NAPA -- The Raiders officially will open training camp Saturday when practices kick off in Napa.
The players were trickling in Friday. Most arrived in modest fashion. Antonio Brown arrived via hot air balloon (expect anything different?).
General manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden addressed the media Friday as players were arriving, and announced that left guard Denzelle Good would start on the active/physically unable to perform list (PUP) after undergoing lower-back surgery five weeks ago. Mayock announced the "prognosis" was for Good to be ready in around two months from Friday.
The Raiders claimed Good off waivers Dec. 3 from the Colts. He started the final three games of the season at right guard in place of Gabe Jackson.
Mayock also announced that fullback Keith Smith will start the season on the non-football injury list (NFI) after injuring his knee while working out on his own recently. The injury is not expected to be anything near season-ending, according to Mayock.
With Good set to be out for two months and starting left guard Richie Incognito being suspended for the first two games of the season, that opens the door for the recently signed Jonathan Cooper to earn a starting spot in Incognito's sted.
"Well, we signed Jonathan Cooper a former first-round pick from Arizona, who's been in the league for a while, played in a system last year that was very similar to the one that we run," Gruden said. "We're really impressed with Cooper. He's healthy. He's really smart and athletic, and to have a couple of veteran guards play next to Kolton Miller is something that we're excited about, but we are certainly going to have some competition this summer at left guard."
Competing along with Cooper will be undrafted free agent Lester Cotton. Cotton, 6-foot-4, 324-pound, played his college ball at Alabama. He made 10 starts at left guard last season for the Crimson Tide after playing at right guard in 2016 and 2017.
The stability of the Raiders' offensive line is paramount to the overall success of Oakland's offense.
With a brutal road stretch coming after back-to-back home games to open the season, it's imperative for the Raiders to get off to a good start against the Broncos and Chiefs in Weeks 1 and 2. That success may largely be determined by who wins the starting left guard spot, and how well they hold up before Incognito returns in Week 3.