Reggie Nelson, Karl Joseph line up as starting safeties for Raiders

Raiders defensive players run during Friday's opening practice of training camp. AP Photo/Eric Risberg

NAPA, Calif . -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Oakland Raiders training camp:

  • Everyone is healthy, at least when it comes to the projected starters. Yes, that includes the safety tandem of veteran Reggie Nelson and first-round pick Karl Joseph. Both players were running with the first-team defense in the first practice of camp on Friday, a practice that was in helmets and shells. Both looked smooth, considering neither practiced in the offseason program. Joseph, who is listed at 5-foot-10, 207 pounds, looked especially small.

  • The most interesting position battle had a somewhat surprising new leader as it was Austin Howard, rather than Menelik Watson, who was getting first-team reps at right tackle. Watson, a former second-round draft pick who is coming back from a torn Achilles’ suffered last preseason, played with the starters during most of the offseason program.

  • The Raiders appear to be giving DJ Hayden every opportunity to win the nickel cornerback position over TJ Carrie. Yes, Hayden saw the lion’s share of the time there during Friday’s practice and if he cannot make it work in his fourth NFL season, the 2013 first-round pick could be a casualty come cutdown week, especially since Carrie returns punts and adds versatility.

  • Roy Helu Jr. was placed on injured reserve and the team signed defensive lineman Derrick Lott. Helu underwent surgery on both hips this offseason, coach Jack Del Rio said, after rushing for 39 yards on 17 carries and catching nine passes for 75 yards and a TD in nine games last season. Expect an injury settlement with Helu soon. Rookie DeAndre Washington likely will assume the backup running back spot behind Latavius Murray. The Raiders also placed rookie defensive Greg Townsend Jr. on the physically unable to perform list.

  • Middle linebacker Ben Heeney will wear the green dot helmet to communicate with the sidelines as the defensive quarterback, so to speak.

  • Four-time Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece still has three games remaining on his league-mandated suspension, but the former college receiver was adding to his repertoire as he lined up with the tight ends in certain schemes.

  • Defensive lineman Denico Autry (right wrist) was the lone player to sit out practice as he was placed on the PUP list. Rookie guard Vadal Alexander passed his physical.

  • Yes, it was only the first day of camp, but rookie Connor Cook seemingly took a step toward claiming the backup quarterback position over Matt McGloin, who threw a pick-six to James Cowser and fumbled a couple of snaps. Cook looked more comfortable in the pocket against the rush, until he threw an interception into the stomach of SaQwan Edwards. The entire offense had to do up-downs after a lost McGloin fumble. …Jihad Ward recovered a DeAndre Washington fumble. … Michael Crabtree showed burst by taking a quick slant pass from Derek Carr to the end zone, going from right to left.

  • More than 100 former Raiders are expected in Napa for alumni weekend, and those there Friday posed for a group picture. Hall of Famers such as Fred Biletnikoff and Ted Hendricks were at practice, as well as Cliff Branch, Rod Martin, Max Montoya, Jay Schroeder, Steve Buerlein, Billy Joe Hobert and Jeff Hostetler, among others. “Guys like Cotton Davidson that raised me,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said. “They’re excited to be here. I’ve always said the most valuable asset the Raiders have is their alumni. It’s just a great way to start camp.”

  • The Raiders practice again Saturday from 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. PT. They are expected to be in pads on Sunday.

A few tweets from Friday’s first training camp practice: