Asomugha welcomes new changes

The Raiders report to training camp in less than two weeks with a decidedly different look to their workout schedule. Pro Bowl cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha likes the new approach and discussed it with S&BI's Michael Wagaman on Sunday.

The Raiders have tabbed July 28th as the day for all players, rookies and veterans, to report to training camp in Napa, California. But unlike in years past, when the team routinely held its first workout the day after checking in, Oakland will have a full day of meetings on the 29th and won't hit the practice field until the 30th.

When they do begin practicing, the Raiders will hit the ground running. Literally. Head coach Tom Cable has penciled in two-a-day practices for each of the first four days of camp.

That's also a change from the past in which Oakland sprinkled its two-a-day schedules throughout training camp and rarely, if ever, held them on consecutive days.

"I think he wants us to be mentally prepared for camp instead of just going right into it," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. "There's a lot of injuries early on in camp if you're not mentally into it because you're thinking it's all physical and you could over-exert your muscles. He understands it, so the first day is all mental. ‘Let's get back into the stuff that we've learned, keep on with the playbooks and stuff and then the second day we'll get into it a little bit more."

Asomugha was in Oakland on Sunday to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the A's game against the Angels. He wore an A's hat and was given an extra large A's jersey bearing his name and number 21.

"I'm pretty excited about it," Asomugha said, holding up his jersey. "Big jersey here. (Warren) Sapp could fit this. I'll make it work."

Getting the Raiders' defense to work on a consistent basis will be a bigger challenge.

Oakland changed defensive coordinators in the offseason, replacing Rob Ryan with veteran NFL assistant Jim Marshall.

Marshall has been off-limits to reporters, per the Raiders, but Asomugha likes what the new defensive coordinator is doing so far.

"He's got a few more coverages than we've had in the past, so he might be able to use that," Asomugha said. "He's still a dominant man-to-man guy. He never has been, but coming here he understands that's the way Mr. Davis likes it. And he sees the talent that we have and the speed so he's fallen into that. So we're still going to do man, still going to free up linebackers and other guys like that. But he's got a lot more blitzing, a lot more coverages, so we should be fine."

Wagaman's take: Getting camp started with a day of meetings seems reasonable enough but to follow it up with four straight two-a-days ought to be interesting. Either the team wants to send a message to some of its overweight players, or something else is afoot. It's definitely worth keeping an eye on because historically, it's not something the Raiders have done. In 14 years of covering the team, this is the first time they've opened camp this way.

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