The team huddles up at the conclusion of the off-season program. Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Oakland Raiders held the final practice of their 2012 off-season program on Thursday. After a voluntary veteran mini-camp, rookie mini-camp, 10 sessions of Organized Team Activities, and a full-team mandatory mini-camp, the players head home for several weeks before training camp.
Head Coach Dennis Allen and the players feel good about the progress they made throughout the off-season program. "It's always going to be a work in progress, but I specifically thought over the last couple days that I could kind of feel that we were figuring out what we were asking them to do and I thought the guys really responded over the last couple of days," said Coach Allen. "But I was pleased with the way that the guys, especially later in the OTAs and really into this mini-camp, how they really got a grasp of what we were asking them to do schematically. Really kind of felt the improvement of the last couple of days.
QB Carson Palmer was amazed at how much the team was able to accomplish. "We got a lot of good work in, and you never know what to expect as you're coming out of this last mini-camp, after the OTAs and off-season workouts," said Palmer. "I can't speak for everybody, but I'm definitely pleasantly surprised with where we are. We got a lot done. We put in a lot. We executed very well. There weren't a lot of mental mistakes. There were some young guys and rookie guys that need to catch up. But for a new offense, a new system, really a new regime, we're in a good place with this time we have coming off to get ready for training camp."
Veteran CB Pat Lee, who joined the Raiders after spending four seasons with the Green Bay Packers, finished mini-camp feeling confident in where the team is headed. "It went very well; got a lot of good work in and learning the playbook and coming out here and doing drills and stuff," said Lee. "Getting everything situated and getting the nicks out felt real good."
The team has been able to develop chemistry over the course of the off-season. "If anyone's just out here and witnessing how we get along and our chemistry together and the amount of fun we have together, you can kind of tell, just first-hand, a difference," said FB Marcel Reece. "It's not just us running backs, since we've always been a close-knit group, it's not just us getting close, but it's everybody. It's us bonding with the DBs and the linebackers, and just having good clean fun."
Lee, one of several new veteran players, felt comfortable as soon as he joined the squad. "I feel good [about the chemistry]," said Lee. "Everybody welcomed me with open arms. So I feel real good here."
"The team came together great," added WR Darrius Heyward-Bey. "I mean everybody is getting along. We've got new guys so being here for the off-season is key. And for the wide receivers, we had some cookouts during the off-season so it gave us the chance to get to know everybody."
The team will reconvene in Napa at the end of July and try to continue to progress on both sides of the ball and maintain the chemistry they built during the off-season.