The media had their first preview of what the Raider's training camp is all about as players took the field yesterday and ran drills as part of their two-a-day intensive practices.
Of course, the big story of the day was the signing of rookie Darrius Heyward-Bey and his entrance onto the Napa Valley field much to the relief of head coach Tom Cable.
"It’s a credit to him and his people to get him here on time, all those things to not be missing more than one practice," said Cable at his podium speech. "With all the learning that is going on I think this is a really big deal for us."
Although the heat was beating down, the practice itself was pretty cool and timid. Not much time passed after the snap and pass by JaMarcus Russell and the whistle was quick to blow. It seems as if the team is still working out technical difficulties which they did with much precision, according to sources who attended the practice.
Russell, the obvious starter at this point, gave props to four receivers he sees as starters based on their performance at his offseason private practice for the offense. Todd Watkins, Louis Murphy, Will Franklin, and Jonathan Holland were awarded the nod from Russell but Cable declined to announce any starters as of yesterday.
Heyward-Bey's inclusion into the starting lineup looks good, and pretty obvious as a No. 7 pick, but the active Physically Unable to Perform list now includes WR Javon Walker who just opened up a spot, at least, he says, until after the first game against Dallas, and, assuming he continues to attend practice, Heyward-Bey is likely to step in.
Off the record, Derrick Burgess' teammates seemed displeased and confused about his decision to boycott practice. And, as Contra Costa Times reporter Jerry McDonald muses, "public issues with Al Davis over money seldom end well."
Players seemed to be getting accustomed to, and even appreciating, Cable's direction. Strong side linebacker Jon Alston said, "When we get in on Monday, it’s pop, pop, pop, and you don’t have any excuse about rust, because you’ve already had an opportunity to get it out of the way."