NAPA -- Lane Kiffin's time at USC has a direct impact on how he looks for free agents.
Linebacker Jon Alston was picked up last year because Kiffin remembered Alston running down Reggie Bush from behind.
So the arrival of receiver of Todd Watkins this offseason makes sense. Watkins, a seventh-round pick of Arizona in 2006, was claimed off waivers from Atlanta.
Watkins has been making highlight catches all of training camp. And his work in Napa isn't the first time Kiffin has seen Watkins show up big.
"He's made a number of plays for us down the field on balls," Kiffin said. "We played (BYU) at SC his junior year and he had a great junior season, was all over the field, beat us on a deep ball. The only deep ball we gave up all year was him. He does make a lot of down-the-field plays and he's great to have around, he's been here the whole offseason working really hard."
Watkins remembers the catch very well.
USC's Bush and offensive lineman Travis Watkins, Todd's brother. Bush and Watkins were teammates at Helix High School in the San Diego area.
"That was probably one of the highlights of my career," Watkins said. "I was playing against Reggie and my brother and I really wanted to make an impact. It was about a 69-yard go route down the left sideline, in front of their bench so I was real excited to make a play."
As for the impressive grabs he's made in camp:
"I try not to think about anything else or who's around me," he said. "I just try to hang on to the ball. I don't actually see how it goes down until I get back in the film room and I say 'wow that was a crazy catch.' I just try to go out there and make it happen."
Assuming the Raiders keep six receivers, Watkins appears to be in a three-man race for two spots.
Javon Walker, Ronald Curry, Drew Carter and Johnnie Lee Higgins would appear to be safe. That would leave Watkins, and draft picks Arman Shields and Chaz Schilens leading the group for the final two spots.
Even though Kiffin hasn't been saying "Everything counts" like he did last year, if that is true, it's a race between the rookies for the last spot.
Greg Wesley is practicing again, but he is on pace to be this year's Donovin Darius.
Right now, Jarrod Cooper is looking good with the second-team defense at safety. Rookie Tyvon Branch hasn't shown up as much as Cooper, but his kick return skills make him a keeper.
Cooper is also a big part of special teams.
Is there a place on the roster for a fifth safety that doesn't play special teams? That would be very unlikely.
It'll be interesting to see what Wesley does at practice this afternoon and the rest of training camp.
I'll check back in after this afternoon's practice.