The home field for a pair of Napa Valley high schools belonged to the Oakland Raiders Saturday afternoon, as Head Coach Jon Gruden and the Silver and Black descended upon Memorial Stadium for the second practice of Training Camp 2018.
In front of approximately 6,000 season tickets members, and over 100 Raiders alumni ranging from Daryle Lamonica, to Jim Plunkett and Akbar Gbajbiamila, the Silver and Black went through their usual day of work, albeit at a different location than their usual training camp home.
After Friday's session squarely belonged to the defense, Derek Carr and the offense bounced back nicely on Saturday, looking a little more in rhythm, and finding ways to effectively move the ball up and down the field.
As much as the conversation surrounding the Raiders' offense centers around Carr, Amari Cooper, Jordy Nelson and the rest of the receivers, let's not forget about the pair of rookie tackles the team selected in this year's NFL Draft, Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker.
"Real excited about both those two guys," said Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson. "They've made tremendous strides from when they got here, though OTAs [Organized Team Activities], and the June minicamp, and both of them had a good summer, and we're throwing into the mix right now. We're kind of rolling those guys, obviously, Kolton is playing with the starting group on every period that we have, and we're rolling Brandon in there as well, but they both look really solid."
The former UCLA Bruin is indeed running with the first team for the time being, and with Donald Penn on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list still, it looks like he'll continue getting reps with that starting unit.
Kelechi Osemele, who has been working with Miller on that starting unit, has been impressed with what he's seen so far from the first-round draft pick.
"Kolton looks real good right now," Osemele explained. "We still have a lot of work to do, you know? It's our first time working together, so just knocking the rust off on double teams and stuff like that. Making sure we're going the right way. You know, just the little things rookies go through. Physically his development, his understanding of our play-calling, the game, our scheme, he's way ahead of where I would've been at this point of training camp my rookie year."
Standing at 6'8" and tipping the scales at over 300 pounds, Osemele has understandably taken note of the rookie's physical abilities, but he was also sure to note that the next step for the young fella is harnessing and developing the skills to coincide with that athleticism.
"He's such a big dude, it takes you by surprise," Osemele said. "He's really athletic. I don't think that's ever going to be a case with him getting beat, just someone running around him or anything like that. With a guy like that it's going to be him working on his anchor. Just being in the weight room and getting stronger and stuff like that. As far as the framework of being an elite left tackle, he has the tools there. I really just think it's up to us to get him where he needs to be."
The Raiders boast one of the best offensive lines in the game, and we all know that depth is paramount to success in the NFL, so getting both Miller and Parker up to speed will be one of the storylines to keep an eye on over the next several weeks.
No real updates here today. P.J. Hall, Donald Penn, and Eddie Vanderdoes all remain on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list. One quite note though, cornerback Gareon Conley was unable to hit the practice field Saturday.
Raider Nation fills Memorial Stadium in Napa, CA eager to see the 2018 Raiders go to work.
-The Silver and Black placed Vadal Alexander and Khalil Mack on the Reserve/Did Not Report list Friday afternoon, and with neither of them counting towards the 90-man roster, the Raiders were sitting at 88 players. Well, that number increased to 89 Saturday morning, as the team signed veteran lineman Oday Aboushi.
-Like we said earlier, with 6,000 diehard members of Raider Nation, along with over 100 Raiders alumni, it certainly didn't feel like a normal training camp practice. Throw in the music blaring over the loudspeakers, and the energy of the fans, and it was a full-on celebration this morning at Memorial Stadium.
-The second day of practice was a little crisper for the Raiders, across the board. I don't think anyone expected the Silver and Black to be running like a well-oiled machine straight out of the gates, but it was good to see a definite improvement from Day 1 to Day 2.
-Doug Martin flashed a few times during practice Saturday. While we won't get a full idea of what No. 28 brings to the table just yet – tomorrow is the first day of pads by the way – since he's put on the Silver and Black, the former Boise State Bronco has indeed looked good. I'm excited to see if he can keep that positive momentum rolling.
-The play of the day belonged to Derek Carr. During a seven-on-seven session, Carr bought time, rolled to his right, then eventually fired a strike to Martavis Bryant. I have a feeling that's going to be a connection we see a lot of in 2018.
-Shout-out to cornerback Antonio Hamilton who had a pair of really nice plays during Saturday's session. Not only did he nearly come away with an interception, he also had an impressive pass defensed as well.
"It's truly an open competition. We've explained that to the quarterbacks. We sat all three of them down and let them know how we're going to rotate the reps here throughout camp and that will be a big area for us to evaluate throughout camp and find that number two quarterback. Right now, it's an open competition with those guys." – Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson discussing the situation at backup quarterback.
The Lighter Side:
After the team stretched, Derek Carr and Rodney Hudson – along with a few of their defensive teammates – ran down the sidelines urging the assembled crowd to make some noise. It might have only been a non-padded practice in July, but the energy was certainly more akin to an even bigger event.
Sunday is the first padded practice of training camp.
Buckle up, tomorrow's one of the days you need to have circled on your calendar.