The 2015 season began early for 45 members of the Oakland Raiders.
While veterans such as Charles Woodson and Justin Tuck check in to the Napa Valley Marriott Thursday, rookies, quarterbacks and players returning from injury arrived to the team's training facility Sunday morning to go through several days of pre-camp workouts.
"It really starts [Thursday] when the veterans get here, but it was good for us to get in here, get a little bit of extra work," said rookie linebacker Ben Heeney. "Just to be able to get these couple of days to refocus and get my mind back to football is good for me."
While the whole team wasn't in attendance for the workouts, Heeney still saw a benefit to getting a select group of players up to a Napa a few days early.
"I think it's good just for all of us because for the new guys and guys coming back from injury, they weren't out there for Mandatory Minicamp and OTAs [Organized Team Activities]," Heeney said. "For us rookies to get out there and refresh our minds and get back in the football mode is good."
Since the 2015 NFL Draft in April, the Raiders rookies have gone through the entirety of the offseason program at the team's Alameda, Calif., but for the next four weeks Napa will act as headquarters for the team.
Heeney is less than two months away from his first professional football game, but as he enters his first training camp, the moment doesn't seem too big for him.
"It's pretty much par for the course," Heeney said. "It's what I was expecting. It's hot compared to Oakland, but I'm just ready for it to get rolling, and get pads on Friday."
This season, just 12 teams elected to go away for training camp, and while the trend of team's staying home for their preseason work is becoming the norm, Heeney enjoys the fact that the Raiders still head up to Napa for training camp.
A look at the Raiders position by position - we continue with the linebackers.
"I think it's cool, because it's just something new," Heeney said. "It's not the standard stuff we've been doing for months. I like getting out and getting a new environment and going to a new place."
Half the roster has yet to arrive in Napa, but the rookie linebacker believes that the coaching staff has put the team in a position to succeed and has them mentally tuned in for when training camp officially kicks off Friday.
"Energy's high," Heeney said. "I think everybody definitely has the right mindset. The coaches especially, they're putting us in the right positions to make plays. I think going forward we're just going to continue to get better."