now doing what the coaches ask him to do.”

Nelson divulged whether Guenther joining the Raiders played a role in his decision to rejoin the team.

“I would say it was 100 percent if he asked me, if it presented itself, I would have come back. Because I played in the defense, so I mean it worked out in favor for me to be a part of this team and this organization again compared to the situation last year. So, I’m enjoying the process, to be honest with you – out there competing every day just like everybody else is.”

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