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Continuity and competition at the top of offseason priority list for Antonio Pierce

Play-calling and strategy aren't necessarily the top priority for a NFL team in early June, which Antonio Pierce recognizes.

The team wrapped its mandatory minicamp on Thursday, where the main focus has been building a foundation and a bond. Considering Pierce's experience as a Super Bowl champion, he's confident the camaraderie they're building will translate onto the field.

"I asked the coaches to put X's and O's to the side a little bit as we start up in Phase 1 and 2 and get to know one another," Pierce said. "Coaches on coaches, coaches to players, and players to players. Wanted to really build that chemistry, that continuity, that trust, that accountability, that communication we've talked about all offseason."

"We're in the people stage because we don't have pads on, we're out there playing 7-on-7 [but] the standard never changes," he added. "It's to come in this building everyday with a smile, with a purpose. To be the best version of yourself and to build a team."

Along with building a rapport in the locker room, another theme of the offseason was to compete.

From the start of getting back our on the field in May with offseason workouts, there's been no shortage of competition anywhere on the roster. The Silver and Black have a few deep position groups including wide receiver and defensive line with players battling for reps each and every day. Pierce spoke high of the development within the receiving corps, especially noting Jakobi Meyers and 2023 third-rounder Tre Tucker.

However, the most significant battle has come within the quarterback room between Aidan O'Connell and Gardner Minshew II. Their "friendly competition" has elevated the intensity for the rest of roster.

"Some people see competition at the quarterback position as like, 'Oh my God, we're scared.' No, I love it. Because the rest of our team, we're looking at them," Pierce said. "So what does everybody else on our team have to do? They have to compete. ... We're not going to be able to keep all of them. Seeing the competition at quarterback has risen the level of competition overall on our team."

Thursday was set to be the last practice of mandatory minicamp, however Pierce chose to cancel the final day as he was pleased with the productivity and high attendance of the roster not only throughout the first two days of minicamp but all of the offseason program. The next time the team will collectively step on a football field will be in late July for Training Camp.

While Pierce told his team to decompress and get their minds off football in these upcoming weeks, there's one thing he will not tolerate.

"We're not going backwards," he emphatically stated. "It is on you to come here and the physical shape is on you, to be ready mentally and emotionally. ... We're going with the guys that put in the time and commitment to do what we want to do over the next six months. And that's just to do one thing and one thing only and that is win, and I want winners.

"Winners never stop working. You can decompress but I didn't say you can stop working. So, we've got to find a way of that, and I just told them when they come back, kick in the front door and let's get this bad boy rolling."

The Raiders hit the practice field for day two of mandatory minicamp at Intermountain Health Performance Center.

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