No announcement yet.

Raiders Minicamp

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Raiders Minicamp

    <H1 _extended="true">Raiders rookies try to impress coaching staff

    Associated Press

    ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Darren McFadden's spot on the Oakland roster was assured the minute the Raiders used the No. 4 overall pick on him in last month's draft.
    Jed Jacobsohn / Getty ImagesDarren McFadden is expected to give the Raiders an offensive boost.
    For most of the other players at the team's rookie minicamp Friday, it was time to prove to coach Lane Kiffin and his assistants that they too were worthy of NFL careers.
    Because of a variety of trades, the Raiders' second pick in the draft didn't come until the fourth round, when they selected safety Tyvon Branch out of Connecticut. They also added receivers Arman Shields (fourth round, Richmond) and Chaz Schilens (seventh round, San Diego State), and defensive end Trevor Scott in the sixth round from Buffalo.
    Considering that Kiffin cut one of his third-round picks last season, defensive end <A href="" _extended="true"><A href="" _extended="true">Quentin Moses</A _extended="true"></A _extended="true">, before the start of the regular season, these four players know that getting drafted offers no assurances in the NFL.
    "I'm not really nervous about it, but I know I have to perform to stay around," Branch said. "You've got to perform in this league, and that's what I'm looking forward to doing."
    Branch figures to be best positioned of the second-day draft picks to make the team because safety was a weakness for Oakland last season. Branch also was an accomplished kick returner in college and the Raiders lost their top two kick returners -- Chris Carr and Dominic Rhodes -- in the offseason.
    Brach averaged 28.9 yards per kick return with two touchdowns and also played on coverage units last year for the Huskies, offering versatility that is important when it comes to filling out a roster.
    "It's definitely a great opportunity for me," he said. "They lost both their returners so I'm looking forward to stepping up and competing for that job. Just working hard and hopefully getting on the field. Whenever you can come out and play special teams it adds value, and this is a league where you've got to have some value in order to play."
    The draftees were joined on the first day of a three-day camp by undrafted free agents like former Washington running back Lewis Rankin, players on a tryout like former Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller and a few returning players who had not accrued enough playing time to lose their rookie status.
    The most intriguing of those was running back Michael Bush, a fourth-round pick who missed all of last season recovering from a broken leg. Now Bush is expected to compete to be in the rotation at running back with McFadden, returning starter Justin Fargas and LaMont Jordan.
    Bush and McFadden were scheduled to address the media on Saturday.
    Branch and Schilens are hoping to put themselves in the mix at receiver after struggling with injuries their final season in college.
    Branch had 11 catches against Vanderbilt in the season opener for Richmond last season before a knee injury essentially ended his year. After rehabbing his knee, Branch got invited to the NFL combine where he shined and caught the Raiders' attention.
    "I think Shields would have gone much higher if it hadn't been for him missing his senior year except for the first game," Kiffin said. "It was kind of those deals like Michael Bush, where the value right there exceeded the other people on the board at that time."
    Schilens missed four games with a stress fracture in his foot, but had 22 catches for 495 yards in his final three games at San Diego State. Kiffin said Schilens was a player who looked better in workouts than he did on film and was worth taking a chance on in the seventh round,
    Oakland Raiders

