The Raiders 2012 Draft class. Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Oakland Raiders concluded their three-day rookie mini-camp with an on-field practice Sunday. The players hoped to continue to show improvement as they became more comfortable with the Raiders system.
"I just feel like a better player, a better part of this program, learning the defenses," said the Raiders fifth round draft pick DE Jack Crawford. "The first day was tough trying to take in so much and then go home and study and pick it up the second day. I came out and did a good job, so I was trying to get better every day, trying to work with the coaches, take their advice and become a better player overall."
The Raiders fourth round draft pick, LB Miles Burris, despite consistent improvement over the three days, knows he has a long way to go. "It went pretty well," said Burris. "There's still a lot to learn and I need to get more comfortable with the all the adjustments and just learning the defense in general, but it's been a great experience."
For offensive lineman Zach Hurd, who has been with the team since last season, the rookie mini-camp was an opportunity to perfect his play and get an even better grasp of the system. "It went really well," said Hurd. "Being able to do rookie mini-camp, I was able to see plays in a different way than I saw them for the first [veteran] mini-camp. It definitely helped me mentally a lot more and then physically being able to play…I played guard and now I've been playing tackle at this mini-camp so it's just helping me get overall into my game."
Hurd, as well as offensive linemen Alex Parsons and Colin Miller, took a leadership role with the rest of the linemen throughout camp. "We just showed them the ropes," said Hurd. "We've been here before, so watching film and trying to show them the small little technique things that we've learned and been able to pick up on and take them under our wing a little bit."
For many of the rookies, their goal was to show improvement and get a little better each day. "I think I did make progress," said Burris. "I'm starting to get a grasp of this system a little better, the coverages and different plays, but I still have a long way to go and I'm ready to put the work in to do that."
Crawford took full advantage of his time with the coaches during the mini-camp. "Working with the coaches, the advice they have to give, just becoming a better player," said Crawford on his goals for the weekend. "I kind of started to understand the philosophy and what they want from somebody in my position, playing defensive end, for them. Now it's about getting better and learning from the vets who are coming in tomorrow, so I think I accomplished a lot. I'm really happy with how it went."
LB Nathan Stupar, the Raiders seventh round pick out of Penn State, did his best to adjust to pace of the National Football League. "It was a rush because it's 24/7 football and you wake up thinking football, you go to bed thinking football, and it's literally an all day job and it's a little more respect for what these guys do," said Stupar. "These last three days were a lot of fun with the team, getting to know kids and it was good to put the helmet back on and run around playing football."
As the draft picks start to settle in at Raiders headquarters, they are starting to realize that their lifelong dream has come true. "It's crazy," said Crawford. "The first thing I said when I went out to practice was, 'I still can't believe I'm in this uniform.' It's an NFL uniform, it's my dream, so it's just a good feeling. There's no better feeling than putting on a Raiders uniform."
Both Burris and Stupar are excited and grateful to be part of the Silver and Black. "It felt great," said Burris on putting on the Raiders uniform. "It feels great to be a part of this right now. I'm just focused on making the team and making a difference."
Stupar agreed, "It's an unbelievable experience and I'm just blessed to be a part of it."
Eligible rookies will return to the facility tomorrow and join the veterans in Organized Team Activities.