Raiders royalty dotted the sideline during Tuesday’s mandatory minicamp practice. Former head coach Tom Flores, defensive lineman Howie Long, cornerback Willie Brown, quarterback Jim Plunkett and tight end Raymond Chester attended the first session of this three-day series, which concludes the offseason program.
Current head coach Dennis Allen introduced the group to the 2014 squad, and mentioned the history each of they made for this storied franchise.
There wasn’t a big message or a motivational speech, but current Raiders appreciated the predecessors showing up. Matt Schaub played for the Houston Texans, a recent expansion team without much history. Having forefathers at practice was a new experience for him.
“It’s awesome,” Schaub said. “Just the tradition and the winning nature of this organization and the history behind it. Having been some other places that don’t have that tradition that stretches that far back, it’s so impressive and it really shows you the close knit group that is the Raiders and the Raider Nation, and how much those former players still are connected to the organization and the franchise and for them to come out and spend a little time out of practice and visit with us here, it’s a neat experience and we want to go out there and try to get back to that type of football.”
The Raiders have an open-door policy with their alumni, and prefer to include them in their present wherever possible.
“I think that’s one of the great things that we have within this organization, is there have been a lot of great players that have come through this organization and made this place what it is,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen. “That’s one of the standards that we want to hold ourselves accountable to and we don’t only represent ourselves, we represent those that went before us. So, I think that was great to have those guys out. I think it added to a little bit of tempo of practice and I thought today was a good practice.”
Linebacker Miles Burris took first-team reps at weakside linebacker during Tuesday’s practice, the same drill as last week’s OTA open to the press. Sio Moore worked primarily with the second team at the weakside linebacker spot.
Last year’s weakside starter Kevin Burnett remains out with an ankle injury. Burris has proven himself healthy and able after missing most of last season with a knee injury.
“Everything we’ve seen so far out of Miles in this offseason has indicated that he’s healthy and he’s ready to go,” Allen said. “He had a really good year for us two years ago, unfortunately last year he was injured for most of the season and we really didn’t have the Miles Burris that we think he’s capable of being. I think he’s had a good offseason and he’s put himself in the mix and we’re going to continue to look at different lineups and let that thing shake out as we go through training camp.”
Allen has stressed the importance of having the starting offensive line play together as much as possible, a luxury he wasn’t afford due to an injury plague last season. The Raiders added several new pieces to this group over the offseason to form a stronger and deeper unit.
While it’s difficult to evaluate offensive line play without pads on, Allen has been impressed by a front five manned by Donald Penn, Khalif Barnes, Stefen Wisniewski, Austin Howard and Menelik Watson from left to right.
“I think that’s a group that I’ve begun to see the beginning signs of that group gelling as a unit, and so you don’t want to get too high or too low when you’re out here in underwear, but that group there I think is beginning to show signs of coming together,” Allen said. “I think if they continue to work and continue to improve, I think we have the makings of a pretty decent offensive line. I like the depth that we have there too.”
Injuries to DJ Hayden and Carlos Rogers paint a clearer picture of the hierarchy at cornerback. After the top three, which includes Tarell Brown and the aforementioned duo, Chimdi Chekwa and rookie T.J. Carrie seem to be next, respectively on the depth chart right now.
[RELATED: Hayden will miss entire minicamp with injury]
I’ll address this more after talking to rookie quarterback Derek Carr on Wednesday, but it must be mentioned now that he’s taking second-team reps over Matt McGloin. He’s received praise from several sources for his intelligence and ability to absorb information and translate it on the field. The kid's got a cannon arm and had a solid practice on Tuesday.
“Derek’s a guy that we like, a player that we like. I think he’s got a lot of potential,” Allen said. “Like I said before, we’re going to look at a lot of different guys in a lot of different lineups. I wouldn’t read too much into that, but obviously it does say that we’ve seen some good things out of him and we’ve liked some of the things that we’ve seen.”