Just one more day of camp after today before they pack up and head back to Alameda. In the meantime, we are trying to get a better indication of what this team will look like. Sunday is the all-important third preseason game where the starters will play their most extended minutes this preseason.
Upon arrival, the first thing we learned was that there was a new number 80 on the field: Derek Hagan, who was signed as a free agent during camp. He had worn number 6 up to this point.
The Raiders' number 80 was most recently worn by Pro Bowl tight end Zach Miller who recently signed with the Seahawks as a free agent. Other former Raider receivers to don the number 80 include Jerry Rice and James Lofton.
Hagan is glad the number was available for him, since it was the number he wore in college and when he joined the New York Giants. Hagan has played quite well this camp and has earned a spot on the roster. He also happens to be the most accomplished receiver on this team. Getting the number change this early on is a great indication that he will indeed be a Raider.
With Hagan in the mix, the Raiders would enter the season with six receivers on the roster for the second year in a row. Barring injury, Hagan would likely take Nick Miller's spot at receiver.
Miller was joined in returning punts today by Taiwan Jones and Denarius Moore. It is very likely that either Jones or Moore will take over punt returning duties once the regular season begins. Jacoby Ford is still in line to return kicks.
The man kicking off for the Raiders is of course Sebastian Janikowski. To end camp today, Jackson had him line up for a couple of long field goal attempts, the first from 64 yards out and he nailed it easily. Yes, that would be an NFL record. Then Hue had him move back five yards and try one from 69 yards. That one missed short and right, sailing just below the right corner of the cross bar.
Said Hue of Janikowski: "That's reassuring to know you have a guy who can probably kick it from anywhere on the field, on the plus side of the field and have a chance. He is a tremendous competitor. I'm glad he's on our team. No doubt about that. He's good at what he does."
Seventy yards is not unheard of for Janikowski to hit. In fact, he claims he hit one in practice.
"I kicked a 70 here, yeah," said Janikowksi. "Kicked a 70. Actually did it like four days ago, just messing around. I was feeling good."
Just messing around? Feeling good? Only Seabass can say that. Other kickers wish they could just mess around and kick a 70 yard field goal when they are feeling great.
Another guy feeling good for the first time in a while is Trevor Scott, who looked as sharp as ever in practice. Scott is back to playing primarily defensive end and got around rookie Joseph Barksdale a couple times for sacks; he also stuffed a few runs through his position. Hue Jackson likes what he sees.
"Wow. Wow," said Jackson. "He's going to play some [Sunday], he needs to. But what a tremendous competitor. What a tremendous football player. Those guys that have been away that have now come back to practice, they've elevated practice because they're tremendous football players. The Jacoby Fords, the Darren McFaddens, the Taiwan Jones, the Trevor Scotts... those are good football players. They have a say in how this thing is all going to go down so I'm excited about our football team."
Taiwan Jones has been back at practice this week too and he looks extremely fast. He takes the edge like no one else on this team. He looks smooth, fast, shifty, and FAST. Did I mention fast?
Also coming back to practice today was offensive lineman Stephon Heyer who was out with a strained triceps and Demarcus Van Dyke who was out with an unknown "nick."
But replacing them on the injured list is Brandon Myers who was kicked in the ankle in practice today. He is the third tight end to go out. Kevin Boss and David Ausberry were both injured in last week's game and have yet to return. That left the team with just Kevin Brock and Richard Gordon at tight end and it appears they will be the only ones to play on Sunday as well.
The injury report seemed to get thinner for a while but it has now built up to 19 as of today. Hiram Eugene and Travis Goethel are out for the season, Louis Murphy is doubtful for the first game of the season with a groin injury of some kind, Mike Mitchell is on crutches but claimed on his Twitter page he "will be back when it counts." Chris Johnson is out for the preseason with what appears to be a sports hernia. Chaz Schilens sprained his knee last week and no telling when he will be back; he's considered week to week.
Others out are Steve Goulet, Shawn Bayes, James McCluskey, Zac Etheridge, Alan Pelc, and Roy Sheuning. Most of these last injuries seem to be minor, though some could end their time with the Raiders on the August 30 cutdown date.
