QB Trent Edwards sets for the play.Photo by Tony Gonzales.
The Raiders returned to the field after a day off and upped the intensity of practice as they prepare to take on the San Francisco 49ers this Saturday at Candlestick. The Battle of the Bay, although only preseason this year, is a chance for Bay Area bragging rights. After falling in both the preseason and regular season last year, the Raiders are working towards bringing home a win to Raider Nation.
This will be LB Sam Williams ninth year of playing in the Battle of the Bay and he understands its significance. "The Battle of the Bay is big, especially for me growing up in the Bay Area," said Williams. "It means a lot because you have to represent for the Raider Nation no matter what."
The Raiders new addition at safety, Matt Giordano, played at University of California, Berkeley, so he understands both football versions of Battle of the Bay. "I know it's just a good rivalry," said Giordano. "I know there a lot of things at stake when it comes to this game, a lot of bragging rights. It's Stanford-Cal, but now it's the next level of it. It's East Bay versus San Francisco and so it's going to be a fun game."
QB Trent Edwards, a Bay Area native and a Stanford grad, has been following the Battle of the Bay for his entire life. "I've been gone a little while during the season where I was in Buffalo for three years and Jacksonville for a year, but I usually tried to keep up with the Niners and the Raiders when I was out of town," said Edwards. "Now, being back in, being on the Raiders, the rivalry is still there with the preseason. I was talking to our equipment manager and he was kind of getting fired up about the game on Saturday. And he's like, 'we've got to take back the bay.' And I said, 'Did we lose both games to the Niners last year?' He said, 'The preseason and the regular season.' So I said, 'Well yeah, you're exactly right.' We need to be ready to go on Saturday. I know Coach Jackson will get us ready to go and being back here, experiencing it for the first time, is definitely something I'm ready for on Saturday."
The team has noticed a shift in attitude at the Napa Valley Training Complex. "Oh yea, things are more serious," said Giordano. "Not that camp isn't serious all the time, but there's just a little more attention to detail and so it's going to be a fun game. I think there's going to be a lot of intensity out there and should be fun to watch."
Head Coach Hue Jackson is preparing his team to face the 49ers. "I'm looking forward to the next opponent," said Coach Jackson. "We just lost and we're ready for the next team we're going to play. We're ready to put this team back out there to get better and make the next jump. I think our guys will be ready to perform."
Coach Jackson wants to win this weekend's game, but he is looking for much more than just the "W." "Improvement from the coaches and players," said Coach Jackson. "Again, I expect us to be a very dominant defense and I want to see our defense play that way. I expect us to be an offense that can execute at a high level. I expect this team to start taking the next step. We need to improve in all areas. I need to improve coaching. We need to improve playing. We need to improve just the mechanics of playing the game and how we go about preparing and I think we are well on our way to doing that."
The Battle of the Bay may not hold significance in the standings at the end of the season, but the importance is not lost on the Raiders. "People know how serious it is because the Raider Nation is close to us and we know how much it means to them and we know how much it means to us," said Williams. "It's a pride thing. We want to run the Bay."
The Raiders practice again tomorrow afternoon and will face the 49ers at Candlestick Park on Saturday, August 20 at 5:00 p.m. PT. Log on to Raiders.com, Facebook, and Twitter for complete coverage.