For the second straight afternoon, the Oakland Raiders practiced in front of their fans and for the third straight session, the team practiced in pads. The hitting and intensity have picked up each day the Raiders have taken the practice field during training camp.
Most of the same names that have been held out of practice the first four days were again on the self for day five. Linebacker Aaron Curry (knee) cornerback Ron Bartell (hamstring), punter Shane Lechler (knee), nose tackle Travis Ivey (conditioning), Denarius Moore (hamstring), and tight end Richard Gordon (hip) and a lower leg infection. Also not participating in practice today was wide receiver Eddie McGee (hamstring), who started off the first day of camp with a great practice.
“It’s a safety issue as much as it is anything else,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said of Travis Ivey being held out. “I want to make sure that he’s healthy, in shape, conditioned, and his weight’s where it needs to be so that if and when he does get out here to start practicing he doesn’t injure himself.”
The wide receiver position continues to be a strength for the Raiders and it has been on display throughout training camp, especially Jacoby Ford, Juron Criner, and Rod Streater. Ford has displayed his speed, ability to get behind the defense, and his catching ability. He has made several nice grabs during practices. After not getting too much work on day one, Criner has emerged and earned more reps each day. He is showing the ability the team saw in him before the draft. Rod Streater has carried his OTA performance over to training camp, including a diving catch on an inaccurate ball from Terrelle Pryor today.
On the defensive side of the ball, middle linebacker Rolando McClain is improving each day and showing more aggressiveness as the practices go forward. DeMarcus Van Dyke has been a standout as well as rookie outside linebacker Miles Burris, who is showing development. Cornerback Shawntae Spencer had a better day today after struggling in the first few days of camp.
“I think he’s been a little up and down in camp,” Allen said of Spencer. “We’re going to continue to push him and see where he’s at. I’m not pushing the panic button on him yet, but obviously with all these guys, we want to continue to see some improvement.”
Running backs Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones are making the most of their opportunities. Both players show great speed and explosiveness as well as the ability to break long runs. Jones is taking the second team reps right now, but both look like contributors, especially given the fact they can play on special teams. Goodson was working on the punt team, while Jones was given reps at kickoff returner.
“We’re looking for as many good players as we can find,” Allen said of the running backs position behind Darren McFadden. “Right now we have a couple options behind him that can do some different things. All those guys are explosive in space and that’s what I really like about all those guys.”
The Raiders offensive line has stayed the same everyday throughout camp. Jared Veldeer was at left tackle, Cooper Carlisle at left guard, Stefen Wisniewski at center, Mike Brisiel at right guard, and Khalif Barnes at right tackle. Rookie Tony Bergstrom is working on the second team at both guard spots and second year man Joseph Barksdale is working at both tackle positions on the same team.
“I think the evaluation process takes time,” Allen said of the offensive line. “I am not going to set a time table as to when we work guys in. I think whenever we as a staff sit down and think we have seen enough to warrant somebody stepping in and getting some of those reps, then we will make those adjustments.”
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