The Las Vegas Raiders lost a few players down the stretch last season. For that reason, it isn’t surprising that head coach Jon Gruden is giving a close look to the team’s rookies while giving the veterans other assignments.
The Raiders surely aren’t taking unnecessary risks
The Raiders were without their principal contributors at different points of last year. Injuries hampered Josh Jacobs, Trent Brown, and others, so it wasn’t shocking to not seem them practice with the rest of the team these past few days.
In the latest team’s presser, Gruden mentioned that Jacobs and Brown are working. That just because they aren’t practicing on the field with the rest of the team, something is wrong.
“They’re not out, they’re still working. You don’t see them, but they’re working. They’re working in a different capacity. We need the time on task for some of these players who we have no idea about. Chance to see Devontae Booker and Lynn Bowden. Lynn Bowden is making the transition from quarterback to running back. Devontae Booker is learning a new system. Neither one of them took a snap in the offseason, I wanna see them. I got stuff in here Jacobs, and some of the other guys, Trent Brown, to do right now.”
Gruden asked not to read too much on the veterans’ absence and he made the decision with the Raider’s best interest in mind. He said “head coach gets to make a few decisions along the way” and added that “you’ll see those guys soon enough.”
In the end, Gruden is erring on the right side of caution, as there is no need to give proven veterans a heavy workload at this point in training camp. Moreover, it helps him evaluate all the rookies and newcomers.
Gruden is using the time to evaluate the team’s young players
Speaking of rookies, Gruden mentioned that cornerback Damon Arnette and the rest of the Raiders’ young core are going through the growing pains just everyone else at this stage of their development.
“They’re young and they are athletic, and we got a long way to go. They had some good snaps, they had some bad snaps, but we had good competition today and we are excited about the youth that we have. Obviously, we rebuilt our defense, it’s a process.”
Surprisingly, Gruden didn’t resort to hyperbole and threw a bucket of cold water to the hype surrounding the Raiders newcomers.
“We haven’t even put the pad on yet, so I’m not going to get way ahead of myself after one full-speed shorts practice, we rebuilt the whole defense, there’s not one starter that was here in our first game. We knew we had a task, a big task, we were gonna draft young players and play young players. Mike Mayock’s coming here with five first-round draft choices. We used a high pick on safety, another high pick on a corner, another high pick on a corner. We’re going to keep getting better and better We have a long way to go.”
Back in his analyst days, Gruden would praise pretty much every single prospect and call them the best next thing. That doesn’t seem to be the case when he has his head coach cap on. As he signaled, it’s too early to come with any meaningful conclusions as the regular season is still one month away.
This is Year 3 of Gruden’s tenure with the Raiders. He has had the chance to tear down and rebuild the team the way he has wanted. It’s time to see results on the field, and based on how practices have transpired, they are off to a solid start.
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Top Photo: Jeff Chiu Associated Press