NAPA –- Sunday was the first Raiders training camp practice in pads. It’s a holiday for some, especially those in positions where contact is essential. Linemen on both sides prefer these sessions where pads are integral to executing proper technique.
The same can be said for running backs, even if they aren’t getting brought to the ground.
“It’s a little different than other days, playing two-hand touch,” rookie rusher DeAndre Washington said. “You can run through some arm tackles and get out there a really compete. It’s fun. On this day and every other, I’m trying to showcase my versatility.”
Washington has that in bulk, which is why he’ll be given an opportunity to compliment Latavius Murray this season. The fifth-round pick from Texas Tech offers a contrasting style to Murray, with the receiving skills to be a third-down asset. He’s durable enough to weather 274 touches as a senior at Texas Tech, giving the Raiders options in the backfield depending on matchups.
Washington’s 5-foot-8, a full seven inches shorter than Murray, could be a strong change of pace to the starter. He could also be a real threat behind a massive offensive line that averages 6-foot-4 and more than 315 pounds.
“That’s when being a smaller guy works in my favor,” Washington said. “Being behind those big guys makes it hard to see me. It’s definitely a good feeling when I can hide, surprise some people and do my thing.”
Washington must show well in preseason games to earn a role, but he has flashed a slashing power, acceleration through the lane and speed in open space. He has a lot more to prove in a competition to see significant touches, but has worked extensively with the first unit early on.
“The speed was a lot different,” Washington said, “but the goal is to keep stacking days together and make the most of every rep.”
Linemen go one-on-one: Padded practices typically involve individual competition between offense and defense, and the best battles come in the trenches. Pass rushers and blockers squared off on Sunday, with Donald Penn and Menelik Watson getting the better of Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. The defenders had some standout plays in team drills -– Mack in particular opened those periods with some excellent play -– but the linemen held their own in these sparring sessions.
Osemele misses practice: Left guard Kelechi Osemele missed practice with an injury, but head coach Jack Del Rio told reporters it wasn’t of great concern and that he should be back Monday or shortly thereafter. Guard/center Jon Feliciano took his reps with the first team.
Rivera’s big day: Fourth-year veteran Mychal Rivera, trying to maintain a role with third-round pick Clive Walford bearing down on a starting spot, had a big Sunday. He made several nice catches on the day, including one where he reeled in a Derek Carr fastball at full extension, primarily using his fingertips.
Walford is being eased back into full-time duty, allowing Rivera to take more first-unit reps than he’ll get down the line.
Catch of the day: Johnny Holton earns Sunday’s honor, using raw speed to zoom past SaQwan Edwards and Nate Allen deep to reel in a perfect strike from quarterback Matt McGloin.
Other notes from Raiders practice
-- Fullback Marcel Reece worked with tight ends during individual drills, a sign the team might use the versatile talent in unique spots in the coming season.
-- No. 3 quarterback Connor Cook missed Sunday’s work to attend the funeral of a Michigan State teammate.
-- Dan Williams is currently working with the second unit as a nose tackle, deferring to Justin Ellis with the first unit.
-- Undrafted rookie edge rusher James Cowser has been working with the second unit opposite Shilique Calhoun. Neiron Ball has been doing the same at interior linebacker.
-- The Raiders punt return group is similar to what was used during the offseason program. The group includes TJ Carrie, Joe Hansley and DeAndre Washington.
-- Undrafted receiver Max McCaffrey flashed on a nice catch on a deep ball, and is involved in a battle to be the No. 5 receiver.
Daily transactions: None
Returned to practice: N/A
Did not practice: OL Kelechi Osemele, QB Connor Cook
Physically unable to perform list: DL Denico Autry, DL Greg Townsend Jr.
Next practice: The Raiders will practice on Monday morning, and is the second of consecutive sessions in pads.