With training camp in full swing, the Las Vegas Raiders are less than a day away from hosting the Minnesota Vikings at Allegiant Stadium. One of the positions that has garnered much attention (other than the offensive line) is the linebacker group. It seems, though, that the rotation is coming together quite nicely at Raiders camp.
Everyone knows that 2021 Pro Bowler Denzel Perryman will be one of the starters this season. He emerged as a leader on the defense, adjusting and flourishing in Vegas as well. Despite some concerns regarding his coverage skills, it does appear that defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is comfortable having Perryman resume his role in the coach’s scheme. That would leave the rest of the rotation as a competition. As of now, Jayon Brown and Divine Deablo will round out the rest of the group. As far as getting this linebacker corps ready, assistant coach Antonio Pierce recently spoke about what he’s looking for.
Raiders Camp: “Their Eyes, That’s The Hardest Thing to Train,” Says Antonio Pierce
Coach Pierce made it known that what he’s focusing on this offseason with his linebackers is the fundamentals. He elaborated a bit more on this notion.
“The most critical thing, I always thought, was just their eyes; I think that’s the hardest thing to train. That helps you anticipate and play faster. I really talk about that in the film room with these guys: Just understanding their keys and reading their keys. That’s having no false steps, not taking two steps to his right to go left, we want to take all that out. The game is played too fast and the guys on the other side of the ball are too good. That’s what you want. I look for the mental aspect; obviously, if they’re in this room and this building, they can do it physically.”
A Super Bowl-winning linebacker and renowned assistant coach at Arizona State, Pierce has impressed with the work he’s put in. By all accounts, Deablo has had a solid camp, and once he’s fully healthy, he’ll likely take the second starting job. He is absolutely right in his approach. These linebackers already check off the physical traits; it’s more about getting their recognition skills and awareness to another level. That’ll be something to keep an eye on as they’ll be heavily relied upon in Graham’s scheme.
*Top Photo: Chris Unger/Getty Images