Interesting bits from first Raiders OTA session

Kicker Sebastian Janikowski showed up for Monday's OTA session, even though it was voluntary

The Oakland Raiders held their first Organized Team Activity open to the media on Monday, with everyone attending besides quarterback Kyle Padron and running back Deonte Williams.

Williams and Padron were out due to being on the quarter system in school, leaving them forced to stay at their respective colleges to finish out the school year.

“I think that just goes to show the type of guys that we are bringing into the program here,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “These guys have done a great job all the way throughout the offseason program. I think we’ve had about 98 percent attendance throughout the offseason program, for the first five weeks. I think it’s important that we’re all out here, I think it’s important that we’re all getting the work and we’re doing this thing as a team.”

Though the team did have some players not able to practice due to injury: tight end Nick Kasa (hamstring), Tracy Porter (calf), Josh Cribbs (knee) and Miles Burris (knee).

Monday marked the first chance for much of the media to see quarterback Matt Flynn in a Raiders

Quarterback Matt Flynn appeared in front of local media for the first time Monday

jersey. Flynn looked confident and accurate throwing the ball, especially on the short to intermediate routes. He did a nice job of getting the ball out on time and putting it in a spot to have his receivers make a play and get down field.

“I think he’s looked pretty good,” Allen said of his new quarterback Flynn. “Obviously this is the first day that we’ve actually been out there and had the chance to go offense versus defense, so we still have a long way to go. Again, just like everybody else, the key is these guys are out here working and they’re trying to do everything that we’re asking them to do. We’re going to let the whole process play out, and I think, nothing’s set in stone with what we’ve got right now.”

Allen went on the state that this is all part of the evaluation process and teams have a better understanding of what they have in their players the further they are in the offseason process.

Terrelle Pryor and rookie Tyler Wilson hope to have an opportunity in taking over Flynn for the starting job. Pryor struggled today with inconsistency, making some nice plays at times but following them up with poor throws that weren’t catchable by his receivers. He will certainly need to step his game up this offseason or else he won’t even be the second string quarterback this year.

Wilson followed up a good rookie mini-camp with a decent OTA session Monday. He showed off his cannon on multiple occasions by zipping the ball through defenders to get it to his receiver. Though, rookie mistakes did happen as he tried to drop a ball off short but was nearly picked by linebacker Keenan Clayton.

“I think he does some good things,” Allen said of his young quarterback. “Obviously, he’s a rookie and he’s got a long way to go. He’s not the finished product. The same thing I would say about him just like I would any rookie: just put your head down and go to work; try to get better everyday; try not to make the same mistakes day-in-day-out and continue to get better. I think with his type of work ethic, he’s willing to do that.”

One thing of note is that defensive back Brandian Ross has moved to the free safety position. Allen stated that he feels Ross’ skills set fits him to make the switch and said that he has a history of doing this, citing his time in New Orleans.

In another move, second-year offensive lineman Tony Bergstrom got reps as the starting left guard. Allen stated that it was their intentions when they drafted him to kick him inside and have him play left guard, once again stating that the position fits his skills better.

The starting offensive line at this point looks to be as follows: Jared Veldheer (LT), Bergstrom (LG), Stefen Wisniewski (C), Mike Brisiel (RG), and Khalif Barnes (RT). Barns is still getting first team reps at right tackle, but the coaching staff may just be beginning slow with rookie tackle Menelik Watson.

Wide receiver Jacoby Ford was back on the field following his season-ending injury last year

It was good seeing Jacoby Ford and Darren McFadden out on the field making sharp cuts. They practiced at full speed and didn’t appear to be hurting at all from last seasons’ foot injuries.

On interesting battle that will likely take place up until roster cuts is that of the wide receiver position. Un-drafted wideouts Sam McGuffie and Conner Vernon are fun to watch. McGuffie used his 5-foot-10 build to stay low to the ground and make quick cuts. He’s a very shifty athlete. Vernon never seems to drop a pass and runs very crisp routes. He’s not quick, but his crisp route running gave him at least 10-yards of separation on a double move at one point during Monday’s practice.

The tight end position is another point of competition this offseason, and it appeared to be incumbent David Ausberry that got the most of the reps. That being said, they spent a lot of time rotating new tight ends in and out in an effort to help evaluate their situation.

Rookie linebacker Sio Moore was once again moved around on the field. He seems to be every bit as versatile as advertised, with the ability to drop back in coverage and stay with his assignment, as well as getting on the line of scrimmage and getting to the quarterback.

The Raiders next OTA session open to the media is next Tuesday, May 28.


Author: Chris McClain

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