Raiders Head Coach Hue Jackson addresses the team after Sunday's practice. Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Raiders participated in their fourth practice of the 2011 Training Camp in Napa, Calif. The team practiced in shorts and shells and continued their competitive, fast-paced effort out on the field. Although only a few days into camp, the players and Head Coach Hue Jackson feel like the team is consistently improving.
"This football team is progressing," said Coach Jackson. "I cannot say enough about the intent, on how we go out there with a purpose every day to get better. It is something we talk about at night and it is something I have addressed."
FS Michael Huff, who returned to the Raiders today, watched practice and saw the intensity Coach Jackson brings out in the players. "I love Hue; he's a fiery, intense guy," said Huff. "He's over there talking trash every day. No matter how you come to practice, he's going to get it out of you. I think that's what we need, especially with some of our young secondary back there. They've got to work so I'm looking forward to it."
Veterans, LB Kamerion Wimbley and CB Chris Johnson, see the improvement from the team each practice. "I think that you can see steps every day and guys continue to improve every day and continue to study and learn and it helps us to be faster on the field," said Wimbley.
"The team is just growing real well together," said Johnson. "I feel that throughout these next few weeks the team is going to be a lot closer. Hue's mentality is building the bully, and if we can build that mentality, I think that we are going to be strong as a unit."
Some of the younger players have also noticed the progression the team has made over the first four days. "As a whole, you can see the offense coming together," said TE Kevin Brock. "Everybody is playing more confident, just learning the scheme each day. It's a lot of stuff to put in all at once, but I feel like we're having a good grasp of it and we're moving along pretty good."
Rookie undrafted free agent DB Sterling Moore feels good about where the team is headed. "I think the team has improved just by competing," said Moore. "I mean, when the pads come on, it's time to go. I think the intensity level has come up a lot from the first couple of days. Guys are knowing the playbooks better and everything is happening a lot faster so it's starting to be more like game situations."
Moore has also noticed personal growth. "I know the playbook better so I can go out there and compete," said Moore. "I'm going out there and doing everything I can to make the team. I'm trying to play fast and physical."
Players are trying to translate what they're learning in their meetings and from coaches onto the field. "I feel like I've been trying to get the little things down and just improve a little bit each day on the things I need to correct from the day before," said Brock.
As the team moves toward the first preseason game, Coach Jackson is happy with what he's seeing. "I see a very competitive group of men who are competing as hard as they can at their skill, getting better, and starting to recognize all the things that I truly believe it takes to win football games," said Coach Jackson. "That's what the Raiders are about and that is what our owner is about. Commitment to Excellence, pride and poise is what the Raiders stand for and that's what we want to get back to."