NAPA – Raiders tight end Jared Cook hasn't formally spoken to teammate Marshawn Lynch about his decision to sit during the national anthem during Saturday’s exhibition opener against Arizona.
It’s assumed by many to be in protest of racial inequality and mistreatment of minorities, especially on the heels of racially fueled violence in Charlottesville, Va. Count Cook among them.
The veteran running back has remained mum on the matter in public and, with Cook at least, in private.
If he was in fact protesting by sitting out the national anthem, tight end Cook is glad Lynch took a stand. Cook has stood up against racial inequality, most notably after racial unrest caused by police shootings in Ferguson, Mo., while with the St. Louis Rams. He said it’s vital to speak out against injustice.
“I’m proud of him,” tight end Jared Cook told reporters, with quotes via the Associated Press. “I think it’s awesome. Everybody has points of discussion after what happened in Charlottesville just the night before. I think it’s important for men in our position to step up and speak on unnecessary situations we find ourselves in as minorities in this country. That’s why I’m proud of him.”
Former 49ers Colin Kaepernick became the face of the anthem protest movement last year, when he kneeled during the national anthem and was joined by others around the league.
Cook said he has thought about joining a new round of protests, including one executed by Seattle’s Michael Bennett before a Sunday exhibition against the Los Angeles Chargers. Unlike Lynch, Bennett articulated his reasoning well in postgame comments. Cook said it’s uncertain whether he’ll join in.
“As far as the future goes, I don’t know. I don’t know,” he said. “I know I feel uneasy about the situation going on in this country and have been for a while.”
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.