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Oakland Raiders cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke celebrates after recovering a fumble during the first half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
NAPA -- The Raiders finished their first padded practice without incident or serious injury Wednesday morning, unless you count a late mild scuffle between undrafted free agent receiver Thomas Mayo and veteran strong safety Tyvon Branch.
Some highlights and notes: Wide receiver Denarius Moore, who has been quiet through the first two practices, missed the padded session because of a hamstring issue. Moore hurt his hamstring during the team's last minicamp.
Coach Dennis Allen said his absence was a precautionary measure. Second-year cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke has been a standout for three straight practices, sticking with Darrius Heyward-Bey on a deep pass from Carson Palmer and breaking it up. No picks, though. Free safety Michael Huff ranged all the way across the field to break up a deep Palmer pass intended for Eddie McGee and appeared to be shaken up, but he returned to finish practice. The Raiders running game excelled early during a 9-on-9 run session, with Mike Goodson doing the most damage with cutback runs. Goodson did not complete the Tuesday session with a hamstring strain but is at full strength.
Allen said the run defense gave up too much early but got better as practice went along. Allen liked the way the Raiders competed, and the fact that players were smart in keeping teammates off the ground. Early player to watch after the first padded session -- defensive end Jack Crawford, who had some impressive pass rush plays. Right guard Mike Brisiel had a couple of difficult plays, being pushed back by Desmond Bryant on one and beaten cleanly by Richard Seymour on another. Players who missed practice included cornerback Ron Bartell (hamstring), defensive tackle Travis Ivey (conditioning), punter Shane Lechler (knee), linebacker Aaron Curry (knee) and tight end Richard Gordon (hip). The passing game has a ways to go in terms of execution and crispness. Third-string quarterback Terrelle Pryor made one nice middle throw to impressive rookie Rod Streater, but often follows up a good throw with a misfire. There was no tackling to the ground allowed, but that didn't stop rookie defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi from belly-bumping Lonyae Miller to the ground on a running play. Middle linebacker Rolando McClain, whose pass coverage skills have been cited as an area of improvement by Allen, hung on a deep route with Darren McFadden which went incomplete. The Raiders take a CBA-mandated day off Thursday, with players getting the day to themselves with non practices or meetings until they return for curfew in the evening.
Yes, Allen plans on giving them a lecture on the proper use of a day off. Additional bleachers will be placed around the field as the Raiders will have between 1,000 and 1,200 fans at their next three practice sessions, a first in the 16 years the club has trained in Napa.