NAPA - Aaron Curry landing on the physically unable to perform list with a knee injury on the first day of camp is no doubt a downer for the Raiders' weak-side linebacker.But it's also an opportunity for rookie Miles Burris, Oakland's high-energy fourth-round draft choice out of San Diego State. So much so that Burris nearly had to pinch himself when he found himself lining up alongside the likes of Richard Seymour with the Raiders' first-team defense Monday during the team's opening training camp practice."Maybe when they're in the huddle a little bit and they're staring at me, probably wondering who I am," Burris said."The more reps I can get, Ill take. Its really good and beneficial for me as far as bringing me along quicker (and) being immersed out there with the first team and having to get a feel for the game more. It was a good time."Since it was the first day of camp and the Raiders were in shorts and helmets and not in pads and hitting each other -- that comes Wednesday -- it was hard to tell exactly how Burris fared. Even if his highly-publicized high motor was most definitely on display in drills.Still, coach Dennis Allen seemed impressed, when asked about Burris and fellow rookie linebacker Nate Stupar."I think both of them are instinctive football players," Allen said. "They're smart and they've done a nice job of picking up the scheme. They're still rookies and they make some rookie mistakes, but as far as the level of commitment, I've been real pleased with that."At San Diego State, Burris played in a hybrid 3-3-5 defense, so playing on the weak side in a 4-3 NFL defense will take some adjustments. But he had a rookie minicamp, three weeks of OTAs and a three-day minicamp to get ready for training camp.So where's his comfort level now, as opposed to two months ago?"A lot more comfortable," he said. "I made sure to stay studying and the book, the notes that I took from OTAs and minicamp, I took that home and was studying that every day. Just from the reps that I got there as well it did bring me a lot farther than where I expected to be and I felt pretty comfortable out there today.And the aspect of the game he feels he needs more work on is predictable.I think right now just the pass game," Burris said. "Theres a lot of ins and outs to the pass coverage. What were playing and also what the offense is giving us. And a lot of that comes from experience and reps and a lot also comes from the film room and studying your playbook."
ALAMEDA – The Raiders have had great success mining gold from undrafted free agency. Jalen Richard and Darius Latham were kings of last year’s crop, which was six strong by season’s end. with Seth Roberts and Denico Autry other examples of undrafted free agents done good in recent years.
Can Raiders scouts find more helpful pieces from those left out of the NFL draft? Time will tell on that one, but finding the right undrafted players is something the team takes seriously. Scouts revel in undrafted players who make it in the league.
“It’s very rewarding,” Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie said. “If we sign him as a free agent, we may have had him on the board as draftable, but getting guys post draft, that helps you down the road. To maintain a consistent winner, you have to hit on some of those guys. You have to. The way that the contracts are these days, you have to have some of those type players to help you win football games year in and year out.”
The Raiders will search for those players into Saturday evening to fill the 90-man roster. McKenzie secured some of his top targets with four seventh-round picks, though several more have signed with the club. Here’s a list of those who have signed with the team thus far:
-- OL Jordan Simmons, USC: The hulking offensive lineman signed with the Raiders, he announced on social media. Simmons stands 6-foot-5 and 335 pounds, and will turn pro after being denied a sixth year of college eligibility. The talented guard had an injury-riddled career.
-- WR Isaac Whitney, USC: Whitney is yet another undrafted Trojan to join the Raiders roster. He announced the signing on social media. He didn’t have many college stats, but is fast with the size the Raiders prefer in outside receivers.
-- WR Keon Hatcher, Arkansas: Hatcher will reportedly join the offseason receiver group in hopes of taking a roster spot. He had 44 catches for 743 yards and eight touchdowns in his final college season. (Houston Chronicle)
-- WR Ishmael Zamora, Baylor: The Bears official website reported that Zamora will sign with the Silver and Black. He had63 catches for 809 yards and eight touchdowns in 2016. He was suspended three games for abusing a dog in an incident that was caught on video.
-- S Ahmad Thomas, Oklahoma: The Raiders need safety depth, so it was smart of Thomas to sign in Oakland. He was a three-year starter and a team captain. (Houston Chronicle)
-- S Anthony Cioffi, Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights’ official Twitter account reported a four-year starter in college will give the pros a try in Oakland.
-- DT Jordan Wade, Oklahoma: The 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive tackle will join the Raiders. (SoonerScoop.com)
-- TE Pharaoh Brown, Oregon: The Ducks didn’t have a single player drafted, but Brown will join the Silver and Black. The tight end announced a signing on Twitter. He had 33 catches for 426 yards and five touchdown.
Check back for further updates...
ALAMEDA – It took significant time for Elijah Hood’s name to be called in this year’s NFL draft. The North Carolina running back was nearly last, the No. 242 overall selection.
He didn’t care. Hood was ecstatic, genuinely emotional on a Saturday conference call with local media.
He was excited to be a Raiders. He was over the moon about working with Marshawn Lynch.
The 220-pound power runner has tried to emulate the Oakland native, who became a Raider on Wednesday. Learning from him is a dream come true.
“Marshawn is the back who I’ve modeled my game after the most,” Hood said. “I just can’t wait to be in that running back room with him. He has so much to offer. He’s a veteran and a professional is how he conducts business. I feel like I have so many questions I need to ask, and so much I need to learn from him about what it takes to be successful. He’s the man I wanted to become as a running back.”
Lynch ranks high among the most elusive, physical, tackle-breaking backs of his generation, and Hood will be a sponge whenever he’s around his new teammate.
The running back room is full, with Lynch, DeAndre Washington, Jalen Richard and Jamize Olawale. That’s the group expected to hit the regular season, but Hood believes he can earn a spot and continue to develop with the organization.
He dropped more than 10 pounds this offseason to be a more elusive runner, without losing his trademark power rushing style. Hood hopes to stick around and earn more carries in time.
“I have nothing but work ahead of me, and I can’t wait to do it,” Hood said. “I’m so blessed to be with this team and work with the running backs already there.”