The Oakland Raiders held their ninth practice of Training Camp 2013, presented by California National Guard. Wearing only shells, the team continued to prepare for the preseason, which is only five days away.
The players on both sides of the ball are optimistic about where the team has progressed with less than a week until they face the Dallas Cowboys.
“Feeling good,” said TE David Ausberry. “We’ve got a lot of the offense in and I think we’re moving the ball pretty well. What we want to do is execute and use the different personnel groups to see what we have and see what we’re working with.”
Offensive lineman Andre Gurode joined the Raiders last Sunday and is trying to get up to speed to be ready for the preseason match-up. “I’m just taking snaps with both groups, learning the offense,” said Gurode. “It was hard at the beginning but I’ve picked up a lot and just continue to get better every day.”
Despite recently donning the Silver and Black for the first time, Gurode is looking forward to taking the field with his new teammates. “We’re feeling excited about the opportunity to get on the field and play,” said Gurode. “I think a lot of guys have proven a lot and put a lot of time and effort on the field. We’ve been competing. We’ve been getting a lot better at the things the coaches are trying to get them to do, so we’re looking forward to the first game.”
The guys are ready to play against someone wearing a different color jersey. “I’m excited for the first game,” said RB Jeremy Stewart. “I’m ready to play against somebody else. It’s been a fun camp, but we’re getting sick of beating up on each other so it’ll be fun to beat up on somebody else.”
As much as they want Friday to get here to play that game, the players still have things they want to accomplish in the days leading up to it.
“I think that’s the time where you just want to focus on the techniques and the defense that we’re running,” said CB Phillip Adams. “Focus on the small things that are going to help during the season.”
Now is the time for each guy to hone in on the details of their craft. “Just kind of make sure to zero in on all my responsibilities and make sure I’m ready to go as far as knowing all the little stuff because that’s really the biggest difference the good players and the great players and the bad players,” said Stewart. “I’m just trying to make sure I focus in on all of the intricacies.”
Obviously, the Raiders want to come out of the first preseason game with a win, but each player has additional goals. “First and foremost is a win for the organization,” said Gurode. “And I want everybody to come out and play their best, execute and come out of the game healthy.”
Ausberry is focused on getting each play right. “Stats-wise it doesn’t really matter right now because it’s preseason, but just to be able to execute under pressure and have 100 percent assignments,” said Ausberry.
“Besides winning, just all the things such as effort, always running to the ball and those little things,” added Adams. “We want to make sure the slate is very clean going into the season.”
The preseason games are opportunities to put good plays on tape and make a push for a spot on the 53-man roster. “I just want to go out there and make some plays, show that I have big-play ability and just go out there and have fun,” said Stewart.
The coaching staff will begin looking at the match-up with the Cowboys after the Hall of Fame game this evening, but the Raiders main focus on game day will be their own execution. “Obviously you want to give your guys an opportunity to have success and understand some of the things that they’re going to see offensively, defensively and in the kicking game,” said Head Coach Dennis Allen. “But it’ll be a lot more about what we do, being able to play out our rules and focus on what we’re trying to get accomplished.”
Friday night’s match-up between the Raiders and the Cowboys will be the first NFL game for the rookies on the Silver and Black’s roster. Adams, Ausberry, Gurode, and Stewart have all been through a preseason before. They want the rookies to remember that Friday’s game is just football.
Adams message to the rookies: “Just let it go. Let loose. You practice all this time and you’re learning your plays and everything like that during practice and when game time comes, let it loose. Believe in your abilities, believe in what the coaches have taught you to that point and just let loose.”
Ausberry wants the new guys to remember that the game doesn’t fundamentally change once you are a professional. “It’s just football,” said the tight end. “It’s something you’ve been playing your whole life so just be prepared for different looks you haven’t seen, but be able to be loose and play football. This is what you’re here for – to play football.”
Gurode is on the same page as Ausberry. “I tell them that the field is the same size, length and width,” said the veteran lineman. “It’s the same game you’ve been playing since you were a kid; it’s just on a bigger stage. After you get past your pregame jitters and the first play, you settle in and start playing football.”
Stewart remembers his first NFL game and knows that all it takes is the first play. “Once you get out there and you take your first hit, it’s just like little league again,” said Stewart. “It’s just football so just go out there and play and have fun.”
The Raiders are looking forward to facing an opponent and playing in front of Raider Nation. They have just a few more days to prepare.
Follow the preparation on Raiders.com, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
CB Brandian Ross returned to practice after missing a few days with an injury.
San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski visited Raiders Training Camp and spent some time with K Sebastian Janikowski.
Tags: Andre Gurode, California National Guard, Dallas Cowboys, David Ausberry, Football, Jeremy Stewart, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Phillip Adams, Preseason, Rookies
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