NAPA – The Raiders were pretty banged up last week, missing several key players due to injury. That crew sat out Saturday’s preseason opener along with several other scratches sidelined to sustain health.
Several of those guys returned for Tuesday’s padded practice, with some big names among them. Receiver Amari Cooper and edge rusher Khalil Mack returned to work. So did second-round safety Obi Melifonwu.
That’s an important trio.
Cooper was active after missing six of seven practices, and looked great despite wearing a compression sleeve on his left leg.
One play in particular proved Cooper was ready to go. He blew past Antonio Hamilton and Reggie Nelson on a deep post and caught a perfectly timed deep ball from Derek Carr for a touchdown. Cooper made it look easy, and should continue practicing steadily this week.
Mack was limited during team drills, though that was the case when he was healthy. The Raiders have given significant reps to backup James Cowser, who continues to impress working with the first unit. The reigning defensive player of they year has been impactful when active as he moves toward the regular season.
Melifonwu remained limited to a few individual drills as he returns from an undisclosed ailment. He has suited up a few times, but hasn’t participated heavily in over a week.
-- Offensive lineman Denver Kirkland suffered a leg injury during Saturday’s exhibition at Arizona, and was carted to the locker room from the sideline. Head coach Jack Del Rio said Kirkland won’t practice again in camp, which has two practices remaining. Kirkland could be out an extended stretch.
-- Sean Smith got demoted to the second unit last week, was used some as a hybrid linebacker and struggled mightily against the Cardinals. Smith took a small step in a positive direction on Tuesday, with his best practice showing yet. He worked outside in the nickel package – TJ Carrie moved from the outside in – and knocked down a pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the end zone. He made a few other nice plays on the ball working there as well.
-- Antonio Hamilton worked some as a first-unit nickel back over undrafted rookie Breon Borders on Tuesday, though the Raiders jumbled units several times during the practice session.