Vets the best bets at Raiders’ camp?

Jon Gruden cemented a notion I postulated before training camp began. We’ve added a veteran presence,” the Oakland Raiders head coach began after Friday’s first day in Napa. “Some people don’t like it, but I like Derrick Johnson and Marcus Gilchrist. I like guys that know what the heck is going on.

“Leon Hall, Reggie Nelson, Emmanuel Lamur — they know this defense as well as (defensive coordinator Paul) Guenther.”

Know your damn job. Do your damn job. It doesn’t get any more Gruden than that.

Vets the best bets at Raiders’ camp?

Safety Karl Joseph said having experienced and knowledgeable veterans in the front seven has been a godsend during team minicamps last month and it’s crystal clear that was the Raiders coaching staff plan from the get-go.

Johnson, the longtime Kansas City Chief, got a crash course in the Raiders new defense from Guenther himself and is impressed how diverse the scheme even if it’s from the same alignment or look. Johnson noted there are as much as four varying coverage schemes out of one particular look. The multiple variations is what the capable veteran linebacker is excited about.

“I like being a coach on the field,” Johnson said. “I just want to learn the defense as well as Paul Guenther knows it so I can direct it and be a coach on the field, that’s my goal.”

  • The initial secondary alignment saw Rashaan Melvin and Gareon Conley at outside cornerback with Reggie Nelson and Karl Joseph as the safeties. Gilchrist and Hall were in the slot.
  • Starting linebackers on day one were Tahir Whitehead, Derrick Johnson and Emmanuel Lamur. Second-year man Marquel Lee saw time with the first team at middle linebacker. As with the secondary, this is likely to be a fluid group.
  • Wide receiver Amari Cooper weighed in at an impressive 223 pounds in Napa. Proclaimed healthy, the door is wide open for the  24-year-old (he’s only 24!?) to be the unquestioned No. 1 wideout.
  • Fourth-round pick Nick Nelson looked smooth in backpedal drills. This is noteworthy as a knee injury caused his draft stock to fall. Perhaps that’s the Raiders gain.
  • Bruce Irvin is at his natural position (according to Gruden) and he tore the offense a new butthole on day one. Supremely disruptive, if that happens consistently during the regular season, look out.
  • Gruden noted second-round pick P.J. Hall landed on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list due to a pectoral strain. The Raiders were fortunate to land Maurice Hurst in the fifth round.
  • First-round pick Kolton Miller showed up at camp significantly stronger. The strength was a must for the Redwood-tree sized left tackle so he can remain grounded against smaller bull rushers.
  • Miller was one of the neophytes with the first team, thanks in large part to veteran Donald Penn mending from a foot injury.

Quote Of Note:

“I’m really excited for Sunday when the pads come on because you don’t know really how guys are going to be until you get those pads on. So, I’m really excited for that.”

— Kolton Miller, rookie offensive tackle

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