ALAMEDA – The Raiders are officially on summer break. Their offseason program wrapped with a Thursday afternoon minicamp practice, an easier affair where top units rarely left the sideline.
Reserves got extra work. Healthy starters remained that way.
The Raiders concluded nine solid weeks of strength and conditioning, positional work, OTAs and a three-day mandatory minicamp.
Head coach Jack Del Rio believes his team made great strides this spring. Now he doesn’t want any setbacks. He told them so Thursday before setting them free until training camp in late July.
His message, as relayed in a post-practice press conference: “You have to take ownership of this time in the next five weeks to do the right things. Getting ready, get your body ready. Recharge your batteries a little bit. But two, stay out of trouble. Be safe. Make good decisions. That’s what we expect of our guys all the time, but just a reminder. This time of year, more occurrences than ever happen this time of year. Just don’t take any liberties. Don’t take any chances. Don’t take anything for granted. Appreciate where we are and the opportunity that we have and remember that it’s all about the team.”
The general issued clear, direct instructions. His defensive captain reinforced it.
Khalil Mack applied some peer pressure, making sure his guys understood the importance of being responsible.
“When you think about it you have a lottery ticket in your hand,” Mack said. “I tell all the defensive guys that, I take all of the defensive line that. You have a lottery ticket in your hand. You can’t trick it off on doing something stupid in the town messing with this and that. It’s all about being focused and remembering that lottery ticket that you got in your hand is that opportunity that you have to play and do great things and represent your last name.”
Raiders players have done a good job of that in recent years. They haven’t had an arrest since Kory Sheets in 2013. Another clean sheet would help carry positive momentum toward the offseason.
Continues health would also do that. The Raiders have a few players on the shelf. Marshall Newhouse, Austin Howard, Jihad Ward, Darius Latham, Jon Feliciano and Gareon Conley have missed practice recently, but Del Rio didn’t hopes to have the entire roster healthy for the start of training camp.
“Hopefully, yeah,” Del Rio said. “If we have a productive next five weeks, I think that’d be the case.”