Training Camp Notebook: Amidst Several Absences, Oakland Raiders Enjoy Strong First Practice

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Tight End Jared Cook

Before he was asked the very first question at his first press conference of Training Camp 2017, Head Coach Jack Del Rio stood at the podium and discussed the players who were *not *on the field Saturday afternoon at the Oakland Raiders Napa Valley Training Complex.

After signing first-round draft pick cornerback Gareon Conley Friday night, the former Ohio State Buckeye was placed on the active/physically unable to perform list, along with offensive lineman Jon Feliciano, and defensive lineman Jihad Ward Saturday morning.

"The way we work with injuries, is each guy has a little something they're dealing with," said Head Coach Del Rio. "They're working hard with our trainers to get back, and when they're ready go, we'll get them out there, and when we get the green light as coaches, we'll work with them. In the meantime they'll be involved in meetings, and doing everything they can to get themselves back."

In addition to the trio of players that were placed on the active/physically unable to perform list, the team announced Saturday that defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr., and linebacker Bruce Irvin would begin the season on the active/non-football injury list.

All five players count against the team's 90-man roster, which is not the case for starting left tackle Donald Penn, who was placed on the reserve/did not report list on Saturday as well.

Penn has been a consistent presence on the left side of the Raiders line since joining the Silver and Black in 2014, but as it stands now, he is currently not in Napa with the rest of his teammates.

"I found out yesterday morning," Del Rio said when asked about Penn's decision to not report. "My thought on that is that we love Donald. He's a good Raider, good player, and what's important for us is to focus on the work here, and the guys that are here, and that's how we're going to approach it. There's a business side. There's a time for pay and a time for play, and once we get to camp, my focus has to be for our team on just growing, and going forward, and obviously we love Donald, we'd love to have him, and hopefully that gets resolved shortly."

When asked about Penn's situation, Carr gave a similar response, saying that while he loved Penn as a player and as a teammate, it wasn't his role to talk about the veteran tackle's business decisions.

"I'll never put my hand in another man's pocket, so I'll stay far away from that," Carr explained. "Everyone here, top to bottom here, loves him [Penn]. He knows that, but we're just focused on who's here and getting better. He knows how everybody feels about him, but I'll never step into another man's situation like that."

As the Raiders took the field for the first time as a group at training camp, it's ironic that some of the focus was on those not in attendance, but Del Rio doesn't anticipate the multiple absences being a distraction for his team going forward.

"I don't think we need to worry about anything other than going to work every day," he explained. "The season is a long season, there are ups and downs, there are injuries, there are sometimes issues like contract disagreements and things like that, but for me, and for us, we want to be about, just be purposeful, come to work every day, and express ourselves, and be passionate about getting better."

Notable:

-Saturdays are for… transactions? Not only did the team announce the five designations for the players mentioned earlier, but they also claimed running back George Atkinson III via waivers from the Cleveland Browns as well. Atkinson III – the son of Raiders legend George Atkinson, Jr. – has spent parts of the past three seasons with the Silver and Black.

-Running back Marshawn Lynch was a full participant in Saturday's training camp opener, much to the delight of the assembled fans who watched practice. It was a family affair as well, as Lynch's mother was in Napa to watch practice too. "Momma Lynch" spent a little time chatting with Owner Mark Davis and General Manager Reggie McKenzie in addition to watching her son go to work on the field.

  • Over 100 Raiders alumni were also on the sidelines Saturday afternoon, coming together to participate in the organizations third annual Alumni Weekend.

-The Raiders signed tight end Jared Cook this offseason to give Derek Carr yet another dynamic weapon on offense, and so far No. 4 seems to be getting along swimmingly with the new addition. During one of the team's seven-on-seven periods, Carr went to Cook on back-to-back passes, with the big tight end hauling in both for sizable gains.

-Rookie defensive end Fadol Brown made sure he got noticed Saturday, sticking up a hand, and batting down a pass at the line of scrimmage. The undrafted free agent certainly has NFL size, so it'll be interesting to see how he fares throughout training camp and the preseason.

-Kenneth Durden enjoyed a strong pre camp, and he kept that positive momentum flowing Saturday, as he made an impressive pass breakup on a ball intended for rookie wide receiver Ishmael Zamora.

-Not to be outdone, cornerback Breon Borders also got in the mix, very nearly coming down with an impressive interception during the team's final 11-on-11 period of the afternoon.

Oakland Raiders players and coaches on the field for the first official day of training camp.

The Lighter Side:

Offensive Coordinator Todd Downing showed he can still turn on the jets when he has to; in between drills, Downing sprinted from one end of the field to the other, much to the delight of Raider Nation, who gave him a big ovation when he reached the finish line.

Song Of The Day:

"Enter Sandman" - Metallica (a Coach Del Rio favorite).

Quotable:

"When I think about Marshawn, I think of passion, because he's a very passionate player, and I think of toughness and physicality. I think he brings those things to our football team. He's been a terrific teammate, been great from Day One."

-Head Coach Jack Del Rio

Tweet Of The Day:

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