As the Oakland Raiders finished their last full practice before their Monday Night Football preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys, a familiar face was in Napa. Former head coach Jon Gruden, who now announces for ESPN's Monday Night Football, was on hand to see the team practice before he calls the game. The Raiders went without pads as they prepare to see their first live action of the season.
With injury bug hitting the Raiders hard the past week, some key players returned to practice today. Strong safety Tyvon Branch was back after back spasms held him out yesterday. Defensive lineman Jack Crawford and Richard Seymour also were able to participate.
As for the players who are still out, linebacker Aaron Curry is still in Los Angeles seeing a specialist for his knee injury. Punter Shane Lechler (knee), running back Mike Goodson (neck), running back Taiwan Jones (hamstring), wide receivers Denarius Moore (hamstring) and Eddie McGee (hamstring) as well as tight end Brandon Myers (shoulder) all remain out of action. The Raiders did receive encouraging news about Myers' shoulder.
“Myers’ shoulder injury from yesterday; everything came back negative, which is a good thing,” Raiders head coach Dennis Allen said. “That’s one of the few times you ever hear ‘negative’ and think it’s good. That was a good thing so he’s a little sore today but we’ll evaluate him in the next couple days and see where he’s at come game day.”
Wide receiver Duke Calhoun and linebacker Mario Kurn both sustained what Allen referred to as “significant” knee injuries in today's practice.
Because the knee injury to Curry has not allowed him to feel relief or see any action this offseason, the likelihood of him playing at all this preseason or in the regular season opener, is yet to be determined.
“Well we are getting closer to that point,” Allen said of Curry's chances to be absent in the near future. “I don’t know exactly where that is but obviously he was not the same healthy Aaron Curry that we saw on tape last year. We are trying to do everything we can to give him a chance to get healthy so that he can be out there opening night. We are getting closer to that point where that might not be as much of a possibility, it’s not there yet.”
If the Curry injury lingers, rookie Miles Burris will be the guy to step in to take his playing time. So far during training camp, Burris has flashed ability to be a solid NFL linebacker, however just like any other rookie, his learning curve is steep. Continuing to get practice and preseason reps should help Burris, but he will need to develop the mental toughness and consistency Dennis Allen requires from him.
“I think the consistency thing with Miles I want to be able to see him be able to put one play after another and eliminate some of the young mistakes that he is still making,” Allen said. “Every day he goes out there is a growth process with him. The good thing is that you can see improvement. You can see him correcting things he might have made a mistake on before he gets them corrected. So still got a long way to go, but I am hoping to see a little bit of consistency out of him.”
With Carson Palmer excepted to see just a few plays in the preseason opener, third string quarterback Terrelle Pryor will see a considerable amount of snaps. He has been inconsistent, especially in is accuracy, throughout training camp. With this being his first full preseason, Pryor should benefit from the increased playing time as he tries to get a feel for his duties as an NFL quarterback.
“I don’t know exactly how much it’ll be but I would expect to see him get plenty of snaps,” Allen said of Pryor's playing time.
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