Jack Del Rio

Practice report: Raiders close camp with some unresolved issues


Practice report: Raiders close camp with some unresolved issues

NAPA – The Raiders spent 18 days in isolation at the Napa Valley Marriott, pouring complete focus into season prep. Head coach Jack Del Rio considers his team better for the experience.

The Raiders moved back to their Alameda facility after Thursday’s practice, the 14th of this training camp, ready to complete the preseason. The next milestone comes in Saturday’s exhibition against the Los Angeles Rams.

“I think we came in with a purposeful mind going after things, accomplishing things,” Del Rio said. “In terms of installation, in terms of situational awareness and those things, we’re coaching and teaching. I think we were able to work and get guys either back or really close to being back and I feel really good about the way camp went. It was a strong camp. It was very purposeful and very productive.”

The Raiders left relatively healthy, despite longer-term injuries to Keith McGill and Denver Kirkland. There were some issues unresolved during this time.

Donald Penn’s contract holdout continues after nearly three weeks. First-round pick Gareon Conley still hasn’t seen the field while dealing with a shin injury originally suffered in a June minicamp.

Jihad Ward, Ben Heeney and Cooper Helfet joined Conley and Penn as players who didn’t participate in a camp practice.

“I know the natural question is going to hit me on a couple of the guys. Obviously, one is not here, his choice. You have a couple of others that haven’t been able to join us at practice yet, and they’re working,” Del Rio said. “They’re doing everything we’re asking. They’ll come back when they can. Until then, we just move on. We’re looking forward to playing at home this week in front of our crowd. I’m excited about that opportunity to kick that off.”

-- The battle to be quarterback Derek Carr’s backup wages on, though Del Rio said EJ Manuel has a leg up at this stage. That supports what was seen in training camp, when Manuel took most every second-unit snap.

“I think the time we had here and the first game the other night, I think (Manuel) has done a little more, done enough to be in the second slot,” Del Rio said. “I think they’ll continue to alternate reps and both get opportunities to show us. I’m pleased with both of the guys. I thought both guys operated pretty darn well (on Saturday at Arizona).”

-- The Raiders concluded camp with a punt catching contest. Each phase sent a representative to catch a Marquette King punt, with pushups going to the loser. Interior lineman Jon Feliciano caught his volley. So did backup long snapper Andrew East. Defensive tackle Justin Ellis couldn’t corral three angled attempts, meaning the defense had to do pushups.

-- The Raiders held a glorified walk-through practice on Thursday, working in jerseys and shorts. They will hold a formal walh-through on Friday in Alameda before Saturday’s game at Oakland Coliseum.

Del Rio hints at timing around Conley's return


Del Rio hints at timing around Conley's return

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Reggie McKenzie and Gareon Conley played a round of “he said, he said,” recently.

That isn’t a game NFL teams generally like.

McKenzie said on July 31 that the first-round cornerback was on the physically unable to perform list with shin splints, though he didn’t know the particulars.

Conley tweeted Thursday that he didn’t have splints.

That added some uncertainty to the nature of his injury, though it might just be a difference in terminology. The Las Vegas Review Journal reported that Conley has a shin injury that is not shin splints.

Conley has posted about the mix up recently, saying on Twitter he wasn’t aware of what McKenzie said about the reports about his injury.

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio addressed the issue after Saturday night’s 20-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

“There have been some questions about (Conley) and his tweet,” Del Rio said. “The biggest thing is that he’s working his butt off to get back. He’s doing everything we’re asking him to do. He’s been a model teammate, and he’s doing things exactly as he should be. He’s on the mend.

“…He’s going to be fine in a short amount of time, and that’s also a non-issue for me.”

Conley hasn’t practiced since the first day of a June mandatory minicamp, and has been on PUP since the Raiders have been in Napa. The No. 24 overall pick is expected to be the team’s nickel cornerback compete for a starting spot on the outside in the base defense.

Del Rio: According to Lynch, he's always sat during national anthem

Del Rio: According to Lynch, he's always sat during national anthem

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch sat during the national anthem before Saturday’s preseason game at Arizona.

Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio didn’t know he was going to do that. The two discussed it afterward and came to an understanding.

Del Rio prefers his players stand at attention for the national anthem, a view he expressed after former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeled during the song protesting racial inequality and police brutality against minorities.

Lynch told Del Rio he has been sitting forever.

“I talked to Marshawn to make sure we’re on the same page,” Del Rio said after a 20-10 loss to the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. “He said, ‘This is something I’ve done for 11 years. It’s not a form of anything other than me being myself.’ I said, 'So you understand how I feel, I very strongly believe in standing for the national anthem, but I will respect you as a man. You do your thing.’ So it’s a non-issue for me.”

Several media outlets photographed Lynch sitting on a cooler, munching on a banana during the national anthem.

The issue was polarizing when Kaepernick protested last year and was joined by several players across the country. Raiders linebackers Bruce Irvin and Malcolm Smith joined in early last year, by standing through the anthem with a raised fist before a game at Tennessee.

Lynch sitting down was immediately lumped in with those incidents. Lynch voiced support for Kaepernick while speaking to talk-show host Conan O’Brien last year, and Saturday’s sit-down came right after racially-motivated protests and violence recently took place in Charlottesville, Va.

Lynch did not clarify why he generally sits during the national anthem, as he told Del Rio. He left the Raiders locker room before it was open to the media. He did not speak with the press.