NAPA – The Raiders spent 18 days in isolation at the Napa Valley Marriott, pouring complete focus into season prep. Head coach Jack Del Rio considers his team better for the experience.
The Raiders moved back to their Alameda facility after Thursday’s practice, the 14th of this training camp, ready to complete the preseason. The next milestone comes in Saturday’s exhibition against the Los Angeles Rams.
“I think we came in with a purposeful mind going after things, accomplishing things,” Del Rio said. “In terms of installation, in terms of situational awareness and those things, we’re coaching and teaching. I think we were able to work and get guys either back or really close to being back and I feel really good about the way camp went. It was a strong camp. It was very purposeful and very productive.”
The Raiders left relatively healthy, despite longer-term injuries to Keith McGill and Denver Kirkland. There were some issues unresolved during this time.
Donald Penn’s contract holdout continues after nearly three weeks. First-round pick Gareon Conley still hasn’t seen the field while dealing with a shin injury originally suffered in a June minicamp.
Jihad Ward, Ben Heeney and Cooper Helfet joined Conley and Penn as players who didn’t participate in a camp practice.
“I know the natural question is going to hit me on a couple of the guys. Obviously, one is not here, his choice. You have a couple of others that haven’t been able to join us at practice yet, and they’re working,” Del Rio said. “They’re doing everything we’re asking. They’ll come back when they can. Until then, we just move on. We’re looking forward to playing at home this week in front of our crowd. I’m excited about that opportunity to kick that off.”
-- The battle to be quarterback Derek Carr’s backup wages on, though Del Rio said EJ Manuel has a leg up at this stage. That supports what was seen in training camp, when Manuel took most every second-unit snap.
“I think the time we had here and the first game the other night, I think (Manuel) has done a little more, done enough to be in the second slot,” Del Rio said. “I think they’ll continue to alternate reps and both get opportunities to show us. I’m pleased with both of the guys. I thought both guys operated pretty darn well (on Saturday at Arizona).”
-- The Raiders concluded camp with a punt catching contest. Each phase sent a representative to catch a Marquette King punt, with pushups going to the loser. Interior lineman Jon Feliciano caught his volley. So did backup long snapper Andrew East. Defensive tackle Justin Ellis couldn’t corral three angled attempts, meaning the defense had to do pushups.
-- The Raiders held a glorified walk-through practice on Thursday, working in jerseys and shorts. They will hold a formal walh-through on Friday in Alameda before Saturday’s game at Oakland Coliseum.