Gruden praises Mariota's leadership, understanding of the system: 'He's learned it pretty fast'

Derek Carr is the Raiders' franchise quarterback, but the addition of fellow signal-caller Marcus Mariota this offseason is already paying dividends for Head Coach Jon Gruden's unit.

Coming out of the University of Oregon, then-NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock had Mariota as the No. 1 quarterback in the 2015 NFL Draft Class. Acquiring the former Tennessee Titan was a priority for Mayock and Gruden this offseason because of his versatility and the leadership he's able to provide.

Depth at the quarterback position hasn't been something the Raiders have possessed in recent memory, but in the event Carr suffers an injury, the team can now rely on Mariota to get the job done at a high level.

The biggest thing Mariota needed to do this offseason — aside from learning Gruden's complex playbook — was get healthy, which is something he's done a great job of so far. Coming off a shoulder and ankle injury, Mariota appears to be at full strength according to his new head coach.

"I've been impressed," Gruden said during his media availability Thursday. "The number one thing with Marcus was to get healthy. He had a shoulder problem, an ankle problem, so it's a real credit to him to get his injury rehab done during all of this social distancing. The distraction of finding a doctor, being safe, and he did a great job of getting himself healthy and learning the system."

While most quarterbacks might view the addition of another veteran in the locker room as a threat, the relationship between Carr and Mariota has been nothing but professional. According to Gruden, the two have been communicating often regarding the offense, and Carr's assistance has helped advance Mariota's understanding of the system.

"It's been impressive," Gruden said when asked about Mariota's knowledge thus far. "Being in the room, chat sessions with Derek Carr every day has really helped him. Derek is very advanced and very quick mentally, and Marcus is as well. So, he's learning pretty fast and he's applied it pretty fast with our rookies on the field during walk through."

There are several new faces on the Raiders roster and unfortunately, the team hasn't been able to build a lot of chemistry this offseason because of COVID-19; however, Mariota is quickly bonding with some of the rookies during the early stages of training camp.

"[Marcus] is a great guy, a great team guy, a great leader, and like you said, things are coming along pretty well," Henry Ