The Las Vegas Raiders are now in the full swing of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), close to wrapping up their second week of practices. While still early in the grand scheme of things, the offseason field rust is starting to come off a bit more, with players getting locked in.
Here's a recap of notes, takeaways and quotes from practice which included a few special guests in attendance.
A few heavy hitters among the Raiders alumni stopped by Intermountain Health Performance Center. Among the alumni in attendance were Pro Football Hall of Famers Charles Woodson, Art Shell, Dave Casper, Mike Haynes, James Lofton and Ted Hendricks.
"At practice today, you're going to see a number of Raider greats that were able to join us today to share in our OTA experience here," Head Coach Josh McDaniels said in his opening remarks Thursday morning. "[They'll] share with our players what it meant to them to be a Raider, and they've kind of set the standard and defined what the 'Commitment to Excellence' is."
The all-time greats took time to lend some advice to the new generation of Silver and Black standouts, including Greg Townsend, the Raiders' all-time leader in sacks, getting into the mix with the defensive line.
"I got over there with the D-line and started giving out some pointers," said Townsend. "They started asking me questions. ... Just trying to get them to understand, to translate what they do on the individual [drills] like on the bags, that when they come on the field, make that translate on the field. Getting that perfect habit because it's one of the biggest things for us."
Go Knights, Go!
Several players and coaches around the building were sporting Golden Knights hats, as the local team is about to make their second Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Sports in Las Vegas are booming with the defending champion Las Vegas Aces starting their season 4-0 and the Knights looking to earn their first championship. Both Coach McDaniels and defensive coordinator Patrick Graham are excited to see the energy around the city.
"Obviously, it's an exciting time in Las Vegas, from our organization to the Golden Knights, we want to congratulate them on making the Stanley Cup Finals," said McDaniels. "We wish Coach Cassidy and the entire organization, the entire team well and luck, obviously as they head into this championship round. There's going to be a number of our players that will be there supporting them, and we're all excited to continue to pull for them. Obviously they've had a great year and we're looking forward to continuing to support that."
"Two of my favorite things outside of football and my family ... is playoff basketball and playoff hockey," said Graham. "Luckily since I've been here, I've been able to go to some of the playoff games for the Aces, I've been able to go to some of the playoff games for the Knights, and the fact that it's the hometown, I mean, it's been great. It's inspirational."
Special Teams Bonding
Jacob Bobenmoyer signed with the Raiders this offseason, following the release of Trent Sieg. Bobenmoyer comes to Las Vegas with a prior relationship with special teams coordinator Tom McMahon from their time together at the Denver Broncos. The new trio has been seen working together on the field, while also learning each other's traits and personalities off of it to create cohesion.
"There's a lot of reps we got to get in, time to catch up, but that what this time of year is for," AJ Cole said of getting acquainted with Bobenmoyer. "The quarterbacks, receivers, the O-line, D-line, everybody is going through the same thing right now. So this time of the year is sort of a race to get better between now and September. ... It's how many reps we can get together and how much trust we can have in each other by the time we hit that first field when it counts."
"We spend a lot of time together," continued Cole. "We eat breakfast together, we eat lunch together, so I'm just getting to know him. Getting to learn about who he is, where he's from, all those type of things. And I think that's real important. I'm a big believer in camaraderie [and] vibes, and I think that translates to on the field production."
No sophomore slump in sight
While it's still early in the process, it's always fun to see progress made from second year players.
Throughout the practice, it seemed that last year's rookies were more comfortable taking reps. Of those players Sam Webb, Thayer Munford Jr., Dylan Parham and Zamir White really stood out. Webb, the undrafted cornerback from Missouri Western, looked sticky in coverage with a few pass deflections. As for Munford and Parham, they saw a good amount of snaps Thursday and looked formidable in pass protection. White appears to have slimmed down this offseason, with an increase in speed and quickness from this time last season.
"I think you got to be patient, then at some point it's going to turn up and you got to go," Graham said of players' sophomore campaigns. "But you've got to be patient with those guys and I think they're working through it. You've just got to clearly define to them what's right, what's wrong, then develop a plan for them to improve and then make sure we're doing the best to get that done."
A couple of new sets of hands
Both appear to be making their presence felt within the offense, while Carter is also looking like a potentially great asset in special teams with his speed. Sims signed with the Silver and Black after spending his first five seasons with the Washington Commanders, with 18 starts to his name there. His sure-fire hands have been a highlight of OTAs, notable with his catch percentage of 62 for his career.
Carter enjoyed the best season of his career in 2022 with 538 receiving yards, 46 catches and three touchdowns as a Charger. He also contributed over 800 yards in kick and punt return yardage.
The Las Vegas Raiders hosted a Raiders Prospect Camp at Bonanza High School so that middle school athletes may meet and work with their potential future high school coaches and teammates.