Two days before their first preseason game, the Oakland Raiders were at their Napa Valley training complex fine tuning different things for Thursday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. Head Coach Tom Cable met with the media after morning practice and talked about the progress of the team.
"Good situations today with blitz and moving the ball. Some first and second down mix stuff that was really good. We were a little lethargic but we'll see if we can juice things up this afternoon. That's just fatigue. That's normal," Coach Cable explained.
One player in particular that Coach Cable is impressed with first year linebacker Slade Norris. With Jon Alston out with a foot injury, Norris will get plenty of opportunities to shine on Thursday.
"He's a guy, that when you talk about places we're really focused on I mentioned linebacker, he's probably the biggest reason why I mentioned that. Just seeing how far he's come, where his deficiencies are but as he gets in the game it won't bother him," Cable said.
Norris, a fourth round pick from Oregon State, is quickly making the adjustment from defensive end, what he played in college, to SAM linebacker in the Raiders defense.
"I just want to come out and show the world what I can do. I played defensive end in college so nobody really knows how I will translate as a linebacker. I have a lot of confidence in myself that I can do that," Norris said.
A few Raiders veterans have helped Norris with the adjustment to linebacker.
"It's been great. I love having Kirk (Morrison) and Thomas (Howard) out there because they are able to help me out a lot just with my assignments and such but also just giving me the opportunity to work against the ones. We have a bunch of good players in the offense so it helps my game," Norris stated.
Thomas Howard also sees a lot of good things from the rookie.
"Our rookies are in the books. They are still learning football, but they have good effort and good energy. Those two things you can't teach are effort and energy, and Slade brings that to every practice. He is still learning as a rookie, but he has great effort. He is in the books studying, so he is getting better, but we are all getting better," Howard said.
Howard added that he is excited for the season to start and to finally hit someone on another team.
On Thursday, those hits will be against the Dallas Cowboys as the Raiders play in their first preseason game of the season.
Check out http://www.raiders.com/ for live updates.