Left tackle Jared Veldheer (68) will face his former team Sunday when the Cardinals play in Oakland.
Jared Veldheer will return to Oakland for the first time as a visitor on Sunday, to the place which watched him grow from NFL rookie to premier left tackle.
"It'll definitely be an emotional game playing back in the Coliseum," he said. "It's one of those games that you kind of have circled on the schedule before the season starts. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a special week."
There's just one thing he noticed while watching film: There aren't a whole lot of familiar faces left. Even though Veldheer has been gone less than a year, Oakland has already undergone many changes since 2013.
Dennis Allen was fired as coach after an 0-4 start, replaced on an interim basis by Tony Sparano. Rookie Derek Carr is the new quarterback and none of the four main pass-rushers Veldheer will be asked to block – Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, Khalil Mack and Antonio Smith -- were with the Raiders last season.
"There are only a few guys I know that I played with that are still on that defense," Veldheer said.
Included in Oakland's overhaul this offseason was the decision to not slap the franchise tag on Veldheer. It's worked out for them, as Donald Penn has been one of the sturdier left tackles in the league through five games.
It's also worked out for the Cardinals, who inked Veldheer to a five-year, $35 million contract in free agency and have been happy with the returns. Coach Bruce Arians loved what he saw on tape, and his only fear was a player getting complacent following a huge rush of guaranteed money into his bank account.
"You never know when you get a player, especially when they get paid, but this guy has got a great motor in the weight room, in the classroom, on the field," Arians said. "He's everything you're looking for. We love him to death."
Veldheer has allowed one sack this season– to Broncos defensive end DeMarcus Ware on a play where rookie quarterback Logan Thomas backpedaled too far in his drop – along with three hits and nine hurries, according to Pro Football Focus.
Last year, the left tackle spot manned by Levi Brown and Bradley Sowell gave up four sacks, nine hits and 11 hurries through five games. Veldheer said it's accountability to his teammates which makes him tick.
"I want to be the guy that does his job every play with no excuses," Veldheer said. "That drives you to really try to peg down techniques and to keep pushing to get better. Every week it's a new challenge because it's not like you can play good and say, 'Hey, I figured it out.' Because then the next week you've got a whole new monster across from you."
A HILLSDALE REUNION
Veldheer went to Hillsdale College, a Division II school in Hillsdale, Michigan with an enrollment of approximately 1,400. Its football program has sent six players to the NFL in its history, and one-third of those will be in action on Sunday in Oakland.
Veldheer will play opposite Raiders wide receiver Andre Holmes, who played with him for four seasons at Hillsdale. The two also played together in Oakland last year.
"It's pretty cool," Veldheer said. "Hopefully some high school seniors will see that and make the pick to go to Hillsdale."
Holmes had one of the best games of his career last week against the Chargers, catching four passes for 121 yards and two touchdowns. He has 15 receptions for 269 yards on the season, and his average of 17.9 yards per catch is eighth in the NFL.
"Andre's had some big performances for us," Sparano said. "To be honest with you, last year when you look back at the time that Andre played, he was in the tops in the league in explosive plays. So he had some good production that way, and we knew that Andre could go and get the ball."
CAMPBELL NOT PRACTICING YET
While defensive end Calais Campbell is within the one-to-three week timetable for recovery from his MCL strain, chances are slim he plays on Sunday.
Campbell missed practice on Wednesday and Arians said it's unknown whether he will practice this week.
"He just started jogging, so once he progresses – we're going to be as careful as we have to be with him, but we want him back there soon," Arians said.
PALMER PROGRESSES BUT STILL CAUTIOUS
Quarterback Carson Palmer was limited in practice on Wednesday, but after no setbacks following 44 passing attempts in Sunday's win over Washington, his shoulder injury concern seems to be waning.
However, with the unpredictable nature of a nerve injury, Palmer remains wary.
"I've said before, it's not like a hamstring pull where it is a certain week that you'll be healed," Palmer said. "I'm going to be in the woods until I am out of the woods, and I don't know what day that is, what week that is, what month it is. I just have to stick with my protocol and continue to progress every day."
Other Cardinals limited at practice were running back Andre Ellington (foot), wide receiver Michael Floyd (groin), linebacker Alex Okafor (quad), cornerback Patrick Peterson (ankle) and linebacker Glenn Carson (ankle).
Tight end John Carlson was among the players who didn't practice following a knee injury suffered against the Redskins. Defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (calf) and tight end Troy Niklas (ankle) also sat out.
Raiders who did not practice were tackle/guard Khalif Barnes (quad), wide receiver Vincent Brown (hamstring), cornerback Keith McGill (groin), fullback Marcel Reece (quad) and Tuck (knee). Quarterback Derek Carr (ankle/knee), linebacker Sio Moore (ankle) and safety Usama Young (foot) were limited.