Practice summary: When coach Dennis Allen said his Raiders didn’t have a go-to wide receiver “yet,” his words were clearly aimed at Denarius Moore. The Raiders’ most productive and most talented wideout took offense to Allen’s claim, and on Thursday afternoon showed why he’s the team’s best receiver.
He made a series of terrific receptions in situations where Allen said Moore was deficient. He made catches in traffic. He made catches in the air and while being double covered. The effort earned praise from Allen, who said Moore “clearly responded to the challenge.”
Allen also praised Tony Bergstrom’s work at left guard. He’s made solid use of the extra first-team reps given to him with Lance Nix went down with a knee injury.
With Alex Parsons out with a left foot injury, Andre Gurode took snaps as the second-team center and fared well. He went to five straight Pro Bowls at center for the Dallas Cowboys.
The Raiders secondary is clearly their strongest unit. They’ve shown serious depth at safety and corner, with rookie DJ Hayden and safety Usama Young, who has the talent to start but is stuck behind Charles Woodson on the depth chart.
Offensive play of the day: Moore made several acrobatic catches, but one late in practice was his best. He rose above double coverage from Young and cornerback Tracy Porter, plucked Matt Flynn’s pass out of the air and reeled it in for a big gain.
Defensive play of the day: Young forced a turnover with one well-timed punch. Young got under fullback Jamize Olawale’s grasp, stripped the ball and recovered his own forced fumble.
Rookie report: TE Mychal Rivera showed real improvement in his best practice of training camp. He’s clearly a receiving threat, a point proven with several big catches in Thursday’s practice. He’s become a contender for playing time at a position with unproven talent. DE David Bass has shown potential as a pass rusher, but isn’t a well-rounded player at this point. He could be helpful on passing downs if given the opportunity.
Staying at center: Center Stefen Wisniewski played left guard during his rookie season, but Allen essentially ruled out a possible position switch back to guard. The Raiders are thin at guard, with the unproven Tony Bergstrom taking first-team reps. Allen said his star center would stay put, as opposed to rescuing the team at another position. That suits Wisniewski just fine. He said last week he prefers to play center.
Tight competition at TE: Allen said the position battle at tight end has heated up, with combatants playing well at the same time. He singled out Rivera for improved play and said that David Ausberry, a converted receiver, has improved his blocking skills. Richard Gordon is also in this fight, although he’s more one-dimensional as a blocker.
On the sideline: The Raiders finally got some good news on the injury front. Allen said WR Jacoby Ford should return soon. He should be back by week’s end, an important step for a player who missed most of the last two seasons with foot ailments. Allen also said LG Lucas Nix (knee) and DT Stacy McGee shouldn’t be out much longer. … The listed of sidelined Raiders remains long. In addition to the aforementioned names, LB Miles Burris (knee), DT Pat Sims, OT Menelik Watson, DB Brandian Ross, LB Kaluka Maiava, DL Brandon Bair, C Alex Parsons (foot), DT Johnny Jones, LB Billy Boyko and RB Latavius Murray did not practice. … DT Vance Walker returned to practice after missing four sessions. … Allen said Watson and Sims won’t be returning soon but their injuries are not season-threatening. … DE Lamarr Houston could not finish practice due to injury.
Quote of the day: “That’s in the works. Maybe .5 percent ownership in his winery, or something like that. Honestly, it’s all good." – Raiders cornerback Tracy Porter, on what he’ll get for having his No. 24 given to Charles Woodson