Rookies in the National Football League experience their “Welcome to the NFL” moment in a variety of ways. This moment can come in the form of a significant touchdown, or in the case of Las Vegas Raiders rookie Michael Mayer, a brutal tackle.
The rookie tight end took the podium Tuesday and described his “Welcome to the NFL” experience.
Las Vegas Raiders rookie Michael Mayer gets wake-up call from ‘The Condor’
When up at the podium to speak, Michael Mayer told reporters he had a rough time during the initial day of training camp with pads. This was the first day of camp where players were able to make full, or close to full, contact with each other.
Mayer was blessed enough to get to work on his blocking technique against Pro Bowl defensive end Maxx Crosby. The rookie stated that this technique was “all over the place,” adding he had not been hit in “four to six months, and [Maxx Crosby] showed it.”
Who better to welcome Michael Mayer to the Las Vegas Raiders/NFL than one of the best defensive players in the league? Crosby is known for playing with relentless tenacity and grit. He doesn’t take it easy in practice, either.
Mayer went on to say that he got “embarrassed” by Crosby. The rookie chalked up this occurrence as his “Welcome to the NFL” moment, acknowledging it’s going to help him this season, and as his career progresses. Head coach Josh McDaniels and the rest of the offense should benefit from their rookie tight end learning from a defensive end that notched 12.5 sacks last season. Crosby also lead the league in tackles for loss with 22.
Michael Mayer isn’t shying away from the challenge
Mayer spoke to the press further about his interaction with the defensive star, noting he and Crosby have not spoken about the rough first day in pads. The rookie stated he hopes there is an appreciation from Crosby on his end, and in the meantime, added “there is on mine for sure.” Mayer mentioned that Crosby is “making me better every day I’m out there.”
The first-year Raiders tight end did not appear shell shocked or scared by the experience in any way. Quite the opposite, in fact. Mayer told the media that Crosby is “bringing it” and he is trying to “bring it” as much as he can.
Michael Mayer on his Welcome to the NFL moment with Maxx Crosby to open camp: pic.twitter.com/pJnNLQybaZ
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) August 22, 2023
Earlier in August, after training camp kicked off, head coach Josh McDaniels verified Mayer’s account of the first day in pads. McDaniels called the trial by fire a learning lesson, or a “baptism” for Mayer.
McDaniels referred to the Crosby/Mayer duel as a lesson, but not a bad one. The head coach recalled that Mayer had a great attitude and pointed out the areas where he needs to improve. McDaniels described Mayer as “tough” and having “no back down.”
Iron sharpens iron
Josh McDaniels and the rest of the offense should benefit from their rookie tight end learning the hard way. The Raiders haven’t had a defensive leader like Crosby to help lead their newer players in recent years.
As stated earlier, McDaniels summarized Mayer’s “Welcome to the NFL” moment as a baptism. The play caller also reiterated that Crosby’s intentions were good, and that he wanted to help make Mayer better. The phrase “iron sharpens iron” comes to mind. When tough competitors challenge one another, it can often bring out the best in both of them.
Expect to see Mayer benefit from the hard lessons from “The Condor.” Keep an eye on No. 87 when the regular season kicks off for the Raiders. Las Vegas will battle their AFC West Rivals, the Denver Broncos, on September 10th.
*Top Photo: Michael Hickey/Getty Images