The Oakland Raiders returned to the practice field on Wednesday for their final practice before their first preseason game of the 2015 as they’re set to take on St. Louis Rams on Friday.
The Raiders were still missing wide receiver Rod Streater, running back Roy Helu Jr., and fullback Jamize Olawale was off on the side working out. Veteran Michael Crabtree also missed the team drills during practice, but head coach Jack Del Rio wouldn’t say what was wrong.
Here are some quick hits and observations from Wednesday’s practice:
- It was a relatively slower practice, likely due to the Raiders gearing up for their first game on Friday. The Raiders focused a lot more on technique and special teams it appeared as a way to prepare for the game.
- Rookie wide receiver Amari Cooper has impressed me this offseason by displaying his ability to find the soft spots in the zone. He has continued to find ways to get open against the zone with his smooth route-running and defensive recognition.
- Cooper ran another smooth route when he broke inside to beat cornerback D.J. Hayden for a touchdown. he used his quick footwork to get leverage on Hayden who was never quick enough to recover.
- 5th-round draft pick Ben Heeney has also continues to have a solid offseason. He has done a solid job surveying the field and playing “center field” at times. He will need to continue to develop and not miss tackles. It will be interesting to see how he plays in preseason.
- Cornerback Neiko Thorpe has continued to improve from an impressive offseason last year. Thorpe recovered after giving a completion, coming from behind and poking the ball out. The young corner then scooped the ball up for the fumble recovery.
- Tall wide receiver Kris Durham had a solid practice, making a couple of leaping catches over defenders. The first one came at the expense of rookie UDFA Tevin McDonald. The second one came in the end zone as Matt McGloin found him for the touchdown.