Bilukidi makes big impression to end first practice

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Bilukidi makes big impression to end first practice

NAPA -- There were 89 players in the Raiders' first practice of training camp on Monday. There are 53 roster sports for the regular season.So yeah, it would behoove a younger, not-yet-established guy to make a play here and there to get in the coaches' consciousness.Ending the first practice with a pick-six would seem to do the trick, as sixth-round draft pick Christo Bilukidi did in sniffing out a Terrelle Pryor screen."Yeah, I just read it," Bilukidi said. "It seemed like everything that coach was teaching us, how to read plays, how to read the offense, saw it was a screen. I just backed up and then just had to make a play."I played a little tight end when I was back in high school, so, yeah, the hands are a little bit there."But Bilukidi was drafted out of Georgia State as a defensive tackle, not as a pass catcher, so the Raiders are invested in him. But making a memorable play can only help, right?"Yeah, its big because, as a rookie, no matter what, youre trying to make this team," he said. "Anything to impress these coaches is probably the No. 1 thing. Making plays everywhere around the field. Making plays is huge, but another big thing is hustling down the field, showing coaches that you want to play football, that you want to play for this team and that you want to make this 53-man roster."It was only Day 1, but it seemed Bilukidi was on the right track and the stakes are raised."Exactly, because now the pads are going to come out in like two days from now," he said. "Its going to get real, its going to get even faster, its going to get more physical. So, now you really got to showwere not even in pads. Im not saying it doesnt count, but now pads will really show who can play football and who can make this 53-man roster."

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

Donald Penn: Raiders players trust McKenzie will add right pieces

The Raiders were pretty darn good last season. A 12-4 record proved that point. There was plenty of talent on a team with a penchant for high-wire acts in victory that masked the fact there were holes on the roster.

They need to be filled for the Raiders to improve in 2017, and new players will be imported through free agency and the draft.

Left tackle Donald Penn is excited to see who gets added, but said there’s no doubt talent is coming to Oakland. He speaks for Raiders players, who have faith that general manager Reggie McKenzie will make the right moves.

“Things that Reggie has done in past drafts have been great, and we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings back towards us,” Penn said recently during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network. “We can’t wait to get back out there healthy. We’re ready to hit the football world with a storm.”

While new guys are coming, a few might head out. The Raiders have several unrestricted free agents. Penn wants to keep his guys around – he mentioned running back Latavius Murray by name -- though he has some ideas for McKenzie’s checklist.

The Raiders don’t need much with most key players under contract – the Raiders should be less active in free agency over past offseasons – but a few key components could put this team over the top.

“If we stick to Reggie’s plan, we’ll be great,” Penn said. “I know he’s going to have a great draft, add a couple little pieces here and there – maybe somebody in the secondary to help out a little bit.

"On offense, you could always use a weapon. Maybe we get another receiver to take (pressure off Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper), but we have a good nucleus right now.”

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Raiders LT Donald Penn: QB Derek Carr 'almost 100 percent'

Derek Carr is on the mend. The Raiders franchise quarterback had surgery to repair his fibula shortly after he broke it in a Week 16 victory over Indianapolis, and is recovering well during the offseason.

Carr insisted on intense rehab this winter in an attempt – however unlikely it may have been – to return should the Raiders have played in the Super Bowl. It slowed to a normal pace after the Raiders' loss at Houston in the postseason’s opening round, but those in contact with him say he’s making strides.

Left tackle Donald Penn was recently in contact with Carr, and provided an update on Monday during an in-studio appearance on NFL Network.

“I texted Derek (a few) days ago checking in,” Penn said, “and he said he’s almost 100 percent.”

Surgically-repaired broken filbulas take significant time to heal, and the Raiders plan to be conservative with their MVP candidate during the offseason. Derek Carr’s brother and NFL Network analyst David Carr, who was on set with Penn on Monday, said Derek could be back for offseason work.

“He’s doing good,” David Carr said. “He’s walking around already, stretching it out. You can’t do a lot for the bone, right? But he’s going to be back. He’s going to get a whole full offseason in. That’s going to be the best part.”