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Raiders Mini-Camp Observations: Starters Get Some Time Off On Abbreviated Day 3


Outside Linebacker Bruce Irvin

Adios, Offseason Workout Program.

The Oakland Raiders wrapped up their three-day, Mandatory Mini-Camp Thursday afternoon, officially signaling the last time the team will all be together until they report to training camp in late July.

Here are five observations from the Raiders final day on the field.

1. More Visitors Were In Attendance

Yesterday, Oakland A's pitcher Kendall Graveman was at the team's Alameda, Calif., facility to take in practice, and today, it was several members of the San Jose State football staff.

The coaching fraternity – both college and pro – is a tight one, so it's not uncommon to see folks from other staffs roaming the Raiders sideline during an on-field session.

With San Jose State on summer vacation, and the Raiders wrapping up their own Offseason Workout Program, Thursday proved to be a perfect day for the visiting coaches to head north up the highway, to see how the Silver and Black handle business.

2. The Starters Got A Little Time Off

On the last day of Mandatory Mini-Camp, it became quite clear that the team was more concerned about the start of training camp than they were the final day of the Offseason Workout Program.

While the starters went through warm ups and individual drills, during the team sessions of practice, they were held out of work, instead letting the second and third units get a majority of the reps instead, a move done very much by design, according to Head Coach Jack Del Rio.

"Really wanted to focus on the second and third group to get the majority of the work, which they did," explained Del Rio. "It was a good way to wrap up the offseason for us."

In all honesty, at this point in the offseason, it's probably more valuable for Del Rio and his staff to get an extended look at some of the guys a little lower on the depth chart, than it is for them to see a few more reps from Derek Carr and Co.

The starters get a little rest, and some other guys get valuable reps? Sounds like a win, win to me.

3. Kenneth Durden Hauls In An Interception

It's been a productive few days for the Raiders defense, the secondary in particular, and Thursday was cornerback Kenneth Durden's day to get involved in the fun.

During one of the team's 11-on-11 sessions, Durden dropped in coverage, shadowing his man as the play developed. Later on in the play's development, the intended pass was tipped, and Durden found himself in the right place at the right time to haul in the interception.

Once the ball was in his hands, Durden galloped ten yards up the field, before eventually falling to the ground, surrendering himself to the offense. The electric play resulted in a ton of excitement from the defensive players and coaches, and certainly proved to be one of the more eye-opening plays of the afternoon session.

From rookie safety Shalom Luani yesterday, to Durden today, the young players in the Raiders secondary have enjoyed a strong few days out on the field, and I'm excited to watch them continue flying around once the teams gets back to work at training camp.

4. Shilique Calhoun Is Bulking Up

It's normal to see players change physically between their first and second professional seasons; not only does football became their fulltime job, but these young players also have the benefit of a full offseason going through an NFL strength and conditioning program.

Well, it certainly looks linebacker Shilique Calhoun has taken advantage of his opportunities in that regard, as the former Michigan State Spartan looks noticeably bigger than he did as a rookie.

Calhoun appeared in 10 games before his season was cut short due to injury, but that time off the field was obviously well used, not only in rehab, but in bulking up as well.

No. 91 has been putting his new frame to use, acting as a disruptive force along the defensive line, particularly Thursday, as he got a few good pressures on the quarterbacks throughout the day, making his presence felt.

Calhoun played primarily on special teams as a rookie, but with his added weight, and with the experience of another year in the defensive playbook, Calhoun in particular is one player I'm looking forward to watching in 2017.

5. Summer Break Starts Early

Thursday's session was already scheduled to be shorter than the practices the first two days of Mandatory Mini-Camp, but it was made even shorter when Del Rio ended the day's work 15 minutes earlier than scheduled.

With Mini-Camp now in the books, the Silver and Black won't all be together as a team until training camp, and while the upcoming break is a welcome time for players and coaches alike, Del Rio made sure to give his message to his team in regards to the break, loud and clear.

"The message for our guys, I told our guys two major things; make sure that you're taking care of your bodies so you arrive in camp ready to work," Del Rio said. "We're going to have a tough camp and we have a tough schedule ahead of us. We have to be ready to put in the work. So don't let all the good things we just did go away. You have to take ownership of this time in the next five weeks to do the right things. Getting ready, get your body ready. Recharge your batteries a little bit. But two, stay out of trouble. Be safe. Make good decisions. That's what we expect of our guys all the time, but just a reminder. This time of year, more occurrences than ever happen this time of year. Just don't take any liberties. Don't take any chances. Don't take anything for granted. Appreciate where we are and the opportunity that we have and remember that it's all about the team. Anyway, I thought it was a really good, productive offseason."

The Raiders will report to their Napa, Calif., training facility to kick off training camp in late July.

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