ALAMEDA – The Raiders altered Friday’s practice schedule due to poor air quality. They converted a typically light end-of-prep-week session to a walk through -- meaning it was consequently shortened – upon recommendation from the Raiders training staff.
Air quality was poor and deemed unhealthy by the Environmental Protection Agency due to thick smoke emanating from the Camp Fire near Chico.
“You have to adapt to the circumstances,” head coach Jon Gruden said. “We tightened practice up while trying to get the reps in that we needed.”
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Gruden didn’t make the move because players practiced in poor air quality on Thursday as well.
“It was about being preventive, about listening to the trainer and being smart about what he says,” Gruden said. “It’s also about being respectful to the reality of what’s going on here.”
That fire is causing significant damage to life and property in Butte County and was five percent contained as of late Friday morning. Southbound smoke is a side effect of those issues. The EPA’s air quality forecasts, which can change in a snap, report that the air could be unhealthy for sensitive groups on Sunday when the Raiders are slated to play the Chargers at Oakland Coliseum.
An NFL spokesman said Friday afternoon the league is monitoring the situation, as it did last year when air quality issues arose, and staying in close contact with clubs and local authorities. Raiders-Chargers is currently set to kick off as scheduled.
Gruden was asked about the prospect of moving the game, but he emphasized that carries far less weight than what’s going on around these fires.
“I don’t know about that,” Gruden said. “I just hope the fires go away. I’m more concerned about the people impacted by this. We’ll react to whatever the circumstances are. We just hope that this ends fast.”