The Oakland Raiders took the field for the first practice since Friday’s 28-20 loss to the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Silver and Black began a regular season practice schedule and will start game-planning for the Chicago Bears tomorrow.
Rookie CB DJ Hayden practiced today without the red jersey. He is fully cleared for contact and will have an opportunity to go to work when the team wears pads Monday morning. Hayden is excited to finally get a chance to play in an NFL game. “Looking forward to my first NFL game,” said Hayden. “I can’t wait to get out there and play.”
Today, the team worked on correcting mistakes from the Saints game. Preseason games are an opportunity to recognize the issues and get them fixed before the regular season.
“Well that’s part of what these preseason games are all about – you need to get the experience,” said Head Coach Dennis Allen. “You need to see guys in game situations and see how they respond. It’s all part of the evaluation process. Just like everything you do, we take that game and learn from it. We correct the mistakes and move forward to Chicago.”
Rookie WR Brice Butler led the team with 3 catches for 38 yards. Despite his successes, he also recognizes where he needs to improve in order to help the team. “I honestly did have a false start penalty I think on the second drive and that kind of started a trend of false starting penalties,” said Butler. “For me, that weighs more than having more catches than everybody because, at the end of the day, we did lose the game. Even though you want to do well for yourself and all that, you also want to do everything else, so it doesn’t have to do with catches all the time. Sometimes it might be a big block, sometimes it might just be doing your assignment, so just have to keep working.”
That team-first mentality permeates the whole squad. “It has to be that way to change our team from where we were last year to where we want to be, that’s what it’s going to have to take,” said Butler. “It can’t be a team full of individuals. It’s going to have to be everybody individually working towards one team goal. So that’s the plan this year so we have to keep going.”
DE David Bass had a big play for the Raiders that led to a touchdown. His sack of Saints QB Seneca Wallace caused a fumble resulting in a scoop and score by rookie DE Ryan Robinson. “It’s definitely a confidence booster,” said Bass. “Getting sacks in this league is not easy and especially getting a sack and a forced fumble. Just sticking my arm out, swatting at the quarterback’s arm has become a habit, so I did it and the ball actually came out. That felt real good for me. Then Ryan was right there to scoop and score so he got his first touchdown of his career.”
Robinson could hardly believe he scored an NFL touchdown. “Yeah, it was kind of unreal. When I scored, I didn’t know what to do,” said Robinson. “I didn’t know how to react, but I feel like that’s just a bigger stepping stone for me to make more plays on the road and show what I can do. It was just a fun experience. I didn’t know where the ball was, I saw it, picked it up and just got really happy. I was excited that Bass made the play, a fellow rookie. I was just really excited.”
All three rookies are seeing improvements in their play each preseason game and each training camp practice. “I did a lot better from the first game, but at the same time, I still have mistakes to correct,” said Bass. “I’m trying to get better every day, but I can tell I was flying around, getting out of the stack and making plays and holding my own out there, so I felt like I did good.”
LB Kaelin Burnett, in his second season, led the Raiders in tackles against the Saints. “It felt great,” said Burnett. “Just felt like my number was called and I just had to step up and go out there and do what I have to do.”
Burnett is also seeing personal day-to-day improvement. “I watched the game and I could just see the improvement from OTAs, mini-camp and to now,” said Burnett. “I’m out there being way more physical, getting off blocks and I feel like I’m doing what they ask me to do now.”
His progress began during his time on the Raiders practice squad. “From practice squad, they just developed me and I feel like I’m picking up the game and reacting faster and everything,” said Burnett. “More film study and I feel like I’m actually adapting to the game, the speed, everything.”
Undrafted rookie free agent WR Conner Vernon had some playing time against the Saints as well and recorded one catch for 5 yards. After overcoming an injury early in camp, Vernon is enjoying playing under the lights.
“It was great,” said Vernon on his experience at the Superdome. “Obviously, the reality of it, living out your dream, playing in the NFL, putting on that uniform and just walking into that stadium, it’s quite the experience. It’s the best job in the world. There’s nothing else I could see myself doing right now and it was great. It was just an awesome feeling.”
Now the Raiders begin preparing for their third preseason opponent, the Chicago Bears.
Today’s practice set the tone for the week. “Obviously we have to clean up some stuff, but there’s definitely a lot of good plays out there,” said Vernon. “I’m sure once we see the tape there will be more plays that show up that we’ll look to and definitely going to be some mistakes we have to correct. It’s definitely a good step forward in preparation for the Bears.”
“Guys came out fast and ready to practice, ready to play, treating it like a real game and preparing ourselves for the game this weekend,” added Robinson.
The Raiders will take the field late morning for their Monday practice. Log on to Raiders.com, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for complete coverage.
Tags: Brice Butler, Conner Vernon, David Bass, DJ Hayden, Kaelin Burnett, NFL, Oakland Raiders, Ryan Robinson, Training Camp
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