Technically speaking, Raiders training camp started Sunday morning. Rookies, quarterbacks, first-year players and select injured veterans reported to the Napa Valley Marriott to punch the clock a little early.
That group gets a head start with a four-day refresher course before the full squad reports on Thursday.
The Raiders will spend roughly a month in wine country building a depth chart and perfecting schemes they belief will generate improvement in the win column.
After winning just 11 games over three seasons, the Raiders goals remain high. That’s an attitude implemented by new head coach Jack Del Rio, a man set on altering a decade-long trend of losing.
“Goal No. 1 is to win our division, and I don’t see why not,” Del Rio said last week at a coach’s reception. “We came here to get this franchise back to where it belongs, which is being great once again.”
The Raiders have a ton of work ahead to accomplish such a lofty goal, and training camp is a vital period for the entire organization.
There are several milestones within it. Let’s go over a few key dates as the Raiders surge toward the regular season:
Sunday: Rookies, quarterbacks, first-year players and select, previously injured veterans report to training camp.
Comment: The Raiders have brought the full squad in at once. This extra time should help get young players up to speed.
Thursday: The full squad reports to training camp
Comment: Camp begins in earnest when all of the veterans arrive in wine country.
Friday: First full-squad practice
Comment: The Raiders take the field for the first of 16 days of practice in Napa, where this roster will take shape.
Aug. 2: First padded practice
Comment: This is an important step. The Raiders will have a better grasp of their team with padded practices, where it’s far easier to evaluate the defensive front seven and the running game.
Aug. 14: The Raiders host the St. Louis Rams in the preseason opener.
Comment: The first team should play roughly a quarter.
Aug. 22: The Raiders’ long preseason trip leads them to Minnesota for the second preseason game.
Comment: Starters usually play a half in this game.
Aug. 25: Raiders break camp in Napa, head back to team facility in Alameda.
Comment: The Silver and Black have a ton to accomplish this training camp. The team must be vastly improved by this date.
Aug. 30: The Raiders host the Arizona Cardinals on a preseason version of “Sunday Night Football.”
Comment: Starters see the most snaps in this game, as many as three-quarters worth in what’s considered a regular-season rehersal.
Sept. 1: Raiders must reduce the roster to 75 players.
Comment: This cut shouldn’t be hard. Trimming 15 players is largely obvious at this stage.
Sept. 3: The preseason finale occurs at Seattle.
Comment: Starters barely play in this game to maintain health.
Sept. 5: The Raiders cut the roster to 53.
Comment: This cut should be a tough one, with some surprises as the coaching staff tries to form the best possible.
Sept. 6: The Raiders announce the practice squad.
Comment: The teams gets 10 players to develop without the pressure of having to play in games.
Sept. 13: The regular season opens as the Raiders host the Cincinnati Bengals.
Comment: The Raiders have won just 11 games in the last three seasons. Improvement must be shown on game day. That quest for respectability starts against the Bengals.