NAPA, Calif. — One of the day’s biggest hits on the field took place well after practice had ended.
Raider, a Dutch shepherd police dog for the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, made the trip from Las Vegas to put on a demonstration of his talents.
Quarterback Derek Carr led a contingent of teammates back out onto the field to watch as Raider showed how he assists in apprehending and controlling suspects, much to the players’ delight.
Raiders players watch presentation from a Las Vegas metro dog named Raider. Team donated this Dutch shepherd to the department. pic.twitter.com/ZapCeOu9fF
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) August 6, 2019
“We were in need for a dog,” Officer David Newton told the Review-Journal. “We reached out to the Raiders knowing they were coming to town and asked if they could help us get a new dog to help protect the community, and the Raiders stepped up to the plate for us. They put us up in a place to cover the training and covered all the expenses so it was a really nice process.
“LVMPD and the Raiders are meshing really well and coming together as a team.”
Newton, a lifelong Raiders fan, said the training process is approximately 12 weeks long.
“We have to make sure the dog is fit for the job and has a good temperament,” he said. “He’s over here wanting to get petted by everyone right now and the next minute he’s got to go to work. We call them light switch dogs. Turn them on, then turn them off.”
There were quite a few “oohs” and “aahs” from the crowd as strong-legged rookie A.J. Cole took his turn in handling the punting duties during Tuesday’s practice.
The booming kicks certainly drew the attention of coach Jon Gruden.
“I think one of the biggest battles is the punter,” Gruden said. “This A.J. Cole came out again today and has really put himself in position to win the job. I’m not saying he’s in the lead or he’s going to win the job, but he’s putting himself in position for one hell of a battle here in the next couple games.”
Cole, who is looking to unseat incumbent Johnny Townsend, was listed as the backup when the first unofficial depth chart was released Monday.
Gruden’s comments reflect a wide-open competition, though Cole will also have to prove he can also serve as a holder after Townsend thrived in that role a season ago after the Raiders used a fifth-round pick on him.
“(Cole) can kick off, he can hold and he can punt,” Gruden said. “He’s got a great leg.”
Townsend, more of a directional punter, finished near the bottom of the league with a 43.2 yard average last season.
Tight end Paul Butler and defensive end Quinton Bell returned to practice Tuesday after missing several sessions last week. Defensive tackles Gabe Wright and Eddie Vanderdoes remained sidelined, along with wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Tight end Darren Waller got in his second consecutive limited practice. A sprained shoulder joint caused him to miss a day last week. Gruden said he doesn’t expect Waller to see much action the next two days.
Defensive tackle P.J. Hall appeared to tweak his lower back early in practice. He returned after receiving treatment on the field before leaving for good a few minutes later.