    Schilens wasn't sure he was even going to get picked before Oakland used the 226th selection on him and was prepared to join the Raiders as an undrafted free agent to get to work with receivers coach James Lofton.
    "I always felt that I was a player who got better year to year and game to game," Schilens said. "I feel like I'm constantly learning. As far as numbers-wise, yeah, they weren't the greatest, but I consistently took steps forward to make myself better. The whole thing with my foot really held me back. So, you just got to keep working."
    Scott is a converted tight end who turned himself into an NFL prospect when he switched to defensive end for his final two seasons at Buffalo.
    "I can't describe to you how excited I am, just to be fortunate enough to get the opportunity to play here," he said. "Even though it was a late round, I wasn't even expecting late round. I was expecting free agency so I'm very excited and just because I was late round it's not going to determine my style of play or how well I'm going to do here."
    There were some encouraging signs, but “fantasy camp” being what it is, there was nothing shocking about the first day of the Raiders rookie minicamp other than the sight of Rob Ryan with short hair.
    The “fantasy” reference, used by some teams around the league, has to do with the miniscule chance many of the campers have of actually making the team.
    Ryan got the haircut for charity _ the friend of one of his children urged him to visit the barber for “Locks of Love,” a non-profit group which provides hairpieces for financially disadvantaged children who have lost their hair due to a medical condition.
    As for the rest of Day 1, the thing coach Lane Kiffin seemed most pleased about was a relatively smooth 90-minute practice with 41 players who had never set foot on the field as a team at the same time.
    There was only one turnover _ an interception thrown by quarterback Jeff Otis to Ronnie Pentz, a linebacker out of the University of San Diego in on a tryout basis.
    “So many of these, you see guys going the wrong way, run into each other, balls on the ground and guys are getting lined up (improperly),” Kiffin said. “I was very impressed with the players today as far as their carryover from what they learned last night and this morning.”
    Among the Day 1 snapshots:
    – Running back Darren McFadden seemed to handle the ball less than either Michael Bush or Louis Rankin, the latter an undrafted free agent out of Washington. Kiffin said the three were getting snaps on an equal basis.
    McFadden made a couple of nice bursts up the middle and once was stacked up outside before breaking free, as defenders are not allowed to make tackles. He never caught pass in a scrimmage situation, at one point flaring into the open as quarterback Brian White, an undrafted free agent out of Portland State, went in another direction.
    – Bush ran with a smooth athleticism that belied his size at some 250 pounds, and looked natural catching a pass over the middle and pulling away from a linebacker. He glided through holes, and it will be fascinating in July to see what happens the first time a defender really attempts to lay him out.
    – During one receiving drill, wide receivers Drisan James, Marcel Reese, Todd Watkins, Chaz Schilens and Arman Shields all had drops, getting varying degrees of critique from wide receivers coach James Lofton.
    Things went much better in actual scrimmage or seven-on-seven drills against defenders. James got loose behind undrafted free agent David Lofton for a long gainer with White connecting on the pass. Lofton came up injured on the play and left the field with the athletic training staff.
    Lofton, who played at Stanford and last season in the Canadian Football League, is the son of James Lofton.
    – Sam Keller, an undrafted free agent in on a tryout basis, got a handful of snaps and threw the ball as well as White and better than Otis, with Erik Meyer getting extremely limited work at quarterback.
    His best pass might have been a touch pass into the middle of the field which glanced off the hands of undrafted free agent tight end Darrell Strong of Pittsburgh.
    Keller, a local high school star at San Ramon Valley High, started at Arizona State but transferred to Nebraska when Sun Devils coach Dirk Koetter reversed an earlier position and made Rudy Carpenter the starting quarterback instead.
    Carpenter not only had the support of his teammates, but of former Sun Devil quarterback Andrew Walter. Keller and Walter would be teammates again if he earns a contract this weekend.
    – Keller was in Tampa for a tryout with the Bucs last week. The Bucs, with seven quarterbacks under contract, did not offer to make Keller the eighth but he he remains on file because of his knowledge of the system, having played under Bill Callahan at Nebraska.
    With the Raiders holding their rookie camp a week later than most teams, it gives them a chance to have players in who tried out for other teams but were not signed.
    Rookies present at the current minicamp will not be eligible to be in Alameda next week when veterans begin coming in for organized team activities.
