The Las Vegas Raiders and all other NFL teams have started padded practices. Now, head coaches will have a better chance to evaluate players, and this year, they will need to make the most out of it. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there won’t be a preseason, so training camp will be more important than ever.
The Raiders are back in pads and taking the Covid-19 pandemic seriously
Last week, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden talked about monitoring the load Josh Jacobs and other veterans had. He also warned us not to overhype the rookies since they were practicing on shorts. Now that they geared up, we can have a better look at how this young Las Vegas team is doing.
In his latest conference, Gruden made it a point to emphasize the risk everyone is exposing themselves to amid the Covid-19 Pandemic. He again stated he and the organization are taking the pandemic very seriously.
“I don’t underestimate the virus. We’re happy that we’re doing alright right now, but we got a long way to go. I don’t want to underestimate the enemy. We are trying to crush it, we are trying to beat it down. I’ll just leave it at that.”
As Gruden rightly signaled, this isn’t over and team brass is doing everything they can to deal with the sanitary crisis everyone’s going through.
Clelin Ferrell was no slouch in 2019 but can definitely play better
Talking to the press, Gruden brought up sophomore defensive end Clelin Ferrell. The head coach mentioned the Clemson standout was better than people gave him credit for last year and that defensive line coach Rod Marinelli has helped him improve.
“We think he’s a good player, he wasn’t a weakling last year. He’s a good player, I think Rod Marinelli has really helped all our defensive line in terms of details and the effort, the preparation is unique. He’s playing with great confidence now, he’s doing a couple things, he’s going inside and outside. So far, so good, but we got a long way to go.”
Again, Gruden isn’t hyping or overpraising Ferrell. He’s just pointing out the defensive end is working on becoming better than he was last year. Speaking of Marinelli, Gruden talked about how he got acquainted with the defensive line coach back in Tampa.
“Coaches know coaches. When you go to the combine, you’re always looking around for the next guy you’d like to hire or who you want to be like, or who’s really good, whose film can I get to study. When I was coaching the Raiders previously, he was in Tampa with coach [Tony] Dungy and Monty Kiffin and that crowd. I lived in Tampa so I became very familiar with them. When I got traded or fired or whatever it was to Tampa, I was fortunate enough to keep him and let him be our defensive line coach.”
Marinelli hasn’t gone stagnant and is the right coach for the D-Line
Gruden later mentioned all the qualities that make Marinelli great for the defensive line coach job.
“I’m happy to have done my best recruiting job of all time to keep him in Tampa. He’s a great coach, he’s all business, he’s tough as hell, he doesn’t give in to tough times. He’s old school and he’s also on the cutting edge every year in terms of how to rush the passer and play defensive line.”
It’s refreshing to know Marinelli hasn’t become content and he’s still looking for ways to keep his coaching acumen up to date. Quite often, NFL coaches insist on doing what worked on the past, completely forgetting innovation is needed to win in the NFL.
So far, the Raiders have avoided major injuries or distractions ahead of the 2020 season. They have avoided any negative headlines such as the Hard Knock and Antonio Brown situations that surrounded the team last year. That’s quite a good sign for a team that is working on consistency and a sense of normalcy in very unusual circumstances.
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*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal