ALAMEDA -- One of the little-known provisions of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that ended the NFL lockout this summer was the limited number of padded practices teams could hold during the regular season.The number reportedly agreed upon was 14. In a 17-week season.The Raiders, with three games to go and in the middle of a playoff race, have reached their allotment of padded practices."Oh yeah, we have," Raiders coach Hue Jackson said with a sly smile following Thursday's practice. "It was, I think, last week. There's no more of those and that's the way the league is. I respect that. We're not going to break any rules. We're going to do it right. But, boy, I'd sure like to have (pads) on."
So while no more live hitting in practice might save the players' bodies at the end of a long, grueling, injury-filled season, the skill of actual tackling might diminish, right?Plus, the art of coaching has had to change, too, no?"Yeah, I mean, you have to adjust to it, because there's times when you need pads to sharpen certain things and sharpen fundamentals where you have to say, 'OK, you can't do it this way, but that's OK,'" Jackson said."The emphasis is still the safety of the player, to make sure they haven't been worn down, or grounded down, asa lot of people think they've been in the past. It's still football. At the end of the day you're going to play the game in pads; I think you need to practice in pads. Hopefully, as we move forward, maybe someone will look at some of this from an adjustment standpoint sothere are no potential injuries as you move forward later in the season."