Today, the Oakland Raiders opened up their first Al-Davis-less training camp since 1963 — that’s 49 years, according to Google. Not forsaking the foundation laid by Davis’ lifetime of work, the Oakland Raiders are emerging as a new team, just not the one idealized by the now deceased Davis.
“It’s different, it’s definitely different,” defensive lineman Tommy Kelly told Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee. “You don’t see the same faces around here no more. It’s a lot more new people.”
Since Jon Gruden was traded by Al Davis in 2001, the Raiders have been mired in mediocrity and scandal. Over the last decade, the team has had seven different head coaches and countless press conferences featuring Davis at a projector. Such controversy tends to lend itself to disorder, not success.
But, at the hands of new general manager Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders are changing, for the better.
“It’s like there’s more structure from the top to the bottom,” safety Michael Huff said. “Everybody knows who’s in charge, who’s the coach and who’s calling certain shots. There’s more structure and everybody is accountable, because if you don’t go out there and if you don’t do your job, you’re not going to be here. And that’s what we needed.” (my emphasis)
To say accountability is what the team needs is the understatement of the year. Aside from being the most penalized team in the football, the Raiders severely lacked discipline on and off the field — a trait new head coach Dennis Allen hopes to curb.
“They’re real strict on discipline now as far as showing up to meetings, they’re even making us check in for lunches and dinners now,” safety Tyvon Branch told Josh Dubow. “They’re trying to change the discipline factor.”
And rightfully so. By Allen’s logic, a team cannot win without being disciplined. “To win in the National Football League you’ve got to learn how to not beat yourselves,” Allen said. “That’s one of the things that causes you to lose football games. It’s my job to get them to understand that, and then at the end of the day it’s the players’ jobs to make sure they get it corrected.”
I suppose time will tell whether Allen is able to do what others have failed: Discipline the typically rogue Raiders.
Monday Afternoon QuarterBASGs
– Stefen Wisniewski, who did not participate in offseason workouts, has officially taken over as starting center. Wisniewski took first team reps at center today.
– Jacoby Ford went down hard in practice today, clutching his left knee. After being checked by trainers, Ford returned to practice, working with the special teams unit.
– According to Steve Corkran, Juron Criner, who just signed yesterday, was a limited participant in today’s practice.
– Corkran noted that Carson Palmer looked sharp throughout practice. Backup Terrelle Pryor did not. Pryor was intercepted by rookie defensive lineman Christo Bilukidi to end practice.
Monday Afternoon Defensive BASGs
– Linebacker Aaron Curry starts training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list with a knee injury.
– Cornerback Ron Bartell (hamstring) and DL Travis Ivey (conditioning) did not practice today.
– 2011 draft picks Chimdi Chekwa and Demarcus Van Dyke showed well today. Chekwa intercepted a Leinart pass, while Van Dyke broke up several of Palmer’s throws.