It was the first day back for the players after having Wednesday off. They practiced without pads, today, and there was a noticeable lack of crispness at points, especially for the offense.
Dennis Allen said that he didn’t think the day was too bad considering the fact that the players were re-acclimating after their first day off. Allen said, “As far as practice went out here today, I was real pleased with the way that the guys responded after the day off.” He added, “A lot of times after you come in after a day off, it is a little bit sloppy, a little bit lackadaisical, but I thought both sides of the ball practiced at the right tempo and practiced the right way.”
-With respect to Allen’s opinion, from my perspective it wasn’t the best day for receivers. One on one drills, which should give the offense an advantage as there is no pass rush and no defensive schemes for which to account, were disappointing for the receivers who failed to get separation and come down with passes.
Juron Criner, in particular, had a poor time of it allowing two passes to bounce off his hands in rapid succession.
Greg Jenkins, who is making a push for a roster spot as a former college QB turned WR, had a good pass I saw in which nickel corner Joselio Hanson had tight coverage and was able to get an arm in but Jenkins had the hand grip to pull the ball into his body for a completion. Hanson walked away from that one cursing at himself for not making a play.
-Earlier this week, Dennis Allen had said that Tracy Porter and Joselio Hanson were going to be the primary nickelbacks, saying, “It’s a whole different world in the nickel. It’s a unique position because it’s a cornerback spot that’s part linebacker too. It takes a special ability, a unique skill set to play in the slot. That’s true from a physical standpoint and a mental standpoint.”
He explained their plans for the future, saying, “Right now, we’re going to leave DJ outside and we’re going to let him get comfortable there. Primarily, we’ll use Joselio Hanson and Tracy Porter in that spot.”
That statement is a bit ambiguous as to who will be the starter, although it seems to indicate that rookie DJ Hayden is in good contention to be a starter. It could mean, however, that Porter will remain a starter outside but move over to the nickel corner position on three or more receiver sets with Hayden coming into one of the outside spots in that situation.
Whichever will occur, Porter is still working as a starter outside for now and Hayden is still working with the second-team.
Also, Hayden is still wearing the red no-contact jersey as of now and coach Allen said there is no set timeline as to when he’ll shed the red at this time.
-In a recent piece, I said that I felt that Taiwan had a decent shot of making the team because of his versatility. He is a very strong special teams player, is working hard to learn the cornerback position in this camp and can also contribute at running back if the team felt pinched at that position (raise your hand if you expect McFadden to make it through the year unscathed; yeah, me neither).
Coach Allen weighed in on Jones, saying “Taiwan is probably one of the better special teams players in the league. So, I think that’s always going to come down and be a factor when we start looking at the roster. I think special teams will be a big factor in that for him.”
Jones, who played defensive back in college before moving to running back, is struggling a bit to pick up the nuances of the cornerback position but he had a couple of nice plays today including one in which he was running stride for stride with Greg Jenkins, in his hip pocket. The ball ended up being over-thrown, anyway, so Jenkins couldn’t make a play on it but Taiwan was in a good position to make a play unless it was thrown perfectly.
There was another play in which Taiwan was in coverage with rookie Brice Butler on the full team drills and he made a nice play to batt down a pass that would have otherwise allowed Butler to turn up field.
-No real updates on injuries. Allen said he hopes to have Jacoby Ford, Stacy McGee and Lucas Nix back soon but didn't give any specifics on the injuries. Lamarr Houston and Brandian Ross were new additions to the injury list. Ross didn't practice at all and Allen said that Houston wasn't able to finish without giving any details. DT Vance Walker made it back onto the field, today, after missing previous practices for an unknown injury. He was the only returning injured player.
-Former Raiders offensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy was in attendance today and he worked with starting tackles Jared Veldheer and Khalif Barnes after all of the other players had already gone in to shower off and change. He also had the largest cigar I've ever seen, which he called a Monster. I can see why.
Also on hand: former Raiders LB Bill Romanowski, who was walking around and observing the team for the first time since minicamp earlier this off-season.
For more Raiders training camp updates, news and analysis, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews