"Holy Toledo!"

August 6, 2013

News From Oakland Raiders Training Camp

Filed under: NFL, Oakland Raiders — Bill @ 1:26 pm

As chief editor of Holy Toledo, I was able to attend the Raiders afternoon practice at their summer camp home in Napa last week. It had been 29 years since I last visited a Raiders practice, and suffice it to say things were quite different. The first thing that surprised me was that when the players were doing their stretching exercises the field was drowned in loud hip hop music. Yes music! Can you imagine coach Madden allowing such a thing?

Unlike the field at the El Rancho Tropicana, where the Raiders held their annual summer camp until 1985, the field in Napa was immaculate. Fortunate are those kids who get to play football on that field after the Raiders leave town. Not that the football field behind the El Rancho was bad, just not nearly as nice as this one.

Prior to the Reggie McKenzie era no fans were allowed to attend a Raiders practice. Now, on certain days, passes are given to Raiders season ticket holders who sit in bleachers alongside one of the practice fields. Fans are also told that while you can take photos at the start of practice, no cameras are allowed when things get serious.

It was a fun experience, seeing Charles Woodson again in #24, watching the #1 draft pick D.J. Hayden defending against wide receivers, and hearing the thunderous boot as Sebastian Janikowski worked on his kicking game. I certainly am no virgin to watching an NFL team work out, but you forget how big & fast those guys are as they run past you.

Former Raiders RB Taiwan Jones has been switched to defensive back. I had my doubts about this move, but he has looked very good so far this summer. This preseason keep your eye on #22, needless to say it’s a make or break summer for the speedster from Eastern Washington.

With the loss of Pro Bowl punter Shane Lechler to free agency, it has been a given that the new punter would be Marquette King. If you recall King looked terrific last preseason, so much so that the Raiders protected his rights all last year. However quietly the Raiders signed former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, who is a solid kicker with plenty of NFL experience. Watch these two battle it out this preseason, the decision as to which punter to keep will not be an easy one.

If the quarterback position were simply throwing the ball, or being able to scramble & run then Terrelle Pryor would be the easy choice as the starting QB. As you know playing QB in the NFL is much more than that, one must be able to read a defense, & make a proper audible if necessary. This has been the weakness in Pryor’s game, based upon my observations of him so far. In fairness to Pryor, he has only started one NFL game, and a handful of preseason games, so it’s difficult to make a fair analysis based upon such a small sample size.

What I saw of him last week, and based upon what I’ve heard from others who have been watching him very closely, he has looked terrific this summer. Of all the QB’s on the Raiders roster, he has, by far, the best arm. His accuracy has been much improved, he’s looking much more polished, and has been putting in a great effort to sharpen his skills. Yesterday he tossed a 60 yard pass that hit his receiver right between the numbers. The proof for Pryor will be how he performs this preseason, and how he does reading defenses under the pressures of an actual game as opposed to practice.

Former Green Bay Packer & Seattle Seahawks QB Matt Flynn is the odds on favorite to be the Raiders starting quarterback in 2013. Some might recall he started two games at Green Bay, combining for an impressive 9 TD passes in those games. As a starter at LSU he led the Tigers to a national championship . He was drafted in the 7th round of the 2008 draft by Reggie McKenzie when Reggie worked for the Packers. Last year he signed a free agent contract with Seattle and was the projected starter, only to be passed over by the amazing Russell Wilson. Flynn is a bright guy, a pocket type passer with an NFL caliber arm. In the final week of the 2011 season Flynn started for Aaron Rodgers, and threw for 480 yards & 6 TD passes. At 28 years old, and having learned under the wings of some high caliber people, he seems primed to be a solid NFL quarterback. However, like Pryor, he lacks experience and will need to win the starting job for the Raiders.

The battle for the 3rd QB spot on the roster is also an interesting story. The Raiders drafted Tyler Wilson in the 4th round of this year’s draft. Wilson was a 2 year starter at Arkansas, who is a tough guy known for holding the ball until the last moment. When summer camp began he was the odds on favorite to win the 3rd QB job. However the Raiders also signed an undrafted free agent named Matt McGloin. Matt is a high character guy who chose to remain at Penn St. while many of his teammates departed due to the much publicized Jerry Sandusky matter. During his senior year McGloin proved to be a solid team leader and had a terrific season passing for 24 TD’s with only 5 INT’s.

Both QB’s are similar in ability, and this battle could go down to the wire. At the moment one man has pulled slightly ahead, the difference being that McGloin has picked up the Raiders complicated playbook much better than Wilson. It is uncertain how much playing time either will get this preseason, but as of today the edge goes to Matt McGloin.

The good news is that the Raiders have four good young prospects at the quarterback position. The bad news is that all of them have combined for only 3 starts in the NFL.

The Raiders kickoff their 2013 preseason Friday night vs. Dallas at the Coliseum. Be sure to notice that the top deck of Mt. Davis will be tarped off this entire season. This was a decision made by Raiders brass in an effort to reduce the number of TV broadcasts being blacked out. The actual number of seats located up there has never been officially released by the Raiders, but it is believed the new stadium capacity will now be 53,000. Last year it was 65,000 so it doesn’t take a Texas Instrument calculator to figure out that one.

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3 Comments »

  1. Well I hope they have a good start this year and win lots of games.

    Comment by uncle buck — August 6, 2013 @ 3:57 pm

  2. Me too Uncle Buck. Late this afternoon the Raiders released their 1st official depth chart. Interesting that Matt McGloin is listed as the #3 QB & Tyler Wilson is #4. Also they have Chris Kluwe listed as the #1 punter. More on the battle at Tight End later.

    Comment by Bill — August 6, 2013 @ 5:55 pm

  3. Can you please go to the Niners’ camp so I can get a feel for what’s going on there? Outstanding post, my friend. We should hook up and watch some of this sh*t! Holy Toledo!

    Guy

    Comment by Guy Lasky — August 7, 2013 @ 6:10 pm


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