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Notes from Napa: Early Observations on Key Raiders Players

Photo: Raiders.com

Notes from Napa: Early Observations on Key Raiders Players

Silver and Black Today’s Chaz Osborne traveled to Napa for the opening weekend of the Raiders 2019 training camp. Here are his thoughts on what he saw, heard and felt as the Raiders get ready for their 60th season.


The start of NFL training camp is always a special time. Between the simple fact that football is back, and the excitement that accompanies a new season for a team looking to turn around their fortunes, it makes for a positive few days and the Raiders camp in Napa was no different.

Entering the second year of the latest Jon Gruden era – and the first for new general manager Mike Mayock – the sense of optimism was palpable. That’s not surprising as most training camps all start the same way. In my 12 years as an NBA scout, the feeling was usually the same.

This year in Napa may be a bit different. With the roster turnover,the past two years, and the genuine excitement over the team’s 2019 draft haul, the focus and “all business” approach were apparent. Things just felt more focused.

In addition to the overall “feel” of camp this time, old habits die hard for me. I chose to really focus on individual players during workouts and share my thoughts on those observations. Granted, this was just really the first few days of practice so things can change quickly. Still, my observations were telling in some cases (see my first day observations on the now-former Raiders RB Chris Warren III) so here it goes.

Offense

RB – Chris Warren III

While the release of Warren came as a shock (I was on the air during our CBS Sports Radio 1140 show in Las Vegas when it went down) to many, I wasn’t surprised at all. Warren looked completely out of shape and uninterested. It’s hard to know the heart of an athlete but often actions speak loud and Warren couldn’t look worse.

WR – Tyrell Williams

With all the attention surrounding Antonio Brown, I feel like Williams’ presence and importance to the Raiders offense is not getting the attention it should. Quarterback Derek Carr said as much during his initial press conference. Williams impressed me with his speed, sharp route running, and his whole repertoire was on display the first day. He’s also amazingly positive and that great enthusiasm will mix well with Carr. Watch this guy this year.

Tyrell Williams Raiders camp wide receiver silver and black today napa
Look for Williams to have a big year for the Raiders opposite Brown.

WR – Hunter Renfrow

Already a fan favorite, and a healthy obsession for our friend Mo Moton, it’s easy to see why. The kid out of Clemson has good speed and is able to create space when running routes. He’s going to be open a lot for Derek carr. Also: he seemingly catches everything. It’s uncanny.

TE – Darren Waller

Waller really caught my attention. He has a great combination of size and speed, solid hands, and hauled incredible catches with DBs draped all over him on Day One. He’s my pick to click for the team to find their replacement for the departure of Jared Cook. I really liked what I saw from #83.

QB – Derek Carr

Carr exudes confidence. I’ve always liked his skill and mindset. Why he’s such a polarizing figure in Raider Nation is a bit baffling to me. Raiders fans must forget the nameless masses (and busts) who have played the position in Oakland over the past 15 years. Carr, on Day One, was making every throw in drills. His touch passes were right on target and his laser shots were impressive. He threw just one duck on the deep ball but now has receivers making nice adjustments to back shoulder and outside routes. When they went 11-on-11, Carr was getting happy feet and had two throwaways and two scrambles. On Day Two, he was showing much improvement in scrambling out of the broken pocket. A good sign all the way around on the Raiders franchise QB.

Backup QBs – Nate Peterman & Mike Glennon

Look, they’re back up quarterbacks – I know.

Still, you have to see what is sitting behind Carr if the unthinkable happens. To me, Peterman looked solid. Nothing really overly impressive and nothing overly concerning in my early look. Glennon just looked bad. Maybe he’s just rusty but despite his great size, he looked confused and didn’t play well when given the chance.

RB – Josh Jacobs

The kid has the “it” factor. Whether or not if that translates onto the field in 2019 is up to him. But I was impressed with his incredible speed and moves after the catch. So far, he looks to be everything we’ve thought and more. When the pads are on starting today, we’ll see how he holds up.

Josh Jacobs Raiders Napa camp
Josh Jacobs is creating a buzz in Raiders camp.

RB – Doug Martin

Another polarizing figure for many in Raider Nation. I will tell you this: anyone who says Martin doesn’t have much left in the tank hasn’t watched him live. The veteran gives maximum effort on every play and looks to be a big part, again, of the Raiders offense in 2019. He’s also a great mentor to Jacobs.

Defense

DE – Clelin Ferrell

It was great to see the big boy in uniform. He looks good in a uniform. I didn’t get a great chance to watch him much, but when I did he was collapsing the pocket while showing great discipline staying in his lane. The kid is focused and seems to be soaking it all in and learning from veterans and coaches alike.

LB – Marquel Lee

Lee has shown great promise, at times, and many think this could be a make or break year for him. If camp is any indication, he’s up for the challenge. Early on looks focused and is as hard-working as ever.

LB – Jason Cabinda

This guy is like the Energizer Bunny – constant energy and he never stops. Sort of like a swimming shark. Gruden seems to like the kid so we’ll see if he can make a big jump this season.

LB – Tahir Whitehead

He was everything you’d expect out of a seasoned vet. He was talking to the crowd after a play that went to the sidelines saying: “Y’all got to cheer for the defense every now and then.” He’ll work hard – that is certain.

CB – Gareon Conley

I am a big believer in the ability of Conley. Yet, on Day One, he was unimpressive. He looked a step slow and was getting burned regularly in coverage. He also seemed to lack concentration on Day One. He did look better on Day Two, but still concerned.

CB – Daryl Worley

Worley had no problem with concentration and looked sharp and energetic throughout workouts.

Karl Joseph Raiders camp
S Karl Joseph looks fit and fired up for 2019

S – Karl Joseph

Joseph is another guy seemingly under the microscope again this season. He seems to be responding how you’d like him to. He was extremely active both days, breaking up multiple passes, and flying to the ball. He is seemingly ready for the challenge and came to camp ready to go.

Yes, it’s early so you have to take these observations for what they are. Today, the team gears up for real and puts on the pads. When camp gets rolling and the hitting starts, you tend to get a better sense for where players are.

One thing we’ve learned early on, the Raiders, Gruden, and Mayock are serious about turning this thing around fast. As such, if you’re not giving 100% or coming into camp in shape, you might be a former Raider very fast.

LISTEN TO CHAZ LIVE FROM CAMP: Chaz called in with his report to our CBS Sports Radio 1140 show. Listen to Sunday’s camp recap show here:

Chaz joined us live from Napa with his report from Raiders Training Camp.

Chaz Osborne is a former scout for the Los Angeles Lakers and a long-time NFL & Raiders aficionado. Osborne is a regular contributor on the website, the Silver and Black Today podcast, and CBS Sports Radio 1140-AM. He resides in Las Vegas.

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