Even in the midst of a pandemic, the NFL and the Las Vegas Raiders must carry on with business. Having completely altered the offseason, what could all the COVID-19 ramifications end up meaning for the Silver and Black?
The 2020 NFL season will be like no other in its history. All facets of the game have been affected by the virus, from stadium attendance to how offseason programs have and continue to be conducted. The preseason, which has become a source of contention in recent years, was completely abolished as well.
As for the Raiders, the changes can present themselves as both opportunities and disadvantages. The team can certainly make the most of it as far as opportunities go, and then there’s the wild card factor of what the virus could potentially do, even as far as prematurely ending the season.
The toughest is probably to get acclimated…
Raiders rookie Henry Ruggs III, who comes into the season with much fanfare, alluded to the state of things via Tashan Reed’s latest at The Athletic.
“The toughest is probably to get acclimated. Everybody’s just been at home doing training on their own for what they think things will be like. Pretty much, the biggest thing is transitioning from personal workouts to actual on-the-field things such as walkthroughs and real practices.”
Ruggs’ words point to the disadvantage of the Raiders’ rookie class going into their first year without much preparation. Training camp by all measures will be different this year as well, fans should expect a slower transition into the NFL for this year’s class than in 2019. The team’s key free-agent acquisitions have also been affected by this as head coach Jon Gruden pointed out, “I’ve never met Cory Littleton. We paid this guy a lot of money to be our feature defensive player. There’s a lot of free agents I have not had hands-on contact with either. And we’re not the lone ranger: Everybody in the league is going through this. We have to do the best we can.”
A Possible Silver Lining? Maybe.
In Gruden’s observation, there’s one possible shred of positivity, albeit a slim one. The virus is already affecting all teams, more importantly, it’s forcing many players to opt out of the 2020 season. Obviously, the Raiders don’t want to win it all in a season where no one’s 100% but wins are wins in the NFL. It’s entirely possible that the Raiders’ roster doesn’t suffer any losses due to the virus while others are decimated. Gruden himself alluded to this, “It’s not going to be an equitable or fair season. Some teams are going to be hit hard by this virus and some teams might not.”
In the end, a lot of this is out of Gruden’s hands, that much can’t be argued. What he can do though is take advantage of any possible situations that arise, especially in the AFC West, where a win against an affected team counts all the same even if there was no COVID. It’s shaping up to be an interesting season for the Silver and Black all things considered.
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*Top Photo: Don Juan Moore/Getty Images