NAPA -– There’s always high energy at the first practice of training camp, but Friday morning’s effort was altogether different.
There was a hyped tempo applied to all things Raiders in this camp, a vibe that extends from the coaching staff on down. Music was bumping throughout the session, and coaches were demanding a high level of execution in every drill.
That’s the tone head coach Jack Del Rio wants to set for this camp. Have fun, work hard and understand that greatness comes with sacrifice.
“I like the way we came out and worked today,” Del Rio said. “We feel like we have the makings of a good football team that needs to get to work and pay the price. …This group of men has a mind on being special. We all start at the bottom of the mountain, and winning is about which teams develop the mentality and cohesiveness they need in tough times.”
Del Rio expects sacrifice and commitment from his players during this period, while they try to craft a team into a contender. Changing a culture is difficult, but the Raiders have bought in to what Del Rio is selling.
"There's a real energy and a sense of urgency to these practices, and that comes from the coaching staff," running back Latavius Murray said. "We're all working hard, but they create an environment where you're excited to put in the time."
DJ Hayden, second teamer?: Raiders cornerback DJ Hayden took reps with the second unit during Friday’s practice, as he did during mid-June’s mandatory minicamp. TJ Carrie and Keith McGill took first team reps in practice.
While it seems the 2013 first-round pick has fallen behind two younger players, the Raiders will use all three player in sub packages.
Del Rio said he has faith in all three guys, and that talk of Hayden faltering has been overplayed.
Catch of the day: New Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree made several outstanding catches during training camp’s first practice, and was in great sync with quarterback Derek Carr. One in particular, stood out from the rest.
Crabtree ran down the sideline, but was covered well by cornerback Keith McGill. Carr threw it up anyway, and safety Charles Woodson tracked right once the ball was in the air. Crabtree jumped and snared the pass in a mess of hands and secured it while both defenders tried to rip the ball away.
Defensive play of the day: Pass rusher Khalil Mack made several solid plays in the padless practice, but he absolutely schooled right tackle Menelik Watson in the final period of 11-on-11 drills. He juked a move inside, broke out and around Watson and reached Carr before he finished his drop.
“My first instinct was to run Khalil over. He’s lucky we weren’t in pads,” Carr said with a laugh. “He’s going to make plays like that because he’s a freak and he reads plays so well. Usually, that play doesn’t look like that.”
Raiders place four on injury lists The Raiders placed four new players on injury lists to start training camp. They put receiver Rod Streater and running back Trent Richardson on the active/non-football injury list before Friday’s practice, meaning they didn’t pass a physical due to ailments suffered away from team activites.
Return man Trindon Holliday and defensive tackle Stacy McGee joined linebacker Sio Moore on the active/physically unable to perform list.
Del Rio doesn’t discuss injuries during the preseason, but said he doesn’t anticipate Streater or Richardson to miss much time.
Moore was in uniform working out on the side, often running and cutting at a good pace. The third-year pro is recovering from offseason hip surgery, and wasn’t ready despite taking some snaps later in the team’s offseason program. Del Rio didn’t want to put a time line on Moore’s return to practice.
Other notes from practice:
-- Khalil Mack played both defensive end and outside linebacker in Friday’s practice, and was on the line quite often in the base defense. Without Moore in the mix, Malcolm Smith played weakside linebacker and Ray-Ray Armstrong manned the strong side with Curtis Lofton in the middle.
-- Fullback Marcel Reece reported to camp trimmed down significantly. The versatile talent played last year around 245, but looks thinning likely in an attempt to be more agile and more of an asset in the passing game.
-- Quarterback Matt McGloin took some second-team reps in 11-on-11 drills over Christian Ponder. Del Rio said he brought Ponder in to be the backup, but that jobs are earned, not given.
Returned to practice: None.
Did not practice: TE Clive Walford
Physically unable to perform: LB Sio Moore, KR/PR Trindon Holliday, DT Stacy McGee
Non-football injury: WR Rod Streater, RB Trent Richardson