The Raiders signed QB Colt Brennan (4) on Saturday, August 7. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
In the unusually cool summer weather in Napa, Calif., The Oakland Raiders took the field for the 16th practice of Training Camp 2010. The morning chill, with the players' breath visible in the air, is vastly different than the 100-degree weather next week's opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, is experiencing. Head Coach Tom Cable is not concerned with this disparity. "The volume of work that we do takes care of the conditioning," said Coach Cable. As the team took the field under the hot afternoon sun for the second practice of the day and the 17th of training camp, they were joined by newly signed QB Colt Brennan who played behind QB Jason Campbell in Washington for two years.
With conditioning improving with each practice and the preseason game approaching, the intensity in camp has increased. Heated battles took place throughout the goal line and short yardage drills Saturday morning. "We play Thursday and obviously we're getting some more live drills in. We're getting used to hitting, getting used to tackling, blocking everything at a live, 100 percent tempo," said LB/LS Jon Condo. "It's starting to pick up a little bit. You know it's kind of fun to watch. It's nice being able to hit."
LB Thomas Howard also appreciated the intensity in today's a.m. practice. "We got some good goal line work in today and short yardage. It was live and you need some of that going into a game, need a little bit of tackling," Howard explained. "We're trying to combine good practice after good practice and keep stacking them up."
The spirited competition between teammates helps the players gear up for the game with the Cowboys. "The only thing we've only been doing is going up against each other," said LB Ricky Brown. "It'll be nice to hit a different color jersey."
Linebackers Howard and Brown have been able to prepare for Cowboys TE Jason Whitten by covering Raiders TE Zach Miller. "Zach is one of the best pass receiving tight ends in the game and Whitten is All-Pro," said Howard. "Zach definitely helps prepare for him." Despite Miller's skills, it is impossible to replicate what the Raiders will see out of Whitten on Thursday. "You have to come out here, be focused when you're out here and work as far as keeping your leverage when you're covering the tight end, know where your help is, be disciplined, and set the edges if you have the edge of a linebacker," continued Howard. "Also, help yourself through film study to diagnose what routes he'll be running."
While it is helpful to focus on individual players on opposing teams, the players are more focused on improving and being prepared as a team. "As I team I hope we improve run defense and get after the quarterback," said DE Matt Shaughnessy. Fellow defensive player Howard echoed Shaughnessy's sentiments and added, "We want to get takeaways on defense. We want to win the game and we want our line assigned correctly. We don't want to beat ourselves on defense and we want to communicate."
The Raiders are looking forward to the preseason game to gain experience and measure their progress. Until Thursday "we always have a helmet on and it's always full go," said Shaughnessy.
After two sessions Saturday, the Raiders will be back on the field for an afternoon practice Sunday as Training Camp 2010 continues.