    – Pentz, the linebacker who came up with the lone turnover of the practice, found success is a play-to-play proposition. He was victimized on the next two plays, the first a pass from Otis to Bush over the middle and again when White hit Rankin on a flare pattern to the right.
    – The linebacker who seemed to be getting to the ball first most often, although unable finish plays, was Malik Jackson of Louisville, who was drawing praise from Ryan and linebackers coach Don Martindale.
    – Kicker Andrew Larson of Cal was brought in, and he spent almost all of his time alone with one member of the supporting staff, attempting field goals.
    – During scrimmage sessions, the offensive linemen getting the most work were Noah Sutherland (UCLA) at right tackle, Jonathan Palmer at left guard, Adam Speiker (Missouri) at center, Jesse Boone at left guard and Brandon Rodd at left tackle.
    – Sutherland was one of 15 players not under contract who was brought in for a tryout. He was joined by Keller, Larsen, cornerback Brandon Hampton (Cal), cornerback Tim Sims (Stanford), cornerback Brian Williams (Washington State), David Lofton, defensive back Dominic Patrick (Arizona), Pentz, linebacker Greg Van Hoesen (Cal), defensive end Tranell Morant (Arizona), offensive lineman David Howell (Portland State), offensive lineman Shannon Tevaga (UCLA), defensive lineman David Faaeteete (Oregon), defensive lineman George Chukwu (Rice) and wide receiver Marcel Reece (Washington).
    – When Kiffin first saw Ryan, he felt his defensive coordinator and his twin brother Rex, the defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens, were playing a prank.
    “On Monday, when he came in, I really thought it was his brother in my office and Rob was around the corner,” Kiffin said. “I thought maybe his brother was coming to visit and they were playing a trick on me . . . I’ve never seen him with short hair. He looks exactly like Rex.”
    – Safety Tyvon Branch, a fourth-round pick whose skill as a tackler was lauded by Ryan, said he didn’t know for certain he’d been switched to safety until he arrived at minicamp and saw himself listed as a strong safety on the depth chart.
    Branch said he is more concerned with getting the opposing player down than he is delivering the big blow.
    “I’m more of a wrap-up guy. I follow through on my tackles but I still wrap up,” Branch said. “I’m not one to throw my shoulders out there.”
    – At 208 pounds and climbing, Branch, competing for the job of kickoff return specialist vacated by Chris Carr, will provide a bigger, more physical presence. Branch had two 97-yard kickoff returns for touchdowns last season at UConn.
    “One of the returns I scored off was like a straight line return, one cut,” Branch said. “Then I had one where I made a couple moves, made a couple miss. I have a lot of versatility back there. It’s a thrill. It’s an adrenalin rush. Everybody’s coming out to kill you so you’ve got to do your thing out there or you’re going to get hurt.”
    The Raiders did some special teams drills, but did not return any kicks Friday.
    – Either Sheilds or Schiens have the physical stature to be the kind of big, fast outside receivers the Raiders are seeking in the JaMarcus Russell era, and both had their moments during scrimmage sessions.
    With Shields playing just one game before suffering a torn posterior cruciate ligament, Kiffin likened him to Bush as a player who would have been drafted much higher had he not been hurt. Shields was taken with the Fabian Washington pick in the fourth round.
    Kiffin said Schilens was taken largely on the strength of his postseason workouts and sounded like more of a work in progress.
    “Schilens, after the season, ran a really good time and really impressed us in some workouts that he had after the season,” Kiffin said. “His film wasn’t as good, necessarily, but his offseason workouts were and we really felt he improved enough to take a chance on him.”
    – “Chaz” is not short for Charles, but for “Chazeray” Schilens.
    – Absent from practice was wide receiver Jonathan Holland, a seventh-round draft pick last season who spent the season on injured reserve because of an injured shoulder.
    Kiffin said Holland was not allowed to play by the athletic training staff and would be re-avaluated.
    – If Scott is going to play much this season, chances are it will be as a situational pass rusher. He said he weighs 255 pounds and was told by Keith Millard to stay at a weight which will help him retain his quickness, so he isn’t likely to morph into a base end any time soon.
    A left end in college, Scott is lining up at right end with the Raiders, the opposite side of where Derrick Burgess starts.
    – Visitors included wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff, who spent most of practice talking with Mark Davis, son of Raiders owner Al Davis, and former Raiders linebacker William Thomas.
    Thomas spent practice with scouts Jon Kingdon and Calvin Branch, and is said to be interested in working in a personnel department. Thomas, one of the league’s top coverage linebackers with the Eagles and Raiders, retired after the 2001 season.

