On the last day of practices before the first preseason game, The Oakland Raiders took the field for the 20th and 21st sessions of Training Camp 2010. The team continued to work on strategy for Thursday's game in Dallas, adding in more short yardage and punt return action. Players worked on executing plays as a cohesive unit. As the team gets ready for the season, the players who have experienced training camp for many years look to help the rookies and young players adapt and prepare for the first game.
The veterans each have their own way of aiding the rookies in their preparation for the season. QB Bruce Gradkowski says his strength is helping the rookies with their playbook study. "The thing I can help them with the most is the playbook and helping them out with the study, how to study and telling them the importance of how to make the team, [and] what's important," said Gradkowski. "That's first off knowing what you're supposed to do out there. I think that's the key and that's what I try to stress to the young kids."
Eight-year veteran CB Nnamdi Asomugha helps the young players by being a source of information and advice. "I try to sit down and talk to them as much as possible and I try to open myself up to them to just let them know what to expect," he explained. "To let them know that there are going to be tough times at some point. It may not be the first game [and] it may not be the second. It may be all the way at the end of the season, but [I let] them know that they have someone they can speak to and lean on that's been there."
After four years as a professional, TE Zach Miller is also able to help the rookies prepare for the season. "I think a lot of it is showing them by example [and] how to handle your business during camp," Miller said. Miller has proven he can lead by example with his superior route running, catches and hard work during camp. Miller also allows himself to be available to the newcomers for any questions. "It's being there and being helpful," Miller explained.
The veterans use their years of knowledge and skills to bring the rookies up to speed. Players such as Gradkowski, Asomugha, and Miller remember what it was like to be the rookie. Now, many years into their careers, the veterans find training camp much easier to get through. "It's not as hard," said Asomugha. "When I first came in it was a big mental struggle and a physical struggle because I was brand new. But now it's less of a mental struggle because I know what to expect. And when it's less mentally, it's less physically because you understand how to take care of your body. It's much better now than it was rookie year and it always gets better."
For Gradkowski, camp has been easier because of the comfort level with his teammates and knowing the structure of training camp. "Being with the same team for a couple years, it helps out. Just really knowing how things work is really the main key," said Gradkowski. Miller agreed with his quarterback explaining that "it definitely gets easier once you know the routine. You know how to take care of your body and it gets easier every year."
With the veterans helping the rookies acclimate and get up to speed, The Oakland Raiders are working together to become a cohesive unit on and off the field. As camp continues, the experienced players can display their knowledge (mentally and physically) to help the rookies progress and reach their potential.
The Raiders travel to Dallas tomorrow and can be seen in action against the Dallas Cowboys Thursday evening at 6:00 p.m. on TV36.