The Oakland Raiders are recovering during their first off day after five straight days of training camp. The camp has been a physical battle, as head coach Dennis Allen is trying to instill a physical edge to his team. The physical nature of the practices has taken its toll, as the team has suffered plenty of injuries in the early going.
The Raiders’ camp has been full of surprises, disappointments, and interesting developments in the early stages of camp. We are going to take a look at five observations from the first week of training camp.
1. A true three-way battle for quarterback:
The Raiders’ starting quarterback position has been a state of flux over the recent years. Each training camp was littered with reports of poor quarterback poor and it carried on into the season, as the team has struggled to find consistent success at the position.
This season looked to be much of the same, as mini camp reports were full of unflattering comments about the quarterbacks and their performances. This created a huge spotlight on the position as the team entered camp. The players apparently stepped up to the challenge, as reports in the early days of camp have been surprisingly optomistic.
Matt Flynn was the de facto starting quarterback, as the team entered camp. Flynn has looked solid during these first few practices. He has displayed great accuracy on his short and intermediate passes. He has looked much improved since those mini camps in May. That may come from a better understanding of the offense, as Flynn has looked liked he has had his head in the playbook the entire offseason.
The one attribute that Flynn brings over the other two competitors is his experience in the NFL. Flynn is entering his sixth season, which is more than the other two combined. With that experience comes a sense of leadership. Flynn has looked like a leader for the offense and his teammates have noticed.
The most impressive player has been Terrelle Pryor. Pryor has looked markedly improved over his previous seasons. It all starts with improved mechanics that look more natural and prototypical. The new mechanics allow him to spin the ball with a much tighter sprial, which allows him to be more accurate and get better flight on the deep ball.
In previous seasons, Pryor would struggle to throw the ball deep. Despite his strong arm, he would see his passes come up short as they would wobble and flutter due to his poor mechanics. This training camp, Pryor has been great throwing deep, as he has several highlight reel throws in each of his first few days of camp. If Pryor can continue to grow as a quarterback, then he could be a real threat to be the starter with his impressive athleticism.
The third candidate is rookie Tyler Wilson. Wilson looked great in the mini camps back in May and many thought he would secure the starting position by the close of camp. That has not been the case during training camp, as the talented rookie has taken a step back.
Wilson opened training camp with three interceptions on his first day of practice. He has looked better recently, but still has been overshadowed by the other two. What he has done well is show off some surprising athleticism, as he is elusive and can throw well on the run. Wilson will need an eye-popping preseason to grab a hold of the starting role on opening day.
The Raiders are in a much stronger position at the quarterback spot with three potential starters that have shown flashes during camp. It is going to be an interesting battle that has the potential to go down to the wire.