For those dressed in the Silver and Black, there were a lot of new faces on the field Tuesday. The Oakland Raiders have been practicing against one another for weeks now (including Organized Team Activities), and going up against the Detroit Lions provided a breath of fresh air. Tuesday’s practice was unique considering it’s not every day the team holds a joint practice, or even takes the field against the Detroit Lions that often, however, Raiders linebacker Tahir Whitehead may have had the most topsy turvy day out of anyone.
Whitehead joined the Raiders this offseason after spending six seasons with the Lions, and suiting up against his former teammates was interesting to watch. From the moment No. 59 left the locker room and walked on the field, he was hugging and shaking hands with practically every Lions player or media member in sight.
Stay anywhere six years and you’re sure to build a connection with the people around you, and the love between Whitehead and his former associates was abundantly clear.
“It was pretty much and everybody that I was familiar with,” Whitehead said post-practice. “A couple new guys here and there, but pretty much the same guys.”
For the most part it was business as usual, especially when it came to playing against Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford.
“Matt is a smart quarterback,” he said. “[He] has a strong arm, that hasn’t changed, so everything was pretty much straight forward.”
Even though it was all love between Whitehead and his former teammates, that didn’t prevent either side from talking a little trash.
“It was fun, it was fun getting a chance to catch up with the guys even though we’re chirping, and everything gong back and forth,” he said. “It always makes it fun.”
“Nothing’s changed, like I said, when I was there we did the same exact thing. We’re going back and forth, it’s all competitive, and just trying to get each other better. Like I said, this time in the Black and Silver and it’s just a different feel.”
Wearing a different uniform might feel different, but Whitehead looks every bit the part of a quality linebacker out there in Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther’s system. Not only did he look comfortable, but in seven-on-seven drills, fellow Raiders linebacker Emmanuel Lamur picked off Stafford and ran it back to the end zone with Whitehead right behind him.
In the few months the former Temple Owl has been with the Raiders his teammates seem to have taken a shine to him, with players young and old gravitating toward the 28 year old. Whether it was in Detroit, or here in Oakland, Whitehead will look to be a key contributor in the middle of the field.
The Raiders will play host to the Lions once again tomorrow for their second joint practice, prior to kicking off against them at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum this Friday in their first game of the preseason.