NAPA –- Linebacker Sio Moore was taken off the physically unable to perform list on Saturday and joined his teammates at that morning’s practice.
He didn’t hop right back in to the starting lineup. The third-year pro, who started 22 games in his two professional seasons, worked almost exclusively with the second unit as he works his way back to action.
Moore missed most of the offseason program recovering from a January hip surgery. Ray-Ray Armstrong and free-agent signing Malcolm Smith impressed in his absence, and those two have flanked middle linebacker Curtis Lofton since the 2015 squad got cranking.
Moore is still expected to start, possibly at strongside linebacker if Khalil Mack plays defensive end in the base defense. He played there as a rookie and had five sacks. He played on the weak side last season and fit in well there, too.
Moore is going to have to earn his role with the new coaching staff.
“We need to find out what he can bring,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I haven’t really seen him full tilt, but he is active now. He has joined the team again in a full-go capacity. I’ll get to learn more about him, so we’ll learn more as we go with him. We need all of our players to grow and to improve and to become great teammates, and he’s no different.”
The Raiders have solid depth at outside linebacker and will find a way to play to each player’s strengths as they’re discovered over the course of the preseason.
“We’ve got a new system to learn, so make sure that you understand where you belong and arrive with an attitude,” Del Rio said. “That’s what we’re looking for from our linebackers. He’ll get an opportunity to compete and show us what he’s about, starting today and as he works through camp now.”
Raiders put the pads on Sunday: Del Rio called Saturday’s practice the “last acclimation day,” before putting the pads on for the first time Sunday afternoon. That’s a good thing for a new head coach who hasn’t seen many of these players practice or even play in pads in person.
It’s an important step for a team, which hasn’t hit since the 2014 season.
“The game’s played in pads so you really can’t get a full evaluation until you get your team in pads and see them compete,” Del Rio said. “That’s the next part, so we’re excited to get that phase going and then that’ll be part of what we do. The amount of contact we have in today’s NFL is limited, so we have to be very purposeful when we are in pads that we get the work we need and that we prepare ourselves fundamentally to be able to do the blocking and tackling that’s necessary to be a good football team.”
The Raiders won’t do an Oklahoma drill or any live tackling on padded practices as they try and keep players healthy yet prepared for the regular season.
Catch of the day: Receiver Kenbrell Thompkins made an acrobatic grab during a practice where the passing game struggled to stay in sync. Thompkins ran a deep route and faded inside a bit to get open. Quarterback Matt McGloin let one fly, Thompkins leaped up, a snagged a reception in tight coverage and fell to the earth. The crowd cheered a great catch, and Thompkins jumped up and showed fans the football.
Defensive play of the day: Safety Nate Allen made a quality interception of quarterback Derek Carr that would’ve been the defensive play of the day until cornerback Keith McGill stole the honor.
The second-year pro gave up a reception to Amari Cooper in 11-on-11 drills, but chased the rookie down and punched the ball free. The defense recovered, which sparked a big celebration near the end of practice.
Other notes from practice:
-- Highly touted rookie tight end Clive Walford missed practice for a second straight day, which has allowed incumbent starter Mychal Rivera to work with the first unit. He’s fared well in the early going.
“I know he’s an athletic guy,” Del Rio said. “I think he showed some of that athleticism here early in this camp with a couple of nice catches. We like the way he’s worked throughout the offseason. He’s continued to strengthen himself, continued to develop as a player.”
-- Josh Harper, Taiwan Jones, Michael Dyer and Austin Willis were all active in kickoff return duty.
-- Receiver Rod Streater and running back Trent Richardson are on the active/non-football illness list, not the active/non-football injury list as previously reported.
-- While he’s running with the third and fourth unit, running back Taiwan Jones has looked spry and explosive early in camp despite putting on 20 pounds of muscle since getting hurt early last year.
-- Safety Larry Asante has looked good in the early going, working primarily with Brandian Ross on the second team.
-- Rookie guard Jon Feliciano got into a shoving match late in Saturday’s practice, but the scuffle dispersed before turning into a brawl.
Returned to practice: LB Sio Moore
Did not practice: TE Clive Walford, WR Brice Butler
Physically unable to perform: KR/PR Trindon Holliday, DT Stacy McGee
Non-football illness: WR Rod Streater, RB Trent Richardson