NAPA – After 28 days, 19 practices and two exhibitions, the Raiders are heading home. Training camp broke following Wednesday’s practice, as moving men transported Raiders HQ back south to Alameda.
Training camp was beset by injuries along both lines but, in an ironic twist, the Raiders left healthier than they came. Menelik Watson, Pat Sims and Vance Walker returned to practice this week after extended absences, leaving them with two weeks to get ready for the regular season.
Despite the injury setbacks, Allen believes the Raiders made significant progress working at the Napa Valley Marriott.
“I thought our guys came out here and worked, and I thought we got better,” Allen said. “I thought we were able to evaluate what we have here in this camp right now, and we’re going to continue to do everything we can right now to try to improve this football team.
“It was a good camp. We’re ready to break and get back to Alameda and get back to kind of a more normal, everyday type of routine.”
The Raiders spent time away giving cohesiveness to an overhauled roster, a mission largely accomplished because of time away from home.
“You really benefit from is guys really get a chance to get away from everything else, get away from all the other distractions and really come together as a football team,” Allen said. “From a mental aspect of being able to go through the grind of training camp and being right here together, I think that’s a positive.”
The Raiders will conduct a walk-thru practice on Thursday and play the Chicago Bears on Friday at Oakland Coliseum.
Murray has minor surgery: Rookie running back Latavius Murray, who has missed most of training camp with injury, had arthroscopic surgery on his ankle. Allen did not give a timetable for his return. Murray was expected to play a role in this season’s running game, but that seems unlikely. The length of his rehab will determine what the Raiders do with the rookie in the regular season, but he is no longer a lock for the 53-man roster.
Who’s in, who’s out on Friday: Allen said that defensive tackle Pat Sims and offensive tackle Menelik Watson, both of whom returned to practice recently, will not play Friday against Chicago. Defensive tackle Vance Walker will play after three straight practices. Defensive end Lamarr Houston will also make his exhibition debut. Strong safety Tyvon Branch was ruled out with a rib injury. Right guard Mike Brisiel, cornerback Tracy Porter and receiver Juron Criner aren't expected to play either
QB update: Rookie quarterbacks Tyler Wilson and Matt McGloin didn’t practice much (a snap here and there) as the Raiders prepared for an exhibition where the starters might play three quarters, but Allen said he might get all four quarterbacks in the game. He also said Wilson and McGloin will get more work next week, heading into a preseason finale where starters barely play.
Rookie show flops: The Raiders held their annual rookie show -- a longstanding NFL tradition -- on Tuesday evening, but it didn't go well. Allen has seen a few in his day, and this one might've been the worst.
"They were terrible," Allen said with a laugh. "Twelve years of NFL Football and that’s the worst rookie show I’ve ever seen. Couple of good skits; D.J. [Hayden] has a little bit of talent, Sio Moore has a little bit of talent, but overall, very disappointed. I’m glad that we aren’t judging talent based off their rookie show."
Returning from injuries: OL Menelik Watson (calf), WR Brice Butler, LB Keenan Clayton
Still sidelined: SS Tyvon Branch (ribs), WR Travionte Session, TE David Ausberry (shoulder), DL Brandon Bair (hamstring), CB Tracy Porter (groin), RB Latavius Murray (ankle), WR Juron Criner, LT Jared Veldheer (triceps), LB Kaluka Maiava.
Physically unable to perform list: LB Miles Burris (knee)
Quote of the day: "I had to do a double take," Flynn said. "Not only was it a new number, but the jersey looked a little big on him." -- Raiders QB Matt Flynn, on Terrelle Pryor switching jersey numbers.