NAPA – P.J. Hall weights over 300 pounds, built like a cannonball and carries a low center of gravity. Knocking the second-year defensive tackle off balance is no easy task.
Except, apparently, for Trent Brown.
The new Raiders right tackle outflanked Hall, and then put all 6-foot-8, 380 pounds into him. The result was not pretty, though it might've registered on the Ritcher scale. Hall was up one moment and driven straight down the next, a surefire sign that Brown was finally allowed to hit.
Players make contact in shells and shorts, bit intensity cranks up when the pads go on. That happened Monday morning in the team's third training camp practice
The Raiders went hard in a session that produces valuable film, and provides a real progress report for the running game and linemen on both sides.
It's also an indicator of something even more important.
"You get see where everybody's heart is at," Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict said. "With no pads, it's different. You see different types of players in this environment."
Brown showed well on a day made for someone of his size and disposition, but he wasn't the only one. The entire Raiders offensive line had a strong day, with Kolton Miller walling off the left edge. He fared particularly well against first-round end Clelin Ferrell, who still showed tenacity and technique up front.
Rookie Maxx Crosby showed his signature speed several times, and got around Brown at lease once. James Cowser had some nice moments against lesser competition, and Arden Key traded blows with Brandon Parker on the second unit.
The Raiders will practice in pads several times during training camp, with solid opportunities to show progress in between games.
"The first thing I look for, is that you don't lose your technique," defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. "Pads come on and things go faster and the contact feels more live. We need great technique all the time, but in these situations we also have to be mindful and take care of the guys on the other side."
Punter battle kicks off
Johnny Townsend was a fifth-round draft pick just last year, but his job's already in jeopardy. Undrafted N.C. State alum A.J. Cole was signed to compete for the gig this season, after Townsend struggled as a rookie with a dismal 38.3-yards per punt net average.
Neither punter inspired confidence or put forth a great impression on Monday, though Cole had some pretty attempts toward the end of a 15-minute punting period. Both guys shanked a few, that couldn't even been called quality if directional punting was prioritized over distance.
Dwayne Harris is expected to return punts, but the Raiders also had Hunter Renfrow, Rico Gafford, J.J. Nelson and Jalen Richard back deep during that special-teams period.
Guy Fieri in the house
Popular celebrity chef and noted Raiders fan Guy Fieri was at practice on Monday to see the 2019 crew, and several of his friends on staff. The North Bay native makes a full BBQ lunch for the squad each training camp, but that event comes far later into the team's stay in Napa.
More on-field action
- The first practice in pads for the Raiders delivered up-and-down results from both units.
Early on in seven-on-seven drills, do-it-all secondary savant Lamarcus Joyner blanketed rookie Hunter Renfrow before jumping the route and picking off Derek Carr.
Carr responded on the very next snap, though, as running back Jalen Richard beat Daryl Worley up the seam and Carr put one on the money for a touchdown, delighting the Raider fans in attendance.
- Undrafted free agent Dylan Mabin made some fans for life during seven-on-seven drills, while working against veteran receiver Dwayne Harris. Lined up in the slot, Harris ran a short out route and appeared to have Mabin beat, but the Fordham product recovered, diving to break up the pass. When Mabin got up he gave an emphatic incomplete sign and high-fives a few fans who had front-row seats to his recovery.
- The emphasis on getting Carr to be more mobile has stuck through the first three days of camp, as Carr scrambled for a touchdown in seven-on-sevens and did a little dance for the "Hard Knocks" cameras in attendance.
On the next snap, Carr fired a bullet to Harris in between three defenders, drawing "oohs," "aahs" and cheers from Raiders nation.
- Paul Guenther's defense has been working on running to the ball early in camp, but safety Erik Harris got a little overzealous when he ran after receiver Marcell Ateman and went for a hard strip after the whistle was blown. Ateman appeared to injure his right wrist on the strip, jogging back to the huddle while holding his arm. The second-year pro appears to be alright, and was seen working with teammates after practice.
-- Antonio Brown, Trayvon Mullen (wrist), Eddie Vanderdoes (concussion), Jonathan Cooper, Quinton Bell and Ronald Ollie did not practice Wednesday.
NBC Sports Bay Area reporter Josh Schrock contributed to this report.