ALAMEDA, Calif. -- The Oakland Raiders concluded their mandatory three-day minicamp on Thursday, which was attended by everyone on their roster. Here are 10 observations from the final practice.
1. Second-year cornerback D.J. Hayden, who injured his left ankle in the first session of organized team activities, never got back on the practice field and coach Dennis Allen acknowledged Hayden is behind. "I don't think there's any way you can sugarcoat that," Allen said. "I mean, he's behind ... though it's nothing that he can't overcome. But he needs to be healthy and he needs to be out here and he needs to work. We'll see where he's at when we go through training camp."
2. Second-round draft choice Derek Carr has supplanted Matt McGloin as the second-string quarterback and Allen acknowledged he expects the Raiders to enter training camp with Carr as Matt Schaub's backup. "We're trying to expedite his progression and I've liked a lot of things I've seen out of Derek," Allen said. "He's still got a long way to go and I like the direction he's headed."
3. Big ticket offseason acquisition/right guard Austin Howard missed practice Thursday with a finger injury. "We sent him over to get an X-ray on his finger," Allen said. "Again, it's nothing that's going to be a big deal for him but more of a precautionary measure than anything else." With Howard out, Khalif Barnes took first-team reps at right guard, with Donald Penn at left tackle, rookie Gabe Jackson at left guard, Stefen Wisniewski at center and Menelik Watson at right tackle. "That was a lot of extra work for Gabe," Allen said, "so that was good for him."
4. Seventh-round draft pick T.J. Carrie has impressed the Raiders with his play at cornerback. "I've been very impressed with him, his ability to understand what we're trying to do within the scheme of the defense," Allen said. "What you look for in guys like that, you look for a guy that's going to make a play that kind of catches your attention and really, just about every day, there's been something that he's done that you say, ‘Damn, that was a pretty good play.'"
5. Top draft pick Khalil Mack also continues to impress, both coaches and teammates ... with his on-field play, though, more than with his singing voice. Veterans tried to have him sing R. Kelly and Usher songs after practice, Mack said, though without his trusty guitar, he had no background music.
6. Taiwan Jones, still making the transition to cornerback, had a pretty interception of McGloin, even if the pass itself was underthrown. Safety Jonathan Dowling, who was also a seventh-round draft pick, picked off Carr and later knocked down a McGloin pass down the right sideline. Still, there were some nice catches turned in by the likes of receiver Juron Criner across the middle and tight end Mychal Rivera over Tyvon Branch. "You never want to see things just totally one-sided, because that's not the sign of a good football team," Allen said.
7. There was a brief skirmish -- a couple of pushes -- between tackle Dan Kistler and defensive end Denico Autry. Who? It took longer to look up their names than the actual fight lasted. I kid ... kinda.
8. Allen said there is a palpable feel to how much, well, better this Raiders team is. "I don't think there's any question you can feel that," he said. "You guys have been around here, too, so I think you've seen these practices around here for a while. I think we've had an outstanding ofseason." Allen said he will spend two weeks of vacation in Florida with his family between now and the start of training camp.
9. Veteran weakside linebacker Kevin Burnett was a no-show to the first session of voluntary OTAs and has been rehabbing an injury since arriving for the second round of OTAs. Allen said he expects Burnett to compete for a starting job at training camp. Still, Sio Moore has moved from the strongside to the Will and Miles Burris began taking first-team reps on the weak side this week, with Nick Roach in the middle and rookie Mack on the strongside.
10. Raiders owner Mark Davis was an observer and said after practice that stadium talks for his team to remain in Oakland were "positive, but nothing happens after the talks." He also said he does not consider Major League Baseball's Athletics to be a rival for the Coliseum site but wishes that A's owner Lew Wolff would make his long-term intentions known.