ALAMEDA, Calif. — This spring at Raiders headquarters saw wide receiver Antonio Brown sprint around the field like Steph Curry would the court for a 3-pointer, backup running back Chris Warren plow through casual contact like it was September, and an overall sense of competition reflective of a younger, improved roster.
That was before coach Jon Gruden decided to scale it down and cancel Thursday’s practice, effectively reducing minicamp to two days.
The tempo relaxed considerably Wednesday to conclude the Raiders’ spring workout program. Veteran starters spent the majority of the final session in the weight room while rookies and reserves worked without helmets, executing the playbook in situational drills.
Players will report to the facility Thursday, a team spokesman said, but they won’t hold a proper practice until training camp starts in late July in Napa, California.
An abridged minicamp is fairly common around the league, a way to reward players for their work and also decrease injury risk. Plus, at this stage, coaches have seen enough before the roughly six-week break until camp — when pads are permitted for the first time this offseason.
If there was a spring MVP, it may have been Brown.
Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock spoke glowingly about the former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver’s work ethic before and after the franchise traded two draft picks in March to acquire him. Quickly, he’s fit the billing as an intense learner, someone with a high motor who’s fanatical about being great.
Brown and quarterback Derek Carr are off to a strong start.
— Rookie running back Josh Jacobs overcame poverty and homelessness as a child en route to the NFL. Much has been written about his story, and Jacobs said Wednesday that “big-name” producers have approached him about a potential movie. “I don’t know if I’m going to do it or not,” Jacobs said. “I feel like there’s perfect timing to everything, and I just don’t feel like right now is the right time.” He cited certain aspects of his journey that aren’t public knowledge, items he’d first have to clear with family members.
— Linebacker Brandon Marshall, a Las Vegas native, participated in Wednesday’s on-field session. He otherwise missed organized team activities and minicamp to injury. The Raiders took a cautious approach with the veteran, who is expected to be a full participant in training camp.