Football is back. The Oakland Raiders coaches and players reported to their Napa Valley Training Complex today. Head Coach Hue Jackson greeted the players as they arrived by bus and car, sharing his excitement as the 2011 season gets underway. "It was so exciting to see them I couldn't stop from going around and shaking all their hands when they first got here because I am so happy to see a player," said Coach Jackson.
The players are looking forward to getting back to work after a long offseason without team workouts, OTAs and mini camps. "I've never really experienced anything like this," said 10-year veteran RB Rock Cartwright. Despite an unusual offseason, Cartwright is ready to get back on the field. "We're going to do what we have to do and I know Hue is going to have the mindset right for us, so we're looking forward to that," said Cartwright. "I thank God that the Raiders are ready to get to work."
WR Jacoby Ford is ready to follow the lead of Coach Jackson. "He's going to be fun," said Ford. "We already know what type of coach he is and how he's going to be. He's going to be fired up and we just have to match his energy and go out there and play for him the way he wants us to play."
Many of the players expressed their excitement of playing for Coach Jackson, including veteran LB Kamerion Wimbley. "We're looking forward to great things from Coach Jackson," said Wimbley. "I think all the guys are happy and excited to have him as a head coach. We're looking forward to getting together as a team and building from day one."
Once the players are back in the meeting rooms and on the field, they look to improve on the 2010 season. In order to accomplish that feat, Coach Jackson has prepared an intensive training camp for the Raiders squad. "They're going to understand the history of this place, first and foremost," said Coach Jackson. "There's been some of the most unbelievable players in the world that have played here that have run around on these grass fields. We've had pro bowl players, we've had Hall of Fame players that have played here and our players need to understand that. Second, they need to learn how to work. I don't care if it's hot, I don't care if it's rainy, I don't care if it's cold. Rain, blood, snow, it doesn't matter. We're coming to work each and every day with a purpose and we only know one thing and it's called the AFC West. We are trying to win a championship. It's what I talk about. It's what I believe. I don't know anything else."
Ford stands behind Coach Jackson's goals. "We're looking to come together as a team early rather than late," said Ford. "We're going to go out here and play hard and buy into the system and buy into the coaching staff that we have. We're going to go out there and play Raider football the way it needs to be played."
The guys are ready to be back in Napa, proving themselves on and off the field in preparation for the 2011 season. "I'm ready to get back on the field and put that Silver and Black on again," said Ford.
"I'm proud to be back with the Raiders," said Wimbley. "I wanted to come back here. It's great to be back in the Silver and Black."