NAPA (CBS / AP) — The Oakland Raiders signed third-round draft pick Tony Bergstrom on Saturday, two days before the team holds its first practice of training camp.
The former Utah guard, the Raiders’ first draft pick of the post-Al Davis era, was among a few dozen players who arrived at the team’s facilities near the base of picturesque Napa Valley following a lengthy bus ride from the Bay Area that took nearly twice as long as usual because of traffic.
“I wasn’t about to miss anything,” said Bergstrom, the 95th player selected in the draft. “(The deal) was hashed out a long time ago. I’m not about to be the first holdout of the new CBA as a third-rounder.”
That dubious distinction could fall on the shoulders of fellow rookie Juron Criner.
The rookie wide receiver is the Raiders’ only draft pick not under contract. The fifth-round pick is apparently holding out for a bigger signing bonus.
Criner still has some time to get something done before officially becoming a holdout.
While the majority of Oakland players were scheduled to arrive on Saturday, the official reporting day is Sunday when the players will also be given a pre-camp physical.
The Raiders won’t hold their first training camp practice under rookie head coach Dennis Allen until Monday morning.
For Bergstrom, it will be his first time in full pads since the end of his senior season at Utah. Under terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams are restricted from holding any full-contact drills during OTAs and minicamps.
“I’m eager to strap it up,” the 6-foot-5, 310-pound Bergstrom said. “A lot of the improvement comes when you put on pads. It’s hard to do a ton when you’re just in helmets.”
The 25-year-old Bergstrom is heading into his first NFL training camp feeling pretty about things. He’s made a pretty smooth transition to guard after spending most of his time at Utah playing tackle, and his wife recently gave the birth to the couple’s second child.
Bergstrom is also expected to push veteran Cooper Carlisle for the job at left guard. Carlisle was Oakland’s starting right guard for the past five years before moving to the left side to make room for newcomer Mike Brisiel.
“Being in a left-handed stance feels a lot more natural right now when I get down and run or whatever,” Bergstrom said. “It’s getting there.”
Getting to Napa proved a bit of a task for Bergstrom and his teammates, most of them undrafted rookies. The trip from the Bay Area, which normally takes 45 minutes, lasted nearly twice that long as the two buses carrying the players inched through the traffic.
“I’m not used to the California traffic yet,” Bergstrom said. “I think everybody kind of got on with a nervous tension, then about 20 minutes into the bus ride everybody was just wanting to get off the bus.”
Veterans such as Sebastian Janikowski didn’t have to take the bus. The Pro Bowl kicker Janikowski drove up on his own and showed up holding a suitcase in one hand with a golf bag draped over his right shoulder.
Brisiel and Jared Veldheer were also among the early arrivals. Brisiel, who signed with Oakland in the offseason after spending six seasons in Houston, still had Texas plates on his all-black car as he pulled into the parking lot behind the Marriott Hotel where the Raiders stay during camp.
Allen and members of his staff took a brief tour of the two practice fields the team will use at the junior high school located behind the hotel but the Raiders coach did not talk to reporters.
Players were expected to continue to trickle in throughout the evening. The deadline for reporting is at breakfast on Sunday.
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