The chalkboard sitting in the hallway at the Napa Valley Marriott had the word "Alameda" emblazoned in black letters. That destination is the next move for the Oakland Raiders after the team concluded the first training camp of the Bill Callahan era.
The Raiders conducted a 50-minute session Tuesday morning in helmets, jerseys and shorts before calling it quits. Oakland, which has been outscored 44-20 in two exhibition losses, seeks its first win Saturday when it hosts the San Francisco 49ers.
"I feel very good about where we're at right now," Callahan said. "Of course, the games didn't reflect that but from a preparation and systems standpoint, everything is in and has been addressed. It's just a matter of executing it."
Callahan left camp knowing that a few areas got addressed and that a handful of others need work. Quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo appears to have the inside track as starter Rich Gannon's backup. Starting center Barret Robbins and right guard Mo Collins combined to miss 24 games last season but appear to have sufficiently healed from their injuries. Left tackle Barry Sims missed just one game last year but was hampered with a foot injury. He has not experienced any serious setbacks while left guard Frank Middleton appears to be settled in place of the retired Steve Wisniewski.
Callahan added that special teams and nickel blitzes are areas he would like to see improve before the regular season opener against Seattle September 8. Callahan, however, believes the defense is further ahead despite the fact that the first-unit has looked subpar in two exhibition losses. Oakland's two first-round draft picks, cornerback/punt returner Phillip Buchanon and linebacker Napoleon Harris, have made strong impressions.
The most noticeable difference between Callahan and his predecessor, Jon Gruden, was that practices tended to conclude about a half-hour earlier than normal. That approach has led some folks to believe therein lies the reason for the Raiders below-average exhibition performance.
"We wanted to minimize injury and I think that's the most important aspect of training camp," Callahan said. "You're trying to keep guys healthy so that when you go into the season you can do it on a fresh note. You spend so much time in your offseason building your players up, making them get stronger and faster. When you get into training camp it just doesn't serve any purpose to beat them down."
Callahan also lightened the team's workload after traveling back from away games. For example, the Raiders played a Thursday night game at Tennessee and did not practice at all Friday. Instead of return Saturday with a double-session, the team watched film in the morning and practiced in the afternoon.
Callahan's rationale for lightening the workload may be to preserve the team in December. The Raiders are a combined 9-19 in that month since returning to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995.
"The thing Bill has done is that he's not afraid to make changes," Gannon said. "It was different from the standpoint of not having the extra preseason game. I don't know that there was a whole lot of changes it's just that he's not afraid to make them."
NOTES – Right guard Mo Collins (knee), wide receiver Matthew Hatchette (shoulder), punter Shane Lechler (knee), defensive end Emil Ekiyor (ankle) and safety Anthony Dorsett (foot) missed the final practice of training camp. … Defensive tackle Mike Mohring (knee) return to practice. … Callahan is hopeful that Dorsett and Collins can play against the 49ers. Dorsett spent practice time jogging.