"That's one of the toughest drills there is in football," Oakland Raiders head coach Art Shell, who ran the drill several days ago, said. "Because the defense knows that you're coming downhill at them, offense knows that the defense is gonna hunker down and make it tough for them to block them. So it's tough. When you can do it in that particular drill - play defense or play offense as a lineman or a linebacker or a tight end - then you can do it in the regular situations."
The Oklahoma drill consists of a runner trying to maneuver between two pads, with one blocker to protect him and one defender trying to dismantle him. There were several violent collisions during the drill, including one in which Shawne Merriman blew up tight end Kelly Griffeth and then celebrated by throwing his helmet to the ground and screaming for some love from the fans.
Another notable impact occurred when Carlos Polk locked up with offensive tackle Ben Johnson. Polk appeared to be in control, but Johnson was able to spin Polk around, allowing his runner to get by. The two exchanged words long after the play was over. Kassim Osgood was also involved in an intense collision after which he appeared shaken up, but he seemed to be alright by practice's end.
"It is the true essence of football," defensive lineman Luis Castillo added.
Aside from the Oklahoma drill, the highlight portion of practice was the one-on-one passing session. The star there was Drayton Florence, who shut down every receiver he was matched up against. He also had a nifty interception on a pass intended for Keenan McCardell, which he took back the other way for a score.
Antonio Cromartie had a nice showing there also, displaying incredible recovery speed and excellent athleticism. Much had been made of the competition between Florence and Cromartie for a spot in the starting lineup, but there is still a chance both players could be starters. Quentin Jammer did not get his hands on a single pass and was beaten badly on several occasions.
During the day's special teams session the team worked on kickoffs and kickoff coverage. Nate Kaeding and rookie Kurt Smith took turns kicking off, with Smith's kicks going slightly farther and significantly higher than Kaeding's.
Another intriguing development is the continued heavy use of tight end Brandon Manumaleuna. The team used him some as an H-back today, lining him up in the backfield during certain formations. He also lined up frequently next to Leander Jordan, perhaps hinting that the team is trying to protect their questionable left tackle position with help from the wide-bodied Manumaleuna.
Several players missed practice today due either to injuries or the team's cautious nature. Roman Oben, Jamal Williams, Igor Olshansky, Donnie Edwards and Bhawoh Jue were some of the more recognizable players not participating in the day's festivities.
After practice, the players fanned out and signed autographs for the many hundreds of fans who packed Chargers Park in anticipation of the Oklahoma drill. The day's attendance easily exceeded that from either practice on day one, something the players no doubt appreciated.