NAPA – The Raiders seemed to enter 2016 a bit thin at interior linebacker. Ben Heeney and Malcolm Smith were scheduled starters, though there seemed to be little depth behind them.
A few weeks and a preseason game into this training camp, the Raiders are looking a bit more flush. That’s because Cory James and Korey Toomer have blossomed in those spots thus far, which requires an ability to cover well in space.
Toomer had seven tackles and James had five, including one for a loss, in Friday’s exhibition win at Arizona.
James saw some time with first unit in Monday’s practice, after Heeney got tangled up with Mychal Rivera and left practice early. Heeney tweeted that he was okay, though his brief absence illustrates the need for quality backups in case of emergency.
“That’s what we’re working hard to develop,” Del Rio said. “Both Korey Toomer and Cory James are younger players that have an opportunity to compete, find their way here and compete for a spot on this team. Obviously, playing well in the preseason game helps your cause. Doing a good job on special teams, being accountable there helps your cause. One game in, I would say both of those guys played pretty well in their first outing and I want to see what they look like in Week 2.”
No surgery for Mario: Head coach Jack Del Rio said that defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. will not need surgery to properly recover from a hip strain suffered in Friday’s exhibition victory over Arizona.
Pro Football Talk reported that Edwards Jr. is expected to miss 4-6 weeks. If that timeline fits, Edwards Jr. would miss the first few games of the regular season. Denico Autry will step up in his stead.
Catch of the day: Receiver Andre Holmes connected with Matt McGloin on a touchdown pass in Friday’s preseason game, and the pair hooked up on another deep pass in Monday’s practice. Holmes ended up going out of bounds at the 1-yard line, but secured possession over safety Brynden Trawick.
Other notes from Raiders practice:
-- CB DJ Hayden had yet another strong practice, this one featuring a interception off QB Matt McGloin that likely would’ve been returned for a touchdown. Hayden has made several big plays throughout training camp, and consistently been the first-team slot cornerback.
-- Rookie SS Karl Joseph intercepted a QB Derek Carr pass tipped at the line of scrimmage.
-- Head coach Jack Del Rio said he anticipated TE Gabe Holmes will be placed on injured reserve with ankle injuries.
-- RB Taiwan Jones suited up for Friday’s game but did not play. He was a practice participant on Monday, in a return to action.
Daily transactions: Raiders waived OL Torian White
Returned to practice: RB Taiwan Jones (did not play Friday’s game), S Jimmy Hall
Did not practice: DL Mario Edwards Jr., TE Gabe Holmes, LB Neiron Ball, RB Jalen Richard
Next practice: The Raiders will have their final training camp practice at the Napa Valley Marriott on Tuesday morning, before they pack up for an exhibition game at Green Bay. They'll continue work at their Alameda complex after that contest.