Through four days of Training Camp 2016, the players on the Oakland Raiders aren't the only ones more comfortable than they were 12 months ago.
Head Coach Jack Del Rio and his staff are also in the early throes of their second training camp together, and that comfort and continuity between members of the coaching staff is equally as important as the comfort of the players executing their scheme.
"I don't think there's any question that everybody is more familiar with what's expected of them," said defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. "I think anytime you're in year two, they understand the concepts, understand the defensive scheme a whole lot better. At the same time, we have a lot of good football players. We've assembled some really good football players, created a lot of competition. We're really excited about what we can do."
Head Coach Jack Del Rio was quick to agree with his defensive coordinator, saying that the increased level of comfort is natural as the staff begins their second season together.
"Obviously, your second year, whether it's offense, defense, or special teams, I think in all three phrases as a returning staff, with the core of players that are returning, I think there's a certain amount of carryover that you can expect," Del Rio said. "Where you feel like you can do things, and sharpen them up and do them even better. A little clarity in terms of what I'm looking for, and as a staff, what we're looking for. I think with that, you should expect to see improvement."
With four days of field work now behind them, the Raiders will have Tuesday off before returning to work Wednesday afternoon back at the team's Napa Valley Training Complex, and while the team is still 11 days out from their first preseason game, Del Rio has been pleased with what he's seen from the team thus far.
"We know there's a lot of work ahead of us," Del Rio said. "This is four days into training camp, but I feel like we had four really good days that are behind us, and now we get a little bit of a break, and then we'll be back at it next week, and have a big week."
-After missing Sunday's on-field session, both rookie quarterback Connor Cook and veteran guard Kelechi Osemele were back to work Monday afternoon.
-The Silver and Black had perfect attendance for Monday's practice -- however, after suffering an injury, cornerback SaQwan Edwards was unable to finish the day. Although, after going down to the ground, he was able to eventually walk off the field under his own power.
-The team's second day of padded practice proved to be a tad chippier than the first. While there were no major skirmishes to report, running back Taiwan Jones and Bruce Irvin did mix it up after the whistle during one of the team drills, as well as cornerback Kenneth Durden and wide receiver Johnny Holton in another instance. While things were more physical on Monday, Del Rio was pleased with the way the team handed business.
"We're looking to practice like we play, so we're looking to have self-control," Del Rio said. "I think for the most part we have. The guys are doing a pretty good job of taking care of business. I think for the most part it's been minimal."
-Linebacker Neiron Ball put together a quality day of work Monday. Not only did he have a pass defensed while dropping back into coverage, but he also was constantly around the football while the team was working on their run game drills.
-In addition to the season ticket members who watched Monday's practice, the Raiders also welcomed NHRA Top Fuel Driver Leah Pritchett. Pritchett watched practice, then met Head Coach Jack Del Rio and a few players following the end of the day's session. As a top athlete herself, Pritchett said that her goals and the goals of the Raiders are actually quite similar.
"Winning," Pritchett said. "At the end of the day winning, that's what I look for, and that's what I do it for, and I know it's what those guys do it for."
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