Former Edison High star safety Tevin McDonald is “living a dream” with the Oakland Raiders.
That dream he is talking about is being at training camp in Napa with future Hall of Fame safety Charles Woodson and coached by assistant defensive backs coach Rod Woodson – already a Hall of Famer.
“Camp is everything I thought it would be,” McDonald said Sunday. “Being surrounded by all these great players and being in this environment with these guys … I’m just soaking it all in.”
McDonald went undrafted this spring then signed quickly with the Raiders as a free agent. He missed rookie mini camp in June while finishing his degree at Eastern Washington, but the former Edison High star said he’s been getting caught up thanks to some helpful tips as the Raiders enter their first preseason game tonight against the Rams at O.co Coliseum.
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It helps when you can seek feedback daily from a teammate such as three-time first-team All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler Charles Woodson.
“He just tells me different technique, just different ways to play, different route combinations that we’re getting,” McDonald said. “He has a lot of knowledge as you can see from being in the league. Any feedback that I can grab off him is big for me.”
The same can be said of Rod Woodson, who compiled 71 interceptions, 1,483 interception return yards, 2,362 punt return yards and 17 touchdowns in 17 seasons. He is back with his second stint with the Raiders, previously coaching the cornerbacks in 2011.
“Coach Woodson is another guy that I try to get good feedback from,” McDonald said. “You can tell he was a great player by the way he makes everything so extensive. He makes it known that you should know or you should make that play.”
Of course, McDonald has also received a lifetime of knowledge from his dad, 13-year NFL veteran Tim McDonald, and older brother T.J. McDonald, now in his third season with the Rams (an established starter at safety, he’ll be watching from the sideline today).
“I’ve been blessed being around some great players – my dad being one of them,” McDonald said. “Rod and Charles … those guys along with my dad and my big brother, I’ve been around some smart guys.”
McDonald has been flashing at training camp. Last week, he jumped a route and intercepted Christian Ponder’s pass to end practice.
“I feel like I’m doing well and every day I know I have room for improvement, and I’m my toughest critic,” McDonald said. “Every day I figure how I can get better and improve, but I’m getting coached up by a lot by the guys and it’s been all good feedback, so far.
“I’m excited to put my best going forward each day ... experience my first game in the NFL and be there – not just be there to watch.”
Ex-Bulldog Harper will play, too
Former Fresno State star wide receiver Josh Harper will likely see plenty of playing time for the Raiders against the Rams.
There is no guarantee if Harper, signed as an undrafted free agent, will be on the 53-man roster when the season starts Sept. 13 against Cincinnati.
NFL teams must reduce their rosters to 75 players on the active list on Sept. 1. Four days later, rosters are cut to 53 players on the active/inactive list.
With the Bulldogs, Harper had 29 career touchdown receptions in 41 games, ranking second in school history in career touchdown catches, second in career receptions (228) and sixth in receiving yards (2,938).
Preseason opener: Raiders vs. Rams
- Friday: 7 p.m. at O.co Coliseum
- Preseason series: Raiders lead 11-7
- Regular-season series: Raiders lead 8-5