NAPA -– The Raiders’ first-team offensive line hasn’t changed during training camp.
Not for a single play.
Left tackle Donald Penn, left guard Gabe Jackson, center Rodney Hudson, right guard J’Marcus Webb and right tackle Menelik Watson are likely starters, and offensive line coach Mike Tice is taking time to see how they work together.
The line is set from center on left. There is some flux on the right side, but the lineup will stay static through the weekend at least.
“I think those guys have been solid, with minimal mental (mistakes),” Tice said. “They’ve earned the reps they’re taking with the No. 1s, but we’ll re-evaluate things on Tuesday, after our next off day. To this point, the five in there have been good.”
Tice will continue to evaluate throughout the preseason and could make changes as he sees fit.
The Raiders will have three new starters on this line, including Hudson and the entire right side. These reps are vital for chemistry, especially when things get physical. There is time for mixing and matching on the right, but Tice will find time for the best five to come together. It’s entirely possible that group is the one running the first team right now. Watson and veteran Austin Howard could duke it out at right tackle over the preseason, as both players are solid options.
“When the pads go on, it’s important that the same guys are working combinations with each other. We don’t have the chance to work in pads in the offseason, so the lines are a bit behind the 8-ball. We need to make sure that everyone get a chance that deserves a chance. We have to get through this next push, and then we’ll reevaluate and see if we want to move somebody up or move somebody back and we’ll go from there.”
Sio, Smith at SAM: Khalil Mack played defensive end most every snap of Wednesday’s practice. That left others to play strongside linebacker. Malcolm Smith work there with the first unit, while Sio Moore was at that spot on the second team.
Smith has experience playing on the strong side in Seattle. Moore played on the strong side in 2013 and was effective in that spot, including as a pass rusher. Ray-Ray Armstrong worked on the weak side, a position Moore manned last year until he injured his hip.
Catch of the day: Receiver Michael Crabtree nabs this honor again. Surprise, surprise. He’s earned it nearly every day of this training camp. He had two nice grabs in the final 11-on-11 drill. He beat cornerback DJ Hayden deep with an over the shoulder grab and bested Hayden again for a practice-ending touchdown catch. Crabtree found the end zone’s right corner on a fade route, caught Derek Carr’s pass and double-tapped his feet to secure the score.
Injury update: The same cast sat out Monday’s practice missed Wednesday’s work. Running back Roy Helu was able to do some side work. Tight end Clive Walford and running back Trent Richardson had done side work in recent days, but were absent on Wednesday.
Del Rio didn’t seem concerned about his missing players.
“I think we’re progressing along just fine with the guys that are hoping to join us,” Del Rio said. “I feel good about the work that’s going into that.”
Other notes from practice:
-- Raiders cornerback DJ Hayden plays some with the first team – he’s always there in the nickel package – over Keith McGill on some snaps. Hayden struggled in matchups with Crabtree and few times with Amari Cooper. Del Rio said he’s been pleased with Hayden, although he’d like to see greater consistency from the 2013 first-round pick.
-- Receivers Andres Holmes and Brice Butler has made some excellent catches during this training camp, but they’ve also made some maddening drops. Both players need to show a bit more consistency as the summer wears on.
-- Defensive lineman Denico Autry stood out on Wednesday, and made a few nice plays in the backfield.
-- Undrafted rookie linebacker Josh Shirley showed flashes of solid play. He had a “sack” in team drills and a stopped a run for a loss.
-- Trindon Holliday will compete to be the team’s punt returner and kick returner, though cornerback TJ Carrie is getting reps back there as well and could be a favorite for the job.
Daily transactions: None
Returned to practice: None
Did not practice: TE Clive Walford, RB Roy Helu Jr.
Physically unable to perform: DT Stacy McGee
Non-football illness: WR Rod Streater, RB Trent Richardson
Next practice: The Raiders get right back at it on Thursday morning with another practice in pads at 10:20 a.m. at the Napa Valley Marriott.