The Raiders will travel to Minnesota on Thursday for their first preseason game of the year as they take on the Vikings.
With the Raiders set to play their first game, Dennis Allen opted for the team to practice without pads, marking just the second time the team has practiced without pads since pads were allowed.
Without pads, the Raiders worked out in front of roughly 900 youth football players in attendance for Youth Football Appreciation Day. Current Raiders Charles Woodson and Maurice Jones-Drew were joined by former Raiders Courtney Anderson and Sam Williams to address the crowd to provide positive messaging.
Following the speech, the young fans were able to watch the Raiders practice.
Though the practice was relatively mild, here are some quick observations from practice.
- With tight end David Ausberry out indefinitely, second-year tight end Mychal Rivera took advantage of the of the additional reps early and often. Rivera used a nice double move to free himself from veteran safety Charles Woodson for a big gain down the middle from quarterback Matt Schaub. Ausberry made another nice fingertip catch on a ball thrown by Matt McGloin.
- Tight end Nick Kasa was drafted twelve slots ahead of Rivera in the 2013 NFL Draft but hasn't seen much time on the field since being drafted. In fact, Kasa has just one reception but it did go for a touchdown. Kasa's upside coming into the NFL was as a blocking tight end but may be asked to do more in the receiving game with Ausberry's injury. Kasa has made a couple of nice catches in camp so far, including a nice one on the left side on a ball from Schaub. The Raiders will certainly need all the options possible if Ausberry out a long time.
- Veteran safety Charles Woodson has gotten the better of Schaub more than a couple of times during camp but this time he was on the short end of things. Woodson got beat for a touchdown when wide receiver Greg Little leaped up over him to haul in a touchdown catch from Schaub in the back of the end zone.
- It's ironic that on a day the players weren't in pads that camp's first "scuffle" occurred, let alone during a drill at a walkthrough pace. Rookie defensive tackle Justin "Jelly" Ellis and guard Austin Howard had a brief moment of extracurricular activities but it didn't amount to much. Both players let cooler heads prevail and they moved on to the next snap.
- The highlight of the day came when 8-year-old Charlie DeGrange received the opportunity to break the Raiders' huddle for the day's practice. DeGrange is currently a patient at UCSF Medical Center with an inoperable brain tumor and just started treatment last week.
The Raiders fly to Minnesota tomorrow for their game on Friday and will return to practice at Napa on Sunday.