Alex Leatherwood looks a bit different than he did this time last year.
The offensive lineman is still as big and intimidating as ever, but there's some small improvements here and there you can notice. For starters, the second-year player looks like he's "leaned up," according to his teammate Kolton Miller. Leatherwood acknowledged that he did spend some time this offseason in the weight room in preparation for the 2022 slate.
"Just being a strong player [you must] have a good core, good balance and body control in pass protection and in the run game. So, of course, naturally this offseason I hit the weight room hard because you can never be too strong. Cleaned up my diet a little bit," Leatherwood said Wednesday afternoon after day two of minicamp practice.
Secondly, you can see more confidence from Leatherwood on the field. While still in the process of learning the new offense, this is no longer his first rodeo. Last season, Leatherwood was thrust into the starting right tackle role as soon as he was drafted with the Raiders' first-round pick. The young man who once was trying to get a feel of the NFL, now knows he belongs.
"I feel like halfway to three quarters through, that's when everything started to slow down," Leatherwood said of his rookie season. "I started to understand what I really needed to do as an O-lineman, and to be a good O-lineman in this league. From that point forward, I felt that was when I began to grow."
Head Coach Josh McDaniels has had Leatherwood all over the offensive line in the parts of OTAs and minicamp that have been open to the media. McDaniels has preached the importance of having versatility on the offensive line, and plans to put Leatherwood wherever he sees fit.
"Ultimately, we're going to try to figure out who the best five are that can give us the best chance of success every play. And he's certainly working his butt off right now to try to give us the right stuff wherever we put him," McDaniels previously said of Leatherwood. "I like his attitude. I like what he's doing."
Leatherwood made it clear that being set at one specific position is not something he worries about. He prides himself on "having that value to play anywhere on the line." The same value that helped him start all 17 games his rookie season. His biggest priority now is continuing to develop as a football player, no matter where in the trenches he's ultimately placed.
"This spring has been awesome," he said. "I feel like we're being where our feet are, not having any expectations. Really trying to focus on being better today. And the next day, getting better that day."
View the best photos from the Silver and Black's second day of minicamp.