Coach Art Shell, attempting to instill a sense of discipline he felt was lacking in the previous regime, has worked the Raiders hard since training camp began, according to the players. There were no days off for veteran players, strict rules about behavior and being on time, and very few days when practice was shortened or lightened up.
So it came as somewhat of a surprise when Shell told a team which had been outscored 55-6 in its first two games that he was giving them Friday, Saturday and Sunday off. Other than injured players who were rehabbing, Shell told the rest of the players he wanted them to get away and stay away.
"I think most guys took advantage of it," safety and special teams captain Jarrod Cooper said. "Everybody seems to have a little pep in his step. It's good just to stop for a minute, in anything you do. Shoot, every once in awhile I've got to stop doing stuff I like just so I can like it again. Three days off was nice. Nicer than I expected."
Center Jake Grove felt the Raiders needed the break both mentally and physically after a draining training camp, five pre-season games and then two crushing defeats.
"I think you feel a little fresher," Grove said. "When you have two losses during the week it's kind of hard on you, so that bye week came at a really good time for us. Everyone is fresh mentally."
While defensive end Derrick Burgess appreciated the time off, the days leading up to it were torture because there wasn't a game to prepare for.
"You have to think about it the whole week before we actually get the day off," Burgess said. "It's not any easier."
Shell said he liked what he saw from Monday's practice.
"You get a chance to reflect on what's been going on, how we're doing things, and how we can do them better," Shell said. "The guys seemed to be good and fresh today. Energetic. The focus seemed to be there. The few days off was good for them. Now we have to give them a plan they can succeed with.."