With preseason action underway, the spotlight is shining brightly on the struggles of some key players for the Las Vegas Raiders. With high expectations for the upcoming season, fans and coaches are eagerly watching to see how these players will perform. From offensive linemen struggling to protect the quarterback to wide receivers dropping crucial passes, the early days of training camp have not been smooth sailing for everyone.
Let’s face it, pressure is mounting for some of those players. Starting on Sunday, many will have to fight to prove their worth and secure their spots on the roster. With every snap, the tension builds, and the stakes become higher.
Will these struggling Raiders players be able to turn things around and regain their form before the season begins? Only time will tell. For now, all eyes are on them as they strive to overcome early struggles and make a lasting impact on the team.
Needless to say, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows at Raiders training camp. It’s very early in the season, but there are a few potential headlines to monitor.
Alex Bars and the Wide-Open Right Guard Competition
While the right tackle position is a two-man race, the competition for the right guard spot in front of Jimmy Garoppolo is wide open. Alex Bars, who held the starting role last season, faced criticism for his performance. Honestly, that’s not exactly shocking. He ranked among the lowest-graded offensive linemen in the league.
The Raiders have introduced two new contenders for the position this offseason. Netane Muti, a 2020 sixth-round pick with four career starts, brings potential and upside despite his limited experience. Greg Van Roten, an eight-year NFL veteran with 54 career starts, offers stability and a solid presence.
However, there is also a dark horse in the mix. Undrafted rookie McClendon Curtis, who played multiple positions in college, has impressed with his talent and athleticism. Though it may be a long shot for Curtis to secure the starting job, his unexpected fall out of the draft has given the Raiders a valuable asset. The right guard competition remains wide open, and any of the three contenders could emerge as the starter for the upcoming season.
Jimmy Garoppolo: Overcoming Rustiness and a New Offense in Vegas
One of the biggest storylines emerging from camp has been Garoppolo’s struggles. However, it’s important not to hit the panic button just yet. Garoppolo is adjusting to a new offense, which presents a significant change from the system he has been accustomed to for the past six years. As expected, fans are concerned when they hear reports of Garoppolo’s struggles and the defense seemingly getting the upper hand during practice sessions.
Descriptions of his play often include the term “rusty,” which is understandable considering he hasn’t played a game since December 2022. However, it’s worth noting that it’s still early in the camp, and there is plenty of time for Garoppolo to find his rhythm and build chemistry with his new teammates.
A potential silver lining for Raiders fans is the emergence of rookie fourth-round pick Aidan O’Connell. Despite being labeled an “absolute statue in the pocket,” O’Connell has impressed with his performance during camp. While Garoppolo continues to find his footing, keep an eye on the competition between the veteran and the promising rookie, as it could become a real battle for the starting quarterback position.
Maxx Crosby: Exuberant and Borderline Crazy in Camp
In the high-intensity world of football, energy is often seen as a valuable asset. The ability to bring contagious enthusiasm to the field can uplift teammates and drive them to perform at their best. However, in the case of Maxx Crosby, his exuberant energy during Raiders training camp is raising some concerns.
While his passion for the game is unquestionable, some worry that his relentless intensity could pose a risk to his fellow players. We have already seen him nearly take out star rookie Michael Mayer in a “welcome to the NFL” hit.
His passion for the game can inspire his teammates to give it their all and push through tough moments. His relentless energy can create a positive atmosphere on the field, fostering a sense of camaraderie and unity among the players. This can have a significant impact on team morale and motivation, leading to better performance and results.
However, there is a fine line between motivation and recklessness. Crosby’s exuberance, if not properly managed, can pose significant risks during training camp. The intense physical nature of the sport combined with his high energy levels might lead to impulsive actions and potential injuries.
It is crucial for the coaching staff — and Crosby himself — to find a way to channel his enthusiasm in a fashion that benefits the team without compromising the safety and well-being of all players involved.
Jermaine Eluemunor Struggles During Raiders Training Camp?
In addition to Garoppolo’s challenges, the Raiders’ O-line has also encountered other issues. One player in particular that we’re referring to is Jermaine Eluemunor. The rotation of players on the offensive line, especially on the right side, has likely contributed to Garoppolo’s difficulties in practice.
Thankfully, the left side of the line appears to be solidified with Kolton Miller at left tackle. Next to him, we find Dylan Parham at left guard and Andre James at center, yet the right side remains uncertain. Eluemunor, who started as the incumbent right tackle, now finds himself in a heated battle with second-year lineman Thayer Munford.
Several factors have compromised Eluemunor’s chances of retaining his starting position. However, big-picture-wise, Munford has shown improvement since last season, making a solid case for himself. Even so, Eluemunor’s struggles from the previous year have continued, including a high number of penalties.
Moreover, reports suggest that his attitude on the sideline after being substituted was less than ideal. As a result, Munford has a real opportunity to seize the starting role if he can demonstrate consistent performance and discipline.
*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal