NAPA -- Raiders offensive and defensive linemen have been going after each other since the pads came on. They’ll square off in rushing drills, passing situations and, at times, they’ll go heads up one-on-one.
Those battles are a camp highlight, where physicality and technique merge. Guys typically match up against each other over and again in camp, including Kolton Miller vs. Clelin Ferrell and Trent Brown vs. Maxx Crosby and Benson Mayowa off the edge.
Arden Key and Brandon Parker have paired up a few times and, on Tuesday afternoon, head coach Jon Gruden raised the stakes.
Key and Parker would go at it, and whoever won a best-of-three pass-rush series would force the other unit to run.
Parker cast Key aside the first go-round, with Key slipping inside and into the pocket the second time. Key went inside on the grudge match, but Parker pushed him down to win the series.
The offense cheered and watched while defensive players did extra post-practice running.
AB’s back (mostly, anyway)
Star receiver Antonio Brown came off the non-football injury list on Sunday, but Tuesday’s padded practice produced his first extensive action of training camp.
Brown participated in a bit more than half of Tuesday’s work, but had pads off and was playing with his kids during team portions of practice.
Brown was his typical, dynamic self when working, sliding by Gareon Conley and Trayvon Mullen and Keisean Nixon for big plays. Lamarcus Joyner broke up a deep pass aimed for Brown, but he showed no signs of an undisclosed injury that put him on NFI in the first place.
The Raiders have an off day Wednesday, and head coach Jon Gruden believes Brown’s activity could increase after that.
He’s getting close and hopefully after the day off tomorrow he will get closer, but we need him on the grass,” Gruden said. “We need him to get going and he’s chomping at the bit. He’s not a real patient guy and hopefully, it’ll be sooner than later.”
Gruden, Raiders give back to local football programs
Gruden spent some time with players and coaches from five East Bay school after Tuesday’s training camp practice. The pep talk also came with a $25,000 check, split evenly between Oakland High, Skyline, Castlemont, Madison Park Academy and Danville Monte Vista football programs. The donation came from Dick’s Sporting Goods, with Gruden and Raiders coaches and players also providing contributions. Gruden is passionate about the importance of youth sports and its life lessons. He has worked with Dick’s Sporting Goods in the past to provide funds for proper coaching and participation for young people.
“People are trying to cancel youth football. They are trying to cancel youth sports, boys and girls sports,” Gruden said. “There are a lot of geniuses out there that believe youth sports should be canceled. I’m not one of them, so we are trying to support these coaches. Every year they get paid less, their budget gets reduced and the expectations on them become higher, so a credit to our coaches and players and Dick’s Sporting Goods for trying to give five high school programs a lift because these kids want to play and they deserve to play.”
-- Darren Waller had the catch of team drills, adjusting to the ball in the air and plucking it out of tight coverage for a big gain. He does that at least once a practice and continues to be a highlight of Raiders training camp.
-- The Raiders have a fourth passer on the roster, even if he doesn’t technically play quarterback. Tight end Paul Butler can sling it, a point clear during receiver drills early in Tuesday’s practice. The Raiders only have three quarterbacks but had four receivers in the pattern, so Butler threw the last ball out. Most of the time it was a tight, accurate spiral.
-- Travyon Mullen showed he can match to NFL speed, making a leaping pass breakup on a deep ball intended for sprinter J.J. Nelson
-- The Raiders switched sides for positional drills, with defenders working on ball security offensive players working to track back and bat down passes. The effort went a step further in team drills when Mike Glennon purposely threw interceptions and fumbled so the defense could get change-of-direction work.
-- Linebackers Tahir Whitehead and Kyle Wilber both used physicality to pop the ball free and ruin clean receptions in team drills.
-- Defensive tackle Gabe Wright suffered an apparent knee/leg injury late in Tuesday’s practice. He was unstable trying to walk on his own and needed assistance off the field. Gruden didn’t have an immediate update, but the situation seemed initially dire.
-- Gruden wouldn’t disclose the injury keeping rookie defensive end Quinton Bell out of action, but said the outlook was better than the team initially feared. The seventh-round draft pick could be back in the next week or so.
Bell’s a great athlete but raw playing defense, so any time missed is tough. He’s viewed as a developmental prospect who might need a year on the practice squad (or stashed on injured reserve) before a contribution can be expected.
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-- Mullen (wrist) returned after a one-practice absence. Defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes (concussion), guard Jonathan Cooper and Bell all missed practice Tuesday’s practice.
-- DT Ronald Ollie was injured on Saturday and waived on Tuesday after the team signed versatile veteran defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks. Tight end Erik Swoope was also cut, leaving the Raiders roster at 89 and foreshadowing another signing.