Thursday morning's practice marked the first live tackling at Training Camp 2010 for the Oakland Raiders. The players had their first chance to finish blocks and tackles, an opportunity that they all seemed to relish. The Oakland Raiders brought in NFL referees as well to monitor the session for the first time during this training camp.
As the Raiders took the field for their practices, the level of intensity reached a new peak as the players got the chance to "play real football," according to LB Slade Norris. "It was fun. We are football players, and once the pads come on and we get to see plays to the end, it really lets us compete," said Norris.
Up until these last two practices, players had been forced to restrain themselves once the initial contact had been made. But many of the players agree with the mantra of 'going through practice like you would in a game,' and enjoy finishing their plays to the ground.
DT Desmond Bryant feels that he can only improve when playing the game at full speed. "It's good to finally get back to full hitting. The intensity has already been there but the live hitting takes that intensity to a whole new level. Practicing at a fast tempo helps us get better," Bryant said.
The Oakland Raiders are focused on competing at a high level this upcoming season, and their performance in practice signifies the fire and competitive nature. "We are all competitive guys. Once we put those pads on, you look across at blank faces and its game time." explained Norris.
Veteran LB Sam Williams liked the physicality that the defense put on display today. "It was great out there today. When we get the chance to go 100 percent, players will play more physical, like we need to on the field, especially against the run," Williams said. The Raiders will continue to mix in "live" sessions with monitored contact sessions, focusing on the players getting the experience needed for game time situations, but at the same time making sure the players maintain their health.
The Raiders will be back on the field for one practice session on Friday as Training Camp 2010 continues.