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Practice summary: The Raiders have a day off on Wednesday, that proved to be well-timed. Injuries have mounted following three straight days of practice in pads, and a break from contact will be welcomed.
The Raiders have 13 injured players after five practices, a byproduct of coach Dennis Allen’s desire to turn his Raiders into a physical unit. Physicality prevailed in the trenches on Tuesday, a gritty practice where victories were largely balanced.
The Raiders secondary was Tuesday’s standout unit. Allen praised the mix of youth and experience for their knowledge of the system and their ability to cover well in most situations. First-year defensive back Cory Nelms, a practice-squad player with the 49ers last season, has emerged as a player to watch this preseason. Whether he plays cornerback or safety, Nelms consistently makes big plays.
Receiver play improved for the second straight day, but Allen said he’s still waiting for a No. 1 receiver to emerge. Odds are Rod Streater or Denarius Moore will take that title, but neither player has earned it yet.
Tony Bergrstrom took the first-team reps at left guard and continues to play well with that unit.
[RELATED: When Nix goes down, Bergstrom steps up]
Kevin Burnett has taken a firm grip on the weakside linebacker spot with solid all-around play. He’s at his best in pass coverage, but he would’ve earned two sacks if he were allowed to hit a quarterback.
Offensive play of the day: Marcel Reece made what might be the best catch of early camp. The veteran fullback went horizontal to reel in a deep pass from quarterback Matt Flynn that resulted in a big gain. Reece ranked among the most versatile fullbacks in the NFL, and that play is a big reason why.
Defensive play of the day: Strong safety Tyvon Branch closed out practice with an interception. He jumped a route and intercepted Flynn during a red-zone drill, picking off the pass near the goal line. It was the only interception of the day.
Rookie report: D.J. Hayden made a few coverage mistakes, getting juked out in the end zone by receiver Travionte Session. Allen said Hayden has significant work to do mentally, but has showcased solid raw ability. … WR Greg Jenkins continues to impress with his route running and athleticism. … Rookie contributions have been sparse with so many out due to injury.
On the sideline: The list of injured Raiders continues to grow. WR Conner Vernon, OL Alex Parsons and DT Stacy McGee got hurt during Tuesday’s practice. RB Latavius Murray wasn’t able to go, joining LG Lucas Nix (knee), WR Jacoby Ford, LB Kaluka Maiava, OL Menelik Watson, LB Billy Boyko, LB Miles Burris, DL Johnny Jones, DT Vance Walker and DL Brandon Bair. WR Sam McGuffie returned to action after missing two practices. … Allen will not comment on specific injuries during training camp.
Seeking silver: Allen dangled a carrot to help motivate his players through the dog days of camp. The unit who won the previous practice will wear silver jerseys the following day. The loser has to wear black, a bad thing when August brings intense heat to the Napa Valley.
Miles away: Allen said that Burris shouldn’t be expected back in action any time soon. He’s been slow to recover from offseason knee surgery, an unfortunate turn for a linebacker corps thinned out by training-camp ailments. Burris was expected to play middle linebacker, but he was capable of stepping in at all three linebacker positions.
Quote of the day: “I want a starting job even more now, even more this year. I’m blessed to have another opportunity at this and I’ll try to take advantage of it and do as much as I can to not let it get away from me.“ – Quarterback Matt Flynn, on losing the starting spot in Seattle last season