The final stretch of Training Camp 2018 started on a high note for Gareon Conley.
After being relegated to watching from the team's workout area for much of the past several weeks, the Oakland Raiders' second-year cornerback made his return to the practice field Monday morning, the team's first day back at work following their preseason opener against the Detroit Lions.
"It's great to see Gareon out there," said Head Coach Jon Gruden after practice. "He healed quicker than anybody expected, so credit to him and our training staff. We need him to get some work."
And the former Ohio State Buckeye did just that, going about his business in the Raiders' three-hour, padded practice, albeit in a limited capacity.
Conley's much-anticipated return to the field came at a good time for the Silver and Black. With three-and-a-half weeks left before the regular season opener against the Los Angeles Rams, the athletic defensive back has more time to get his playing legs back under him, while also getting a chance to gel with Rashaan Melvin and the rest of the Raiders' secondary.
The second-year man still has a ways to go in terms of being ready for gameday, but Coach Gruden was pleased with what he saw Monday morning.
"Pretty good," Gruden said when asked about Conley's first day back. "I was surprised. He had the full pads on, honestly, we limited him. We'll give him more and more here each day as he gains some confidence being back out on the field with pads on. It's his first padded practice, by the way."
And while the Raiders' got one corner back in the mix Monday, they ended up losing one towards the end of the day as well after Daryl Worley collided with Rashaan Melvin, forcing No. 36 to cut his day short.
"That happens in football," Gruden said of the collision. "We're hoping everybody's alright. I'll have an update later, but obviously, Daryl left practice."
While Conley's return to action was understandably the headliner of Monday's practice, he wasn't the only Raider to get back to work, as both Arden Key and Brandon Parker returned to work too.
Like Conley, neither of the rookies appeared in Friday night's win over the Lions, but I'll be interested to see if either of them straps the pads on against the Los Angeles Rams Saturday afternoon.
As far as Conley is concerned, while it remains to be seen whether or not he makes his preseason debut this weekend, getting back on the practice field is a great first step.
You already know about the return of Conley, Parker, and Key, and truthfully that's really the big update from today, as far as injuries are concerned, but per usual, there were a handful of Raiders who didn't get to work Monday morning.
Both Donald Penn and Eddie Vanderdoes remain on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list; joining them as spectators for practice were Pharaoh Brown, Seth Roberts, Marcus Gilchrist, and Obi Melifonwu.
When asked about a timeline regarding the injured Raiders, Gruden said he'd relay that information when it became available.
-Spirits were high as the Silver and Black got back to work Monday morning, in fact, Jared Cook was having such a good time on the field, we heard him singing a few lines of Kanye West's "Good Life."
-Each year, the Raiders' invite a group of folks from a neighboring senior living facility to take in practice, and today was one of those days. Definitely a cool deal, and another way the team really does a good job of involving the Napa community during their month-long stay in Wine Country.
-Dwayne Harris looked sharp during the one-on-one session of practice, gaining nice separation from a DB before hauling in a pass. We didn't see the veteran wide receiver Friday night against the Lions, so I'll be interested to see if he makes his Raiders debut this weekend in Los Angeles.
-Derek Carr picked up right where he left off last week, connecting on a sharp, deep ball to Jordy Nelson during one of the team's 11-on-11 sessions. Carr played just one series on Friday, and while I don't think we'll see a ton of him against the Rams, I would expect to see him carry a bit of a heavier workload.
-After going 3/3 in his preseason debut Friday night, rookie kicker Eddy Piñeiro ceded many of the kicking responsibilities to Mike Nugent during Monday's session. Nugent went 5/6 while kicking against live competition.
-D.C. had the hard count working Monday morning. When the team was going 11-on-11, No. 4 got the defense to bite not once, but twice, drawing a lineman offsides. We don't really talk about Carr and the hard count all that much, but it's certainly a nice tool to have in his toolbox.
"Both of them have been really good. It's hard. They're standing there and if you can just imagine, you never know who is going to get called and when. You're just basically watching practice, trying to keep your mind in it. You never know if it's going to be Cook or Manuel. You never know how much you're going to get to play and how long you're going to get to play. That's the part of being the backup quarterback. You get called upon in short notice and you have to perform. We're still figuring out who's the No. 2 quarterback." -Coach Gruden discussing the battle to be the No. 2 quarterback on the roster.
The Lighter Side:
Once again, the Raiders had a DJ performing during Monday practice, and as the man on the turntables put on AC/DC's "Back In Black," Coach Gruden happened to be running by. He turned to the DJ and yelled, "hey, that's a good song right there," before getting back to work.
Man, we're almost at the end of training camp.
The Silver and Black will return to the field Tuesday morning, then once again Wednesday afternoon before wrapping up in Napa on Thursday.