    "The liberator who destroys my property, is fighting to save my spirit. The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free."-Tyler Durden

  • #2
    I like us bringing in Sam Keller.Ive always been a big fan of his and he fits well in our offense.
    Shannon Tevaga could also do very well in our scheme.
    "The liberator who destroys my property, is fighting to save my spirit. The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free."-Tyler Durden


    • #3
      Saturday, May 10th, 2008 at 4:00 pm in Oakland Raiders.

      After keeping Darren McFadden in the garage for a day, the Raiders took him out for a spin to see how he could perform on the open road Saturday.

      Practice ended with McFadden taking a pitch from quarterback Brian White and beating a linebacker to the corner and streaking downfield for an offensive “win.”

      It’s no secret that McFadden is fast.

      What I wanted to see was the receiving skills Lane Kiffin had been raving about, the ones which McFadden insisted he had even though they were rarely exploited at Arkansas.

      Nothing is for certain until McFadden actually catches some passes in traffic in full-contact situations, but indications are that the Raiders have themselves their first legitimate threat out of the backfield since Charlie Garner, with the added bonus being that Michael Bush looks fluid and natural catching the ball as well.

      McFadden caught passes out of the backfield. He caught them split out as a wide receiver. He sliced inside a helpless Brian Williams for a catch and run. He even lined up as quarterback taking shotgun snaps less than 24 hours after Kiffin cautioned about throwing too much at the rookie too soon.

      “I thought Darren had a really impressive day, adding a lot to the offense,” Kiffin said. “We got him outside and did some really good things, as well as Michael Bush outside as well.”

      Before taking the field, McFadden, in an interview session compared himself with Vikings rookie star Adrian Peterson.

      “We’re both big, fast guys,” McFadden said. “He’s probably a little more physical than I am but as far as just natural play-making and talent, I feel like I have an edge on any running back. Not saying it to be cocky or anything but I feel like I’m very versatile and I can play a lot of different positions.”

      More Day 2 snapshots:

      – San Ramon Valley High product Sam Keller continued to get extensive work during his tryout, which ends Sunday. He made soem good throws but wasn’t as sharp as on Saturday.

      He had one pass batted down by defensive lineman Tranell Morant of Arizona.

      “You either produce or don’t produce,” Keller said. “They either like you, or they say, `get out of town.’ I’m going to enjoy my three days and see what happens.”

      – McFadden expressed confidence that his contract should not be a problem and that he would be at training camp on time. There is no reason to think that won’t be the case.

      Last year’s fiasco with JaMarcus Russell, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, was the only time the Raiders have ever had trouble bringing in a draft pick. The market for McFadden’s deal will be set both those immedately after and before him, and chances are it will be a much easier exercise.

      – Fullback Matthew Hahn dropped an easy swing pass from Jeff Otis, but that didn’t prevent linebacker Malik Jackson from getting scolded for being a late arrival.

      “You’re making it hard on yourself,” linebackers coach Don Martindale said. “You’ve got to close that gap.”

      – Raiders defensive backs were generally victimized by receivers for the second straight day, even though the quarterback play was spotty.

      Todd Watkins made a couple of nice catches, including one over the middle with hands high at the top of a leap.

      Watkins is 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, and draftees Arman Shields (6-1, 195) and Chaz Schilens (6-4, 225) are bigger than the defensive backs that cover them. Marcel Reece, in for a weekend tryout, is 6-3, 235). Only Drisan James (5-11, 185) qualifies as a smaller receiver. Oakland’s veterans are also on the large side other than last year’s third-round pick Johnnie Lee Higgins (5-11, 185).

      The Raiders should have plenty of large targets to choose from for quarterback JaMarcus Russell.

      – McFadden kept the ball securely tucked in his right arm throughout practice and did not have anything close to a fumble.

      Running backs coach Tom Rathman said McFadden’s mechanics were flawed in college.

      “I told him he’s got to lock his elbow down,” Rathman said. “A lot of times his elbow wasn’t locked to the side, and obviously if you don’t have that point, which is the most critical point in my opinion, as far as the four points of pressure, you’re going to have some issues.”

      By Rathman’s count, four of McFadden’s fumbles came at Arkansas while at quarterback, and two on kickoff returns, making his fumble stats seem worse than they really were.

      – Rathman’s assessment of McFadden’s running style: “You talk about running to a spot, putting a foot down and accelerating, that’s what he is. Very similar to Justin Fargas, in style. A little more upright, as a runner, kind of an Eric Dickerson style, shoulders up, great slasher, can accelerate, separate from a defender. It’s going to be great this year. It really is.”

      – The offensive line of right tackle Noah Sutherland, right guard Jonathan Palmer, center Adam Spieker, left guard Jesse Boone and right tackle Brandon Rodd kept quarterbacks clean for the most part.

      Offensive line, considering the Raiders scheme, would be one of the most likely positions for an unknown commodity to make a run at the 53-man roster.

      – Kiffin compared the situation of Bush this season to the one Fargas experienced last year. Fargas, seemingly buried behind LaMont Jordan and Dominic Rhodes, had his breakout season with 1,009 yards.

      “I actually talked to Justin about it, he said, ‘It’s OK, just hang in there,’ ” Bush said. “And I wasn’t really nervous about not playing. I was just worrying about where would I stand in an offensive standpoint. But things happen. They released Dominic, which I didn’t think they was gonna do. Things turn out differently.”

      – Rathman talked glowingly of the stable of running backs, but stressed the Raiders won’t hesitate to move backs in and out based on production.

