When in doubt, rely on your training.
That's been the mindset of rookie offensive linemen Dylan Parham and Thayer Munford Jr.. The third and seventh-round picks have been in the mix in the Raiders offense through the first three games, to the surprise of many except themselves and their coaches.
Head Coach Josh McDaniels has done his best to put all of his offensive linemen in different spots across the line since the start of Training Camp to understand their versatility. Parham has seen practice reps at the two guard positions and center behind Andre James. After not allowing a single pressure against the Los Angeles Chargers Week 1 at right guard, the rookie started the next two games at center in place of James – who suffered a concussion in the last offensive drive of the season opener.
"Each and every day, I come in with the mindset of being able to learn those different positions," Parham said on Upon Further Review with Eddie Paskal. "At the beginning of each week, I just go in with the mindset that I can play any of those positions when it comes down to it on Sunday.
"I'll have the mindset of left guard, I'll be going through each and every play. And then, if for center, I'll have each call ready so if I have to be vocal out there during that week, I'm ready for that. And then at right guard, I just happen to flip everything from the left to the right and just make sure I go through it many times and repeat it in my head."
As for Munford Jr., he impressed with his preseason play, earning playing time in the first two regular season games. Midway through Week 3, he was notified by offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo that he'd be starting at right tackle in Nashville, Tennessee. He played 100 percent of the offensive snaps, and received the best overall PFF grade for all Raiders offensive linemen against the Titans.
The rookie out of Ohio State said he was nowhere close to "nervous" or "terrified" preparing for his first NFL start, considering he has a certain All-Pro edge rusher to challenge him on a daily basis.
"I'm going up against one of the best everyday in practice – Maxx Crosby," the rookie said. "Even though he gets me a couple of times, I get him a couple of times. It makes each other better and we have that relationship of, 'Alright, we're going hard every play.'"
Through three weeks, McDaniels has been pleased to see the two rookies step up when needed, and believes they will continue to develop together within the offense smoothly.
"We certainly liked both players when we drafted them, and I don't think they've let us down at all," the head coach said. "They work hard, they're prepared. They practice hard. ... They've earned the opportunity to go out there and keep playing because of what they keep doing in practice. I feel like both of them represented themselves well."
"It was a good start for both of them to be in there together and then play the entirety of the game," McDaniels added. "And like I said, I think they gave us an opportunity to win."
Additionally, Munford alluded that he and Parham's budding friendship has translated to gamedays. According to the right tackle, they both arrived to Las Vegas with a mission and purpose to excel – something they're growing toward every day with the effort they bring to the field.
"Our first day, us coming in together we were like, 'Man, we in the NFL now!' And since we've gotten more connected with each other and talk more about how things are going, just having that brother right next to you, that means a lot," Munford said. "Just for us coming from two different schools – he's coming from Memphis, I'm coming from Ohio State – and to see how we can connect on that part, he's a great guy to be around outside of football as well."
To commemorate 1 October, the Las Vegas Raiders hosted 300 first responders at Allegiant Stadium for games and food as a thank for you for their hard work.