No practice Thursday but I will be back in Napa on Friday at 11am for the final camp practice, then to the game versus the Saints in Oakland.
Follow me on Twitter @LeviDamien to receive my in-practice and in-game tweets or befriend me on Facebook.
It will be interesting to see who the Raiders ultimately designate returning punts. Personally, I would not risk injury to Denarius Moore, as he is proving himself to be quite a weapon at Wide Receiver. We are loaded at Running Back, so Taiwon Jones would be the safe bet, in my opinion, as an injury to Jones would be less costly than one to Denarius moore. Injuries can happen at anytime time, I know that, however, punt returning is definitely among the most dangerous of the positions and I am not a fan of putting a potential star player (like Denarius moore) in unnecessary danger.
Wouldn't surprise me if they put Moore on punt returns.
A lot of teams risk first round picks on punts. Let alone 3-4th. Dez Bryant was hell-of-a important for Dallas, but they still had him there.
Thing is, I suspect teams work along the "getting injured is pretty random and can happen any time" way of thinking. And they're probably right.
Moore's just as likely to get knocked out by Tommy Kelly falling on him in training, than he is returning a punt if you ask me!
It's the European thing man!
Most American kids grow up throwing things, and using their hands. Most European kids grow up kicking things.
Sea-Bass grew up playing Soccer to a very high level. Played internationally as a teenager. And Poland has a pretty high standard. Good international team, and good league system. Lot of good players in Poland.
Not trying to sound too disrespectful, but Americans aren't very good with their feet! Just as Europeans aren't very good with their hands.
Most kids in UK, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, who have grown up playing soccer, are pretty good at kicking things a long way.
As in, I'm pretty confident I could step on to a practice field and make a 45 yard field goal.
I knew guys at school who were kicking rugby balls (the same as footballs basically) 50 yards+. Like at 14-15 years of age.
It's very much like hitting a golf ball. All timing, and technique. Not really power. Power comes into it, but a lot of kicking something a long way is just hitting it sweetly.
As in, watch the youtube clip of David Beckham (English soccer player) hitting field goals with Reggie Bush. He hits a 60 yarder pretty easily on there.
All timing and technique. Sea Bass will hit it so far, not because of his power, but because of his background playing soccer to a high level.
As I said, just cultural.
I probably couldn't throw football and make it spiral, even if I worked on it all day. But I reckon I could step on to a High School football field in the states, and wipe the floor with most of their kickers
@ChristopherMooney No matter which way you look at it Sea bass has an insanely strong leg. Beckham isn't known for having a powerful leg and he falls well short on the record attempt you refer to. That includes taking a lot longer than a 3 step run up which is the most an NFL kicker can take otherwise it WILL get blocked. Kickers in rugby can take as long as a run up as they like and for nearly all of the modern day big kicks in rugby will be from a kicking tee. Which means the ball is sitting nicely up and gets the elevation required. Beckham not only uses a tee and longer run up but still gets nowhere close to the distance you're talking about. His leg strength is not even close to Jano's.
I used to kick for my Britball team and at a playing weight of about 250lb with a good history of soccer behind me could do just over 50 yards max from a 3 step in full pads. From a kicking tee and longer run up I surprised a few kick returners and posted a fair amount of touchbacks. But I'd bet you'd have no chance whatsoever of stepping on to a field and hitting a 45 yard field goal off the bat with a football - not a rugby ball - without a kicking tee, using a 3 step run up. If you think otherwise give it a go and post it on Youtube with a link for us. Then you'll think differently and realise just how much power, and control, Jano has.
"Poland has a pretty high standard. Good international team, and good league system."
True. In fact, if it weren't for Poland, Die Mannschaft would be nowhere near as strong as it is.
I saw Janikowski kick in college when FSU played @ UVA. He lined up a couple of balls on tees a few yards apart on the fifty, and then calmly proceeded to put all of them through the uprights, one after another.
He then moved back five yards and did the same thing from the 45.
Then he did it from the 40.
Then he waddled over in front of the home student section, waved, and laughed as he waddled away.
Quite the impressive display, and part of the reason it took me so long to warm up to him as a pro, what with his, shall we say, sporadic lapses in accuracy.