Recently, the Raiders’ No. 1 draft choice, safety Karl Joseph, said he’s counting the days until training camp. He'll finally be able to fully participate after an offseason of rehab.
“I can’t wait to put the pads back on and just get out there and compete with those guys,” said Joseph, who tore knee ligaments in his final season at West Virginia.
For the Raiders, it’s probably a universal feeling.
After an offseason of big free-agent acquisitions, the draft and a relatively injury-free offseason program, the Raiders have high expectations for the first time in years. After Jack Del Rio guided Oakland to a 7-9 record, the team now appears to be a legitimate contender for the AFC West championship and its first playoff spot since the 2002 season. Many Raiders veterans – such as linebacker Malcolm Smith – have said they can’t wait to get started, just like Joseph.
“Camp is going to raise our competition level on both sides of the ball,” Smith told reporters recently. “I’m really excited to just go out there and bang around and get some opponents in front of us and show what we can do as a group.”
That quest will begin in less than two weeks, when rookies and quarterbacks report to the team’s training facility in Napa on July 24. Veterans are expected to report July 28, with the first full-squad training camp session set for July 29 at the Napa Valley Marriott.
The Raiders will get the chance to play their first game in the exhibition opener in Arizona against the Cardinals on Aug. 12. They’ll follow that with a game at Green Bay on Aug. 18. The Titans (Aug. 27) and Seahawks (Sept. 1) will come into Oakland to conclude the preseason schedule. The regular-season opener is Sept. 11 in New Orleans vs. the Saints.
Key roster-cutdown dates during training camp are Aug. 30 (down to 75 players) and Sept. 3 (53).