The Oakland Raiders concluded their 2014 Rookie Mini Camp Sunday afternoon. The draft class and undrafted free agents had the opportunity to meet with the coaches and participate in a daily walk-through and practice.
"**It feels great to get back out here and get an opportunity to practice football," said Head Coach Dennis Allen. "We're excited about the acquisitions that we've made in the offseason and looking forward to getting out here and really start practicing with the veterans and start building our team for the 2014 season."
LB Khalil Mack showed the coaches throughout, and the media Friday, the reason he was selected 5th overall, despite no pads and no hitting. "He's exactly what we thought he was going to be," said Coach Allen. "He's got a lot of work ahead of him. He's got a lot of getting better to do. But, he's got a tremendous skill set and I would expect a pretty quick assimilation into the National Football League."
Mack is looking forward to continuing the on-field work and getting a chance to show what he can do with pads. "Yeah, I'm ready for the pads, but even then, it's great to get out there and get some good work in with some great coaches and a great staff. I'm excited," said Mack.
QB Derek Carr commanded the offense and felt comfortable focusing on football again. "When it comes to football, it's fun," said Carr. "I'll tell you what – I was excited to finally to get back and play football instead of getting in your underwear and running a 40. This is a lot more fun, being around the team, met all the veteran guys and they've been great. They've been very helpful from helping me with the plays, from helping me where to live, they've been great. I couldn't have asked for a better situation. I'm extremely happy where I'm at."
G Gabe Jackson impressed with his size and strength up front. "Gabe Jackson did a nice job inside," said Coach Allen. DT Justin Ellis (aka Jelly) did the same on the defensive side of the ball.
CB Keith McGill stood out for his size at the corner position. "Keith is one of those guys that he has size, he has length, he has speed," said Coach Allen. "His is a little raw. There are some things that we have to work with him from a fundamental and a technique standpoint. But, he has the skill set that will allow him, if he continues to work and do the things that we ask him to do, to be a good player."
The Raiders second 7th round selection, DE Shelby Harris, spent the weekend working off the football rust after not playing since 2012. By Sunday, it looked like he was regaining his feet. "There is some rust there, but I was impressed some of the things that I saw out of him today [Friday]," said Coach Allen. "He's got a little length to him. He has some athleticism to him, a little bit of burst and explosion."
CB TJ Carrie was quick on defense and also looks to impress with his skills on special teams. And the Raiders final selection of the 2014 Draft, S Jonathan Dowling, is imposing in the defensive backfield with his 6'3" frame.
Many of the Raiders undrafted free agents were noticeable during the Rookie Mini-Camp as well. WR Noel Grigsby caught just about everything thrown his way and WR Mike Davis made impressive catches during wide receiver drills.
And a familiar name adorned the front of one of the running backs' helmets – Atkinson. RB George Atkinson III looked speedy and shifty in his first few practices as a Raider. He wanted to take advantage of the opportunity. "It's a tremendous honor for me to finally put on the Silver and Black," said Atkinson. "Since I was a kid, I've been waiting for this moment and I'm just taking advantage and basking in it right now."
Coach Allen spoke about what Atkinson brings to the table. "I think he's a talented athlete and he's got a lot of speed," said Coach Allen. "He has the ability to help us on special teams also. So, I think anytime a chance to get a legacy, somebody who has the Raider blood lines … Because those guys understand what it means to be a Raider. We were pleased that we were able to bring him in here."
The Raiders rookies had a productive weekend of football at their Alameda facility. Now, they join the veterans in the final week of Phase 2 of the offseason program.
Phase 3, which includes Organized Team Activities and one mandatory mini-camp, begins the final week of May.