ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders began their third and final week of organized team activities Monday -- they have four practices this week -- and the voluntary workouts were open to the media. Following are some observations...
1. D.J. Hayden is still in a walking boot on his right foot and, as observed last week, the second-year cornerback may not be available to practice until training camp in late July, costing last year's top draft pick valuable reps. "It's hard to tell," coach Dennis Allen said when asked if Hayden would practice before camp. "Initially, I was hopeful of that. Again, we're day by day with D.J. Hopefully we'll have him out here because he needs the work."
2. Oft-injured running back Darren McFadden was among a group of at least seven players returning kickoffs, which was a strange sight considering his injury-filled past. "I think anything's an option," Allen said. "Again, we're looking at a lot of different things, a lot of people in a lot of different areas. There's a ton of things that aren't set. Everything's written in pencil right now."
3. Veteran receiver James Jones missed practice as he worked out on a side field with a strained hamstring.
4. Defensive lineman Justin Tuck and linebacker Kevin Burnett both missed practice, though Allen said they were expected to miss the voluntary workout. "Things that I knew about," Allen said, "and again, I'm really focused on what we're doing out here on the practice field."
5. Second-year offensive lineman Menelik Watson continues to impress Allen and the Raiders would like to see him claim the starting right tackle position. "I've seen significant improvement in Menelik this year. No. 1, he's been out here every day. He's improving on his technique ... the thing I like about where Menelik is right now, I like his mindset, I like his mentality, I like the way he's going about doing his job and I like the way he's working."
6. Third-round draft pick Gabe Jackson, who just signed his rookie contract last week, was getting several looks at left guard with what appeared to be a first-team offensive line. "I like Gabe," Allen said. "Mentally, is where he's really got to work to improve. ... He's a good athlete for a player of his size and I think he's got very good power and he's a lot better pass protecter than people might think. I've been impressed with him."
9. Running back Latavius Murray, who sat out at least last week's open-to-the-media practice with a foot issue, returned to practice.
10. Several Raiders players, including Tyvon Branch, who played in just two games last year due to a broken leg, and Murray, who missed at least one OTA workout in the second session with the aforementioned foot injury, played in a charity basketball game last weekend against the San Francisco 49ers. Allen was not entirely pleased. "No. 1, I'm happy that we were able to get through that without any injuries," Allen said. "I think the intent is the right intent, to raise money for charity. I wasn't in agreement with the way in which they went about doing it because, again, they're paid to play football and anytime you put that at risk, you're talking a significant risk, but again, these are grown men and they make decisions on what they want to do with their personal time and that was a decision that those guys took part in."