NAPA, Calif. -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Oakland Raiders training camp:
The Raiders broke camp in Napa after just 13 practices. "We got a lot of good work done here," said coach Dennis Allen. "I like where we’re at. We’re still in training-camp mode going down to Oxnard and practicing against the Cowboys for a couple days. I think that will be great for our football team. Get a chance to go against somebody else for a change ... we’ve gotten a lot accomplished. We still have a lot of things that we have to get better at, but I like the direction we’re headed."
The last time new Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck participated in a joint practice? His rookie season with the New York Giants in 2005, and it erupted into a major brawl with the New York Jets. "The one time we did it," he said, "we went over the top." But can you get in good work without it escalating into a fight, or two? "Sure you can," Tuck said. "It’s good to go and face some people that don’t wear the same colors as you and see different schemes. Dallas, especially their O-line, is a really, really good O-line (so) it’s going to be a challenge for us. Looking forward to it." So what’s the message Allen hopes to impart to his guys? "The message is that we have to treat it like a game and go out there and compete," Allen said. "There won’t be tackling live to the ground or anything like that. We’re going there to compete and try to get better as a football team."
Allen said Sunday that he wanted to see how second-year cornerback DJ Hayden, who worked out with a trainer on a side field that morning for the first time since having surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right foot in late June, responded to said workout on Monday. Hayden was just an observer again for the final camp practice in Napa. Every missed practice makes him a more likely candidate to begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform List.
The prettiest play of the day comes courtesy of rookie quarterback Derek Carr, who hit a wide open Juron Criner on a bomb down the middle of the field. The most eye-opening play? That would be rookie linebacker Khalil Mack, who had a tough time reacting to the ball in the Raiders’ preseason opener at Minnesota, showing quick-twitch skills in breaking up a pass to fullback Marcel Reece in the flat.
With cornerback Chimdi Chekwa nursing a sore knee, rookie Keith McGill took first-team snaps at a corner in the Raiders’ nickel defense package. "That was an opportunity for Keith to get in there in nickel situations and work with the 'ones' some," Allen said. "We haven’t had an opportunity to see a lot of him. So, he’s a guy that obviously we felt highly of coming out in the draft and wanted to get an opportunity to look at him."
Defensive tackle Justin Ellis (concussion), guard Lamar Mady (ankle), cornerback Neiko Thorpe (unknown) and tight end David Ausberry (knee) sat out practice, and linebacker Justin Cole (unknown) returned. Hayden, safety Usama Young (quad) and guard Lucas Nix (knee) remain on the PUP list.
The Raiders’ first of two joint practices with the Dallas Cowboys in Oxnard starts at 3:45 p.m PT on Tuesday.