      “I don’t care if you were the fourth round pick, one of the top guys of the SEC that have ever come out as a runner, I don’t care if you’re Justin Fargas ran for 1,009 yards,” Rathman said. “I mean, we have a standard here of the play that we want to present as a group of running backs, and we’re going to hold everybody that suits up and steps out on that field to those standards. When you’re not able to get it done to those standards, we’re going to go to the next guy.”
      10 characters.
      "The liberator who destroys my property, is fighting to save my spirit. The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free."-Tyler Durden


      • #4
        Day 3, from Jerry Mac:

        Even if Darrick Brown and Marcel Reece never make it to training camp, at least they’ll have a nice shiny Raiders helmet to put in their trophy case.

        As the Raiders concluded a three-day rookie minicamp Sunday, Brown and Reece were given helmets as a reward, with defensive coordinator Rob Ryan giving one to Brown and offensive coordinator Greg Knapp handing one to Reece.

        “(They were) best effort guys, one on offense, one on defense, doing what we talked about on the first day,” coach Lane Kiffin said.

        Brown, who played cornerback, was signed as an undrafted free agent out of McNeese State. Ryan told the group Brown showed improvement every day. Reece, who would seem to have a good shot at being signed to a contract, was in on a tryout basis and played wide receiver, tight end and even a little running back.

        Besides being award for their level of effort, Brown and Reece happen to be two of the most physically imposing rookies in camp.

        A rangy 6-foot-4, 200 pounds, Brown was a Louisiana long jump, triple jump and high jump chapion in high school as well as a standout on the McNeese State track team. In fact, all his college highlights listed at the Raiders Web site have to do with his track career.

        Brown, who also played some wide receiver in college, had 34 tackles and a fumble recovery as a senior at McNeese State. His brother Marcus, who went to the same school, signed as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals.

        At 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, Reece was second in receiving at the University of Washington with 39 receptions for 761 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 19.5 yards per reception.

        Reece had a big gainer during practice Sunday when quarterback Jeff Otis play-faked to Michael Bush and hit him in stride with a reverse roll.

        More Day 3 snapshots:

        – Who says the Raiders don’t blitz? Inside linebacker Shane Simmons blew through untouched up the middle and dropped Otis for a loss.

        – Wide receiver Will Buchanon broke free between Nick Sanchez and Dominic Patrick but couldn’t hold on to a slightly off-target pass from Sam Keller on a deep sideline pattern. Keller also misfired to an open Todd Watkins against the coverage of Patrick and Brian Williams.

        Watkins had his second straight impressive day after struggling on Day 1.

        – Fifth-round draft pick Trevor Scott beat left tackle Brandon Rodd with an outside rush and force Otis to look for room up the middle.

        – Nice day for defensive tackle George Chukwu, a tryout player out of Rice. Chukwu blew up one rushing play, knifing through against running back Louis Rankin, and then pounced on a fumbled snap by Otis at quarterback.

        – Otis connected on a fade pattern for a touchdown over Patrick to seventh-round draft pick Chaz Schilens.

        – One new face on the Raiders coaching staff belongs to John Fassel, son of former NFL head coach and Raiders assistant coach Jim Fassel. Fassel is an assistant special teams coach under Brian Schneider.

        – The Raiders have not signed veteran defensive end Greg Spires but hope to finalize a deal as soon as today. The word is they have inquired about free agent wide receiver/kickoff return specialist Koren Robinson but have had no serious talks about bringing Robinson in.

        – Wide receiver Arman Shields missed practice Sunday to be with his graduating class at Richmond.

        – Kiffin said he expects “97 to 98 percent” attendance when the Raiders begin voluntary organized team activities, which run Tuesday through Thursday. There is media availability scheduled for Thursday.

        OTA practices are instructional in nature with no contact.

        – After saying Friday that wide receiver Jonathan Holland had been held out of practice by the training staff, Kiffin said Sunday Holland actually was not eligible for the rookie minicamp because he spent last season on injured reserve, as opposed to the Physically Unable to Perform list. Holland worked out virtually every day alongside Michael Bush last year, but since Bush was on PUP, he was eligible and Holland was not.

        Kiffin said Holland is expected to attend OTAs starting Tuesday.
        10 characters
        "The liberator who destroys my property, is fighting to save my spirit. The teacher who clears all possessions from my path will set me free."-Tyler Durden



        Debug Information