In some games, one would have thought the Fourth of July came early because of the numerous penalty flags. The Raiders, who began the first day of training camp practices Friday in Napa, CA, committed 129 infractions last season for 1,094 yards.
"We've got to be a smarter football team," Raiders head coach Bill Callahan said. "That goes with things like assignment football and also in terms of penalty play. We spoke to that issue several times last season but that will be a real emphasis in training camp."
That highlighting was quite apparent Friday with the offensive unit having to do 10 pushups after Pro Bowl right tackle Lincoln Kennedy committed a false start penalty. The Raiders conducted the same drill after backup linebacker Tim Johnson dropped an interception.
"We have all sorts of measures for that," Callahan said. "It is definitely one of those thorns in my side that I want to alleviate. We don't want to leave as many yards on the field as we did a year ago. That's a drastic change in field position. You put yourself behind the eight-ball."
The fact that the Raiders overcame those infractions in their first Super Bowl participating season since 1983 is further testament to the explosiveness of their offense. Oakland, however, may not be as fortunate if that trend continues.
"You've got to take responsibility for yourself and there's no need to slow down practice," Kennedy said. "We're trying to cut back on mental errors from last year. I can't remember the last time I did pushups period. We're just trying to police ourselves."
While the team benefits in so many aspects from quarterback Rich Gannon's ability to audible the team into the right play, that aspect has its downside. That detriment is that linemen have to stay in their stances for a longer period of time than normal. The Raiders, however, are not like to complain about Gannon's creativity any time soon.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org