A large contingent of Raiders players assembled at the Oakland Raiders Alameda, Calif., facility for the first day of the 2012 off-season program. New and returning Raiders had the opportunity to meet the coaching staff for the first time, reconnect with teammates, and learn the exercise program from new strength and conditioning coach Al Miller. The players also had the chance to work with equipment manager Bobby Romanski to receive new gear for workouts and get outfitted for the season.
"Usually, in February, we do most of the ordering and it comes in the middle of March and we start putting it away, getting helmets out and getting them all painted and get everything the way it needs to be, so when they come in, we're ready to go for them," said Romanski. "Today has been a little bit of a rush. Haven't had this many guys here at one time in a while. Now we're turning to Nike, so we're busy with all their new stuff coming in and trying to get everybody fitted up with that."
With the start of off-season workouts, the players pick up the gear necessary for strength and conditioning. "This time of year we just make sure they have undergarments and sweats and tennis shoes and cleats just so they can get to their workout right away," Romanski explained. "We'll slowly pick at them to get their helmets and shoulder pads and all that equipment stuff done as we go."
In addition to meeting with Romanski and working out with the strength and conditioning staff, the players met with new head coach Dennis Allen and their position coaches. "It's different with all new coaches," said second-year OL Stefen Wisniewski. "We are walking in here kind of like last year, not knowing who anybody is as far as coaches go. But knowing players and knowing what it's like to play an NFL season is giving us a lot more confidence coming back."
Despite the changes, Wisniewski is excited to be back at the facility and is ready to work. "Great to be back," said Wisniewski. "The offseason was nice, but it's about time to be back to work. Three months is a good break and much needed after a long season, but it's time to go to work now."
LB Travis Goethel is ready to get back into off-season workouts after sitting out last year with a knee injury. "I feel good," said Goethel. "I'm just ready to get after it. Last year it was a long year for me, just sitting there watching everything go down. I'm just excited to get back in the mix and start playing football again."
Goethel feels comfortable with the new coaching staff after meeting them for the first time. "Today is the first day that I've actually met with them face to face and they all seem like cool dudes and they all want to get after it just like we do."
The players have set goals for themselves as well as the team and are using these workouts and meetings as a first step in reaching those goals. "My goal right now is to get out and contribute as much as I can, whether it's on defense or special teams, just get out there and help this team out as much as I can," said Goethel.
"We want to win," said Wisniewski. "We want to win the AFC West, make the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. We have the talent to do it and this is the first step here -- getting the talent to work together to reach those goals."