NAPA -– The Raiders have practiced nine of the last 10 days, with seven workouts in full pads. They enter a scheduled Monday off day happy with their rate of progress and aware that there are kinks aplenty left to work out.
This stretch concluded with a spirited Sunday practice focused on situational drills, where the offense looked particularly good in 1-minute and 30-second scoring drills.
The first unit’s day ended with a long completion from quarterback Derek Carr to Michael Crabtree and a short-yardage touchdown run by Latavius Murray. Then backup Christian Ponder threw a touchdown pass to Brice Butler.
Players wrapped the session up and joined loved ones for a family day where the Raiders hosted a barbecue.
“We had a great first week or so of camp,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I think there was a lot of energy and effort, but also a lot of productivity. I think we grew as a football team this week. We went through a lot of different situations. Fundamentally, the teaching that went in, the work and the sacrifice and the coming together and understanding how we’re going to apply ourselves within the system. I think all of that was really excellent. Good first week. This effort would have earned a day off, but it’s mandated so they’re going to get it regardless. But I was glad to see that kind of performance.”
The Raiders haven’t been great each day, and Del Rio would like to see consistency as the Raiders go through a pair of camp practices before the preseason opener against St. Louis on Friday.
“Where we’re seeing ups and downs, we want to see the up at a high level and be maintained and be consistent with it. So that’s what we’re striving for. Yeah, if we fall down, we get up. If we stumble, we get back on track. So we’re going to continue to do that, hit the reset button where we need to, but we’re looking to sustain excellence, looking to sustain a high level of play and that’s what we’re striving for.
“It’s coming together. I think we’ve sputtered a little bit throughout this week where the offense would have the upper hand, the defense would have the upper hand. It’s gone back and forth and that’s normal for a training camp, but what we want to see is our effort on both sides continue to elevate.”
The players will have Monday completely off, but coaches will use the down time to evaluate practice tape and decide if unit adjustments need to be made.
“We’ll do that as a staff, take the time that we have when the players are off to be real thorough going through the tape,” Del Rio said. “We have some time to kind of catch our breath, go back and evaluate the roster and talk about the roster, and if we feel the need to alter anything then we’ll do that.”
Streater’s puzzling illness: Reciever Rod Streater has been on the active/non-football illness list since the start of training camp. He’s been working with trainers on the side for the last few days, but Del Rio expressed concern that the team doesn’t have a firm grasp on what’s wrong with the fourth-year veteran.
“We’re trying to determine exactly what we’re dealing with with the non-football (illness) situation,” Streater said.
There is no timetable for his return.
Injury update: Raiders outside linebacker Malcolm Smith hasn’t missed a practice during training camp, but he’s limping off the field each day. The veteran has been limited the past two days, and didn’t participate in many team drills on Sunday. Spencer Hadley stepped in for Smith in those spots.
Hadley had to with Sio Moore also missing a second straight practice with injury.
Fullback Jamize Olawale missed a third straight workout and has been seen in a walking boot, but Del Rio doesn’t think his injury will result in a significant amount of time missed.
Other notes from Raiders practice:
-- Backup quarterback Christian Ponder continued to make some poor throws in practice. No. 3 passer Matt McGloin hasn’t been great, but has played far better than Ponder in recent days.
-- Receivers have rotated heavily between units in recent days, especially on Sunday, because they have such a high volume of players to evaluate.
-- Del Rio said receivers behind Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree have been a bit inconsistent. Kenbrell Thompkins has been the best behind the top two, and has seen significant action with Streater out.
-- Defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr. has shown a nice combination of power and shiftiness in his pass rushing. It would be a huge boon for the Raiders if Edwards is productive pressuring the quarterback as a rookie.
-- Backup middle linebacker Ben Heeney continues to impress with hustle and tenacity. He seems to have picked up the defense well and is always around the ball in the second unit.
-- Running back Taiwan Jones has been a solid slasher in heavy traffic, with breakaway speed once he hits the open field. He’s been impressive thus far, clearly the best backup rusher with Roy Helu and Michael Dyer out.
-- Second-year safety Jonathan Dowling has been around the ball quite a bit, and made some nice plays on Sunday.
Daily transactions: None
Returned to practice: None
Did not practice: LB Sio Moore, TE Clive Walford, RB Roy Helu Jr., RT Menelik Watson, RB Michael Dyer, DE Justin Tuck, FB Jamize Olawale, TE Lee Smith
Non-football illness: WR Rod Streater
Next practice: The Raiders have a scheduled day off on Monday, and return to the practice field on Tuesday afternoon at 4:20 p.m. at the Napa Valley Marriott.