It was day 13 of Raider training camp and their second day of camp since their preseason opening loss to the Arizona Cardinals. In that game the Raiders had several injured players and their absence has shaken up things in camp.
The most notable injury in Thursday’s game was the one that Hiram Eugene suffered. He dislocated his hip and had surgery on Sunday. He should be placed on injured reserve in the coming days, which will open up a roster spot for another free agent signing, perhaps one of the Raider free agents such as former starting right tackle Langston Walker. Or it could be one of the other free agents on the market.
Also injured in that game was undrafted free agent rookie Zac Etheridge. As with most injuries this camp, there has been no time table given for his return or any indication of exactly what his injury entails.
With the Raiders suddenly down two safeties, Jerome Boyd moved back to playing safety. He played weakside linebacker in practice and even got some reps with the first team on Thursday. He was a linebacker in college but was thought to be too small for the position in the NFL so the Raiders moved him to safety.
Boyd showed off his safety skills in practice on Sunday when he raced out to break up a long pass from Denarius Moore who had beaten his man. Trent Edwards thought Moore was wide open along the sideline but Boyd came shooting in from the middle of the field to knock it down. That kind of play may just have the team considering keeping five safeties again this season. His versatility as a linebacker and safety will come in handy and his skill set translates perfectly in replacing Hiram Eugene on special teams.
While Boyd came into the first team for a few plays against the Cardinals, Quentin Groves went out and ended up playing most of the game. Groves has struggled mightily this camp and wanted the extra practice in a live game situation.
That work seems to have done him a lot of good as he has played much better in the two practices since then.
Travis Goethel was looking like he could have beaten out Groves last offseason before he went down with injury. Now with the departure of Ricky Brown, Goethel looks as if he will be taking over as Rolando McClain’s primary backup at middle linebacker.
Goethel got a lot of work in the middle in Thursday’s game and looked quite comfortable there. So far, he appears to be an upgrade to Brown at linebacker. Hopefully he can provide the same level of play on special teams.
Chimdi Chekwa is back practicing for the last two days. He came off the field on the first day of camp hanging his arm by his side. It turns out that he had a separated shoulder, the same shoulder he separated early in his college career which could signal a long term problem. But for now, he is back at practice and should add some much needed depth and competition to an overall weak group of corners.
Also returning from injury was offensive lineman Bruce Campbell. He had hoped to make the transition back to tackle this season but had yet to see the field until Saturday’s practice. It remains to be seen where he will be playing but they will make every effort to put him on the field.
For now, the guard spots seem to have plenty of good candidates. Rookie Stefen Wisniewski has taken more and more first team snaps at left guard. He has looked much more solid there, where his uncle Steve had his Hall of Fame caliber career, than the center position Hue Jackson had him slated for. Samson Satele appears to have locked down the center position yet again; his linemate Cooper Carlisle has not relinquished the right guard spot.
As for the tackle spots, Jared Veldheer has the left tackle position but at right tackle there is a bit of shuffling going on. Khalif Barnes, who had four false starts Thursday, is not the answer. Stephon Heyer has been tried there but he was out of practice on Sunday with a triceps injury. This has opened the door a bit more for Joseph Barksdale to make a push for the job. It is possible we could see Barksdale starting at right tackle next Saturday in San Francisco.
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