Allen: 'Overall I feel pretty good about where we're at defensively'
The Raiders signed Marquette King after the 2012 draft as an undrafted free agent. He spent all of last season on injured reserve. (AP)
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Practice summary: Chris Kluwe was expected to be the Raiders punter this season. After the last few practices, that prospect doesn’t seem so certain.
Marquette King is a legitimate challenger to Kluwe’s post following a solid week of practice that showcased his booming, Shane Lechler-like leg. King’s issue has always been consistency, which is Kluwe’s strong suit. Not so recently. King has looked strong.
Kluwe also sent some wobblers up in recent days, which has given King surer footing in this race. The punters got one attempt each in Friday’s exhibition, and future in-game punts will go a long way in determining a victor in this position battle. Neither player has guaranteed money owed this season and the cap hit is roughly the same to cut either player. Performance, therefore, is all that matters.
King certainly looked better on Monday, when practice included an unusually high number of special teams periods. The competition is anything but over, but it's closer than expected because King has made it that way.
“I’ve seen Marquette’s consistency get better, and I think that’s a good battle,” coach Dennis Allen said. “I think that’s a good competition between him and Kluwe. Marquette, he’s a guy that’s working extremely hard and he’s gotten better. The consistency with him as far as the punts, as far as the get-off times – the little details are the things that we’re still hoping to see him continue to improve. Over the last week or so, I’ve seen a lot of improvement out of him.”
The tight-end competition is narrowing a bit. Richard Gordon seems to be the top guy because he’s the best blocker, while David Ausberry continues to struggle in that area and has been inconsistent as a receiver. The Raiders used Jeron Mastrud on the first team Monday, because Allen sees him as a sold in-line blocker. Rookie Mychal Rivera is also in the mix, but could be used more on passing downs.
After participating in 12 straight practice sessions, safety Charles Woodson was given some veteran rest. The 36-year old was allowed to sit out after participating in more practice than anticipated.
Offensive play of the day: Quarterback Matt Flynn made a few good throws under pressure on a day dominated by defense, including a well-timed slant that gave receiver Denarius Moore room to run from extra yards.
Defensive play of the day: It seems like strong safety Tyvon Branch earns this honor in every practice. The veteran made an aggressive play on a ball thrown by quarterback Matt Flynn. Despite being the last line of defense, Branch stepped in front of Rod Streater at the last moment and made an interception. If he would’ve whiffed, Streater would’ve easily ran for a touchdown.
Rookie report: D.J. Hayden returned to work after two days out with a hamstring strain. Allen said the first-round pick should be cleared for contact on Friday and is expected to play Aug. 23 against the Chicago Bears. … WR Greg Jenkins hasn’t practiced poorly, but he’s clearly fallen behind Brice Butler in the pecking order. … Running back Deonte Williams as made progress as a receiver, and has increased his reps with Latavius Murray out again with injury.
Long-snapping is hard: Jon Condo has given the Raiders a consistent long snapper for years. His value was affirmed in last year’s opener, when he was lost to a concussion and the Raiders punting ability fell apart. That also underscores the role of the backup. Right now, that’s center Stefen Wisniewski. He practiced some at long snapper on Monday and sent back a few errant shots, including one that sailed feet above Kluwe’s head. Josh Cribbs also took some reps and is considered an option at the position.
New injuries: S Charles Woodson (veteran rest), CB Tracy Porter
Returning from injuries: CB D.J. Hayden (hamstring), OLB Sio Moore
Still sidelined: LG Lucas Nix, CB Taiwan Jones, LB Keenan Clayton, RG Mike Brisiel (ankle), RB Latavius Murray, WR Juron Criner, OL Menelik Watson (calf), DT Pat Sims (hamstring), WR Jacoby Ford (knee), DE Lamarr Houston, DT Vance Walker, LB Billy Boyko, LB Kaluka Maiava, G/C Alex Parsons, DL Brandon Bair
Physically unable to perform list: LB Miles Burris (knee)
Note: Generally, Allen does not comment on injury specifics during training camp.
Quote of the day: “Charles Woodson was my favorite player in college, so it’s been really cool lining up next to him. He’s accomplished so much in this league and he still gets that twinkle in his eye talking about football."– Raiders safety Tyvon Branch, on the prospect of playing next to Charles Woodson.