The Raiders aren’t even halfway through training camp, but are already mired in dog days. They practiced 11 times in 13 days at the Napa Valley Marriott, most of the time in pads.
The period has been productive, but a bit monotonous. It's time for something new. The Raiders are ready to hit somebody else.
“Can’t wait,” nose tackle Justin Ellis said. “It’ll be nice to go against another opponent, especially someone who doesn’t know all of my moves.”
Friday night’s exhibition comes against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium, and will feature the first live football for this group
The Raiders hope to emerge healthy, with game film as a quality teaching tool. Proceedings won’t go perfect, but the Raiders hope to apply what’s been learned over the early course of camp.
“When you go out there, you just don’t want to have pre-snap penalties, all those things,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “You want to play clean football. There’s obviously going to be mistakes first time playing in a game and those kinds of things, but you always want to make sure you’re playing clean football and you always look back and make sure that we’re better, practice included.”
Carr will ask one question after Friday’s game. Are we getting better?
He hopes the answer is yes.
He won’t get much time to show it. Head coach Jack Del Rio said his starters could play to the end of the first quarter, likely nothing beyond that.
Starter’s activity will increase in the second and third game, but the first go-round provides a clearer portrait of the entire roster after only seeing them in practice for so long.
“We want to see great effort from our football team and try and play everybody,” Del Rio said. “Everybody that’s here in camp, we’d like to get a look at them and this is a game that everybody should play. Everybody that’s ready to play should play and hopefully we can get that done.”
Playing football carries inherent injury risk, and the Raiders hope to emerge as healthy as possible from each contest. That means less exposure to important players, though game time is require for units to gel and prepare for significant work in the regular season.
“You’re always balancing the work you’d like to get in with the fresh, healthy guy that opens up for the season and has a healthy, productive season,” Del Rio said. “So there’s always that fine line of push and pull. Push to get the work you need and pull back and make sure they’re fresh. We’ll battle that like we all do around the league. We have a plan going in, and we’ll adjust as we need to.”