Postcard from camp: Raiders
At Raiders camp in Napa, Calif., an area so tranquil and beautiful you can't help but think about wine tours and spa treatments. The set-up is unique in that the team works out on fields behind a Marriott hotel. I was there on a sun-soaked afternoon for the last of three open practices for fans.
The most notable changes were on defense and on the sideline. Davis' teams always played man-to-man press coverage, but this year they will use multiple coverages and incorporate some 3-4 schemes to go with what has been their traditional base 4-3 fronts. On the sideline, there were about 1,000 fans seated in temporary bleachers. Club employees couldn't remember practices ever being open to the public when Davis was alive. The added energy was a positive for coach Dennis Allen, who acknowledged that camp can become monotonous for players by the second week. A sideline full of vocal fans can provide a bigger boost for players than a 5-Hour Energy drink.
Grantland.com estimates that the Raiders will fly a league-high 28,700 miles this season. That's the bad. The good: They play back-to-back road games just twice, and do not travel to the Eastern time zone in consecutive weeks. Also, if they can stay in contention through November, the travel schedule is favorable in that they leave the state of California only once (for Carolina) in their final five games.