RB Kory Sheets.Photo by Tony Gonzales
The Oakland Raiders wrapped up two joint practices with the Dallas Cowboys Wednesday afternoon. The two teams battled it out on a pair of fields for two days, feeding off the crowd's energy and putting on a show.
"A good couple of days of work against the Cowboys," said Head Coach Dennis Allen. "I think that helped our football team a lot. It was a competitive environment. I think any time you get an opportunity to get in a competitive environment against a good football team, it makes your team better. We got in a lot of good work. We'll head back to Alameda and start getting ready for Detroit tomorrow."
While Raiders practices are always focused and intense, the joint practices were on another level. "Any time you get in these competitive environments, I think it increases the sense of urgency of your football team," said Coach Allen. "I thought we got better over these last couple of days."
The players leave Oxnard feeling like the team improved. "Very intense, but we definitely grew as a team," said TE Mychal Rivera. "Adversity brings out the best in everybody and the team really came together and bonded this week."
Facing the Cowboys allowed the offensive and defensive units to bring game-time competition. "You have to kind of treat it like a game because you're going against a different opponent rather than in practice when you're going against each other," said RB Latavius Murray. "I think it prepares you for this coming Friday, that intensity, so it can only help us when we get that kind of competition in practice."
Rookie DE Shelby Harris benefited from the joint-practice environment. "It's nice beating up on somebody other than your own teammates every once in awhile," said Harris. "It was good work. It was good learning experience and now it's time to focus on the Lions."
"It helps you out a lot because you're going up against a completely different offense than the offense you go against every day," Harris continued. "It trains you in the fact that you can't just be prepared for one type of offense every day. You have to go in and do something different."
Observers could tell that the team was fired up and playing with an elevated level of passion. "That was a game-like environment so you can't replicate that without going against somebody else. And going against the Cowboys, that was just like a game so that was awesome," said Rivera.
Raider Nation in attendance matched the players' intensity during both practices. "The fans out here are crazy," said Harris. "I completely respect the fans and everything they do for us."
As focused as the Raiders were on their work on the field, the cheering and support by the fans in Silver and Black did not go unnoticed. "It means a lot when you have the fan base that we have and, for them to come out to a practice that's not even near home, it means a lot to us," said Murray. "It gets us excited and we just want to put on a good show for them."
A few highlights from practice included a Rivera receiving touchdown, RB Kory Sheets blowing through the Cowboys secondary for a touchdown, and an interception by S Jeremy Deering. WR Denarius Moore ended today's practice with a touchdown catch.
The team returns to Alameda and faces the Detroit Lions at O.co Coliseum in Oakland Friday at 7:00 p.m. PT.