Training Camp Observations: Aug. 2, 2014

The Raiders had a reformatted practice when they returned to the field on Saturday.

With family day ensuing afterwards, the Raiders practiced for just two hours but participated in scrimmages for pretty much the entire practice.

The Raiders also saw the return of some key pieces just in time for the scrimmage: defensive end Justin Tuck, wide receivers Juron Criner and Greg Little also returned to the field after missing time with hamstring injuries.

Second-year linebacker Sio Moore did miss practice with an apparent rib injury, according to head coach Dennis Allen.

With that said, lets take a look at some of my notes from today's modified practice:

  • Tight end David Ausberry had a drop relatively early and appeared to have his snaps cutdown, leaving tight end Mychal Rivera with increased snaps. Despite having a drop early on of his own, Rivera quickly followed it up with nice diving catch on a ball down to the two-yard line. The throw was another nice ball from Derek Carr.
  • Wide receiver Juron Criner made his return memorable with beautiful leaping catch over rookie cornerback TJ Carrie. These are the types of catches that Criner was accustomed to making his rookie season, but he has had a hard time staying healthy in his three years with the Raiders.
  • Undrafted rookie Seth Roberts continues to catch everything thrown his way. Roberts found a soft spot in a zone defense to haul in a laser from Derek Carr for a touchdown. It may be difficult for Roberts to crack roster but the Raiders may choose to stash him on the practice squad if they can.
  • Raiders starting center Stefen Wisniewski got some time as the backup long snapper, snapping to punter Michael Palardy. Wiz's long snapping needs some work but he may just be the Raiders' best option.
  • Third-year linebacker Mile Burris took advantage of his competition Sio Moore's absence by making some plays in the running attack, as well as intercepting starting quarterback Matt Schaub. Burris read to play well and jumped in front of Rivera to come away with the interception.
  • Third-round selection Justin "Jelly" Ellis continues to impress in both the run defense and the pass rush. Jelly got by right guard Austin Howard and the right side of the line to get a simulated sack on Schaub. A couple of plays later he clogged up Jeremy Stewart's rushing lane, giving Burris the opportunity to come up and make the tackle. Ellis is making a strong push for a heavy part of the rotation.
  • After intercepting Schaub three times in the last two days, veteran safety Charles Woodson almost came away with another one late in the practice. Woodson just missed the interception, but once again celebrated with the nearby fans just the way he did on his first interception of camp on Thursday.
  • Rookie safety Jonathan Dowling has continued to find himself around the ball. Dowling jumped a route nicely but was unable to hold on to the ball thrown by Carr to Stewart. Dowling has shown a knack for ballhawking and could develop into a nice free safety.
  • Running back Darren McFadden took a nice run to the left side and showed he wasn't scared of contact when he lowered his shoulder to take on Jeremy Deering and Keith McGill head on to get into the end zone. McFadden showed some explosiveness the Raiders have missed on that play.
  • McGill did have a nice interception on one of veteran quarterback Trent Edwards' rare throws. The rookie cornerback was physical with wide receiver Greg Jenkins off of the line and jumped the route nicely for the interception.

The Raiders have Sunday off and return to the field on Monday at 3:00 p.m.

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