After a long weekend away from the team’s Alameda, Calif., facility – rookies excluded – the Oakland Raiders were back on the field Tuesday afternoon for their second week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs).
Tuesday’s OTA was the fourth of 10 for the Silver and Black; here are six observations from the team’s two-hour session.
1. Coach Gruden brought the energy, again
It might seem repetitive, but it’s something that bears repeating; Head Coach Jon Gruden brings the energy day in and day out.
That was once again the case Tuesday afternoon, as Gruden was not only his usual, vocal self, but even had a little fun ribbing an official to throw a flag on a play during one of the 11-on-11 sessions.
“He brings it every day,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “I think we have a lot of guys in our building that take pride in being the same guy every day, being able to bring the energy, bring the juice every day. That man has like 20 cups of coffee I guess because he has another level that he takes it to, and he hasn’t stopped yet.”
They always say that teams eventually take on the personality of their respective coaches, and if that is indeed the case for the Raiders, I’m excited to see how this team looks once training camp roll around.
2. Doug Martin and The Beast kept the momentum rolling
I wrote last week that Doug Martin looked to have a bit of a spring in his step, and once again, both he and Marshawn Lynch looked sharp Tuesday.
Martin in particular ran the ball with purpose, and even though the veteran running back will turn 30 in January, he certainly looked good throughout the team’s fourth OTA.
Now, we’ll likely get a better picture of what Martin will bring to the table once the pads come on, but so far, so good for the two-time Pro Bowler.
“My approach is just basically I’m a rookie again,” Martin explained. “I have to prove to the team and the players, coaches that I can be useful on this team. Like I said, I just act like a rookie and go out and play. Play the game that I love.”
3. Each day gets better for Derek Carr
The Raiders franchise quarterback spoke to the media following Tuesday’s OTA, and he said multiple times that Coach Gruden makes it a point to make him – along with the Raiders other quarterbacks – uncomfortable during practice, as far as the mental aspect of the game is concerned.
Well, even though Gruden is no doubt keeping No. 4 on his toes, Carr certainly appears to be getting more comfortable with the offense each time the team takes the field.
Look, we know that there isn’t a throw that “D.C.” can’t make, and when he’s healthy, you’d be hard pressed to find a better quarterback in the NFL, but what I’ve really been encouraged by the past few weeks is just Carr’s overall understanding of what the team wants to do on offense.
Whether that’s moving guys around at the line of scrimmage, or changing out of plays when need be, it’s been cool to see Carr take some ownership over what the Silver and Black want to do on that side of the ball.
4. Speaking of the quarterbacks…
We got our first look – at least for an extended amount of time – of Christian Hackenberg.
The Silver and Black acquired the former Penn State Nittany Lion last week, and while he was on the field the day after his trade was announced, Tuesday was the first time we got a long look at the new No. 7.
Admittedly, Hackenberg didn’t get a ton of run offensively, but at the very least, the former second rounder adds competition to the most important position group on the roster.
That’s never a bad thing.
5. Tuesday was a strong day for the defensive backs
Headed into 2018, there were understandably a lot of questions surrounding Paul Guenether’s defense, particularly in regards to the team’s defensive backs.
With Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin and Co., handling business up front – paired with the DB’s struggles in 2017 – it was fair to wonder how the group would look in 2018, but if Tuesday’s effort was any indication, the Silver and Black should be in good shape.
Nothing came easy for the Raiders quarterbacks Tuesday; coverage was tight, and the defense actually came up with a few interceptions too. I think the play of the day belonged to safety Erik Harris, who came over the top, and high pointed a pass for an impressive interception during an 11-on-11 session.
Rashaan Melvin also came away with an interception of his own, so safe to say it was a good day Derrick Ansley’s group.
6. Don’t sleep on Fadol Brown
The second-year defensive end had an active day on the field Tuesday, and while we didn’t see a ton of the Ole Miss-product in 2017, he’s no doubt an intriguing prospect to watch going forward.
First things first, dude looks like a legit NFL defensive end; standing at 6’4” and weighing in at over 280 pounds, nobody is going to mistake Brown for a wide receiver or a cornerback.
That said, Tuesday he showed the ability to get to the quarterback, and if he can do that consistently over the next, few months, watch out.
I know we have a long way to go before the 53-man roster is set, but keep an eye on Mr. Brown as we head into Training Camp 2018.