Originally published on SBReport.net on July 29, 2013
The Oakland Raiders put pads on the for the second-straight day, and in the beginning it looked as if rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden was going to get his first day of physical play as he stretched without the red “no-contact” jersey. As it turned out, Hayden was still required to wear the jersey as he put it on shortly after the team was done stretching.
There’s no question that Hayden himself appears ready take the jersey off and get back to playing physical football, but head coach Dennis Allen wants to take it easier with his young corner.
“He wants to go, he wants to go. I think that’s a great thing about him,” Allen said of the first-round draft pick. “That really speaks to the type of guys that we’re trying to bring in here: guys that love football; they want to practice.
“I’m excited about the fact that he’s ready. Mentally and physically, he’s ready. But we’re going to take a little bit more of a cautious side on that and make sure that he’s totally ready before we put him into contact drills.”
Hayden attempted to participate in a tackling drill on Sunday but was pulled by secondary coach Clayton Lopez just before his turn.
Coaches also had a new, but also familiar, face on the field for them for the first time on Monday: linebacker Omar Gaither.
Gaither originally joined the Raiders towards the end of last season and appeared in seven games, including four starts while disgruntled linebacker Rolando McClain remained off of the field.
With the injury to second-year linebacker Miles Burris, Allen felt it was necessary to get some more depth at the linebacker position.
He was a guy that we felt good about the way that he played for us last year, coming in towards the middle end of the year. At the end of the year, he started some games for us.
“I think his versatility is good for us. He spent a lot of time at Mike linebacker and that’s where we played him today and that’s where we’ll start him out, but he’s a smart enough player and versatile enough player that he can play a couple of positions for us.”
It didn’t take long for Gaither to get thrown right back into the mix as he took plenty of snaps at the middle linebacker position. It also didn’t take long for him to get physical with his fellow teammates.
The linebackers were working on getting off the block and getting to the ball carrier when Gaither gave the ball carrier, who was fellow linebacker Kevin Burnett this time, a nice crack. Just like a typical linebacker’s mentality, Gaither welcomed getting back to the physicality of football.
“It’s just always good to get the pads on after so long. You know, you’re running around with jerseys and pants and all offsesaon you’re working out in the gym and that’s not really playing football, so it’s finally good to get out here.”
The quarterbacks were inconsistent on the field today, missing their mark on numerous occasions. Starting quarterback Matt Flynn threw a couple of balls low while Terrelle Pryor overthrew his target.
On one occasion, Flynn hit second-year wide receiver Juron Criner but the ball was low and Criner had to dive for it, not allowing any run after the catch. Criner had beaten Hayden on a short curl route.
Flynn did later have a good session in the red zone finding his tight ends Richard Gordon and David Ausberry for touchdown passes.
Pryor overthrew one receiver and should have been intercepted by safety Usama Young, but he let the ball hit the ground. Pryor then had wide receiver Brice Butler wide open deep down the field but he overthrew him as well.
Though Pryor was able to bounce back during the last drills of practice to find tight end David Ausberry in the back of the end zone for a touchdown.
All of the quarterbacks had their ups and downs today and will need to become more consistent on the field.
After struggling with drops for the first couple of practices, Oakland’s wide receivers had a better day holding on to the football. Quarterback-turned-wide receiver Greg Jenkins has been one of the players that has struggled with drops at times, but that was not the case on Monday. Jenkins made a couple of nice catches in the end zone towards the end of practice, but he will need to become more consistent.
After losing wide receiver Jacoby Ford to injury yesterday, the Raiders lost four more players on Monday. Offensive lineman Lucas Nix, nose tackle Johnny Jones, defensive tackle Vance Walker, and defensive lineman Brandon Bair were unable to finish practice.
“At the end of the day, it’s really the normal bumps and bruises that you get in training camp and we’ll see how long it takes them to get back,” Allen said of the injuries. “It’s day 2 in pads, so some of those things you’ve got to be able to deal with. And it’s a next-man-up philosophy; get the next man ready.”
The Raiders return to the practice field on Tuesday at 9:20 a.m.