|Niners, Raiders hold joint practice|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 04 August 2008 12:45|
Those two small tussles proved to be an exception at an intense but controlled joint practice Monday between the Bay Area rival 49ers and Raiders.
``It's always fun to go against another color,'' Raiders safety Jarrod Cooper said. ``You get bored with the same thing. But that's just part of it. It was fun. A lot more productive than I thought it was going to be. I thought people's tempers would be flying, but it really wasn't. It was good. It was a good practice. I got a lot out of it.''
Raiders coach Lane Kiffin and Niners coach Mike Nolan decided to spice up training camp with the joint practice session that allowed the two teams to work against different players and different styles in advance of their preseason game Friday.
The teams used the Raiders' format for practice, with the teams starting off by doing individual drills on opposite fields and then going up against each other in seven-on-seven, 11-on-11 and individual formats. The players were in full pads, but there was no tackling, with coaches yelling ``Stay up! Stay up!'' at times.
Raiders owner Al Davis even made his first training camp appearance at a morning practice session, sitting on a golf cart in between the two practice fields, watching intently as his defense went against the Niners offense.
``I think it was very productive,'' Kiffin said. ``I think it seemed like the defense got the best ends on both sides of the field, which would be normal situation, with guys coming in and not knowing what the other side is going to do exactly and what they've been doing all offseason.''
The concern of the coaches before the practice was that the intensity of facing an opponent would boil over and lead to a scuffle. But for the most part the teams stayed under control, with the exception of the two minor incidents.
The bigger one started when Hartwell hit Norris with a shoulder as he went across the middle to make a catch in a seven-on-seven drill.
``I wasn't trying to take him to the ground,'' Hartwell said. ``It was just that when I hit him it kind of lifted him up. I guess it was kind of too hard for him. I didn't really hit him that hard but he got kind of upset.''
Norris got up in Hartwell's face, leading to the small scuffle. Cooper then grabbed running back Frank Gore from behind, thinking it was his friend and former Carolina teammate DeShaun Foster. Gore knocked Cooper's helmet off and the two wrestled a bit before the entire scuffle died down.
Afterward, Nolan went over and tried to calm down Hartwell, who played in Baltimore when Nolan was an assistant with the Ravens.
``If things are important to you, you will fight about it,'' Nolan said. ``We had a couple of those. It was nothing that took away from our ability to work.''
Niners tight end Vernon Davis got involved in some yelling after the Hartwell hit but was mostly on his best behavior, which was a concern considering he has been known to fight with his own teammates.
``I didn't look to start any fights or anything like that,'' Davis said. ``As my coach said, 'If you get into anything, be careful to do it safely and be smart.' I just pretty much walked away from everything.''
The practice served as a reunion for some players, such as Raiders tackle Kwame Harris and Niners tackle Barry Sims, who switched teams in the offseason.
Harris, a first-round pick by the Niners in 2003, signed with Oakland as a free agent in the offseason. He started all 32 games in 2005-06 for the 49ers before being relegated to a backup role last season.
After practice, Harris made a point to walk over to the Niners' field and catch up with former teammates and coaches he had been close to in his five years in San Francisco.
``Those are the guys that brought me into this league, like family in a sense,'' he said. ``There's not the sense of vindictiveness as much as it's like playing against your sibling.''
Sims, who joined the Raiders as an undrafted free agent in 1999, started all 16 games at left tackle for the Raiders last season as their longest-tenured player. He played both guard and tackle for Oakland, making 119 starts before being released in February in a cost-cutting move.
Sims said there wasn't much trash-talking on the field from his former teammates.
``Nobody said anything to me. They just said, 'What's up?''' he said. ``I got a lot of love up here. That felt good. I wasn't sure what it was going to be like but a lot of my former teammates gave me a lot of love and that was nice.''