ALAMEDA -– Thursday was the last day of school at the Raiders practice facility. The offseason program came to a close with the mandatory minicamp finale, a compacted practice that wrapped a three-day crash course in Jack Del Rio football.
The new head coach got a few months to work with his players before turning them loose until training camp. Looking back at the period, Del Rio was pleased with the missions accomplished.
“I thought it was a real productive time for us,” Del Rio said. “I thought the team showed growth, commitment and a lot of good work went into it. I thought it was a really productive offseason for us.”
He also left them with one last piece of advice as players boarded planes leaving the East Bay. Stay off the police blotter.
“The message for these guys is be smart, make good choices and remember how important it is what we do,” Del Rio said. “It is a privilege to play in this league and to play for the Raiders, so make sure you’re representing us right out there and do the right things, and come back ready to compete. Come back in and be ready to come together as a team and prepare for the upcoming season.”
The Raiders installed a large portion of their new offensive and defensive schemes, and believe they can build on an offseason foundation when training camp starts in late July.
“We don’t want to start over in training camp,” Del Rio said. “We want to pick up from where we’re leaving off here, which means guys will need to be diligent during this time we have away from each other, and then it’ll be great to get into pads. After the first three days when you condition the guys, then you start to get in pads and we do play this game in pads, and I think it’s important to find out what you have and to build the type of team you’re going to have in pads.”
Here are some observations and notes from Thursday’s minicamp practice:
-- Thursday’s session was roughly an hour shorter than previous minicamp efforts, and didn’t seem as crisp as the other two.
-- While significant talk has been devoted to first-round pick Amari Cooper, fellow receivers Rod Streater and Kenbrell Thompkins were standout during this minicamp. Streater showed explosion lacking from an April veteran’s minicamp, and Thompkins made some acrobatic catches and flashed some serious speed.
-- Linebacker Sio Moore skipped Thursday’s workout after participating in the previous two. He’s still expected to be completely ready for training camp after recovering from offseason hip surgery.
-- Safety Nate Allen missed his second straight minicamp practice. Del Rio refused to give details about Allen’s ailment or whether he’d been fully recovered for the start of training camp despite it being seven weeks away.
-- Cornerback TJ Carrie was more active after skipping Wednesday team drills, but still took it easy. DJ Hayden and Keith McGill took most first team reps, though Carrie stole a few.
-- McGill has seen a ton of first-team action and must be impressing this new coaching staff. Players must earn their role, and it’s possible McGill could have a big one if he plays well this summer.
-- Backup quarterback Christian Ponder made some good throws during minicamp, but had quite a few poor efforts over the last two days. There were interceptions and overthrows, though it’s clear he has plenty of arm strength.
-- Second-round pick Mario Edwards Jr. saw plenty of first-team action during minicamp. Del Rio complimented his effort, saying "Mario has had a good start to his rookie year."
-- Defensive Justin Tuck drew cheers from his defense after making a quality interception at the line of scrimmage during an 11-on-11 drill. Secured possession on what looked like a batted pass. He fumbled on the return, but it was recovered by his unit.