Less than half of the teams in the NFL are holding training camp away from their facility in 2014. But the Raiders continued their annual tradition of training camp in Napa, Calif. This year, the players are spending three weeks together to prepare for the regular season.
In addition to limiting distractions, working off site for camp provides a sense of camaraderie and allows the players an opportunity to better bond with teammates.
While at camp, they eat meals together, go to practice together, and then spend their free time in their rooms with their camp roommate.
The players have been in camp for almost two weeks, so we asked two sets of veteran roommates, Darren McFadden and Marcel Reece, and Tyvon Branch and Taiwan Jones how things are going so far with their bunkmate.
RB Darren McFadden
Q: How is it rooming with Marcel at camp?
McFadden:"Man, it's been three or four years [rooming with Marcel]. I don't even remember [laughing]. It's always a joy being able to room with Marcel. I tell people that we're like brothers. We came in together our rookie year and we just have a great bond together. Being able to room with someone that you have a bond with like that is just a great thing."
Q: Does rooming with Marcel make camp go by faster?
McFadden:"Oh yeah, it flies by when you're in there and able to have a good time with somebody. We sit there and talk; we can talk about pretty much anything. Just being there with a guy like that is always a joy."
Q: What's something about Marcel that people don't know?
McFadden:""If you listen to him sleep, he's snoring [laughing]. It sounds like he's talking in his sleep."
FB Marcel Reece
Q: So how is it living with Darren?
Reece:"It's definitely fun, man. We have a good time, but at the same time we learn a lot from each other, about football, about life, everything. It's always a good time between the two of us."
Q: You guys are in meetings and at practice all day, so what do you do when you're just hanging out in the room?
Reece:"You know what man, we just relax. We just relax and kick it. We try to watch some funny TV shows, something relaxing to get our mind off of something. We've been using Netflix a lot lately; we're not watching anything too serious right now. Last year we were big on Naked and Afraid and Duck Dynasty, but this year we haven't gotten a good rotation yet. There are a couple of movies that we're trying to check out, but we'll see."
Q: Who's the bigger jokester between you and Darren?
Reece:"Man, it just depends on what day it is and what's happening. The best jokes are when we collaborate together and get Tyvon [Branch] and Taiwan [Jones]; those are the best jokes."
S Tyvon Branch and CB Taiwan Jones
Q: Is this the first year you guys have lived together?
Jones:"It's the second. We're pretty cool, man. He's like my brother. It's always fun and games with this dude."
Branch:"Yeah, this dude stays keeping me up, jumping around and stuff [laughing]."
Jones:"It could be about nothing and we'll just be in the room laughing."
Q: So who has the best jokes between the two of you?
Branch:"I think Taiwan. "
Jones:"It's him, hands down. I tell him every day he has to grow up [laughing]."
Q: What do you guys do together when you're not at practice?
Branch:"You know, it always starts out good, like 'Let's go over this playbook,' so we'll break down a couple of plays and then we'll watch some stuff on film, but it always turns into some type of joke and then it never stops after that. We'll just go on joking for about an hour."
Q: What's the best joke you guys have had since we got to camp?
Jones:"That's hard to say. It's just nonstop. That's the thing, it could be something so stupid, and he'll just be laughing."
Branch:"Today he laughed at me for like 20 minutes because he woke up and I was brushing my hair."
Jones:"I'm asleep and all I can hear is 'shh,' 'shh,' 'shh,' and I didn't know what was going on, and I look up and he's standing in the mirror brushing his hair. If you look at his head you couldn't tell [laughing]. It's just stuff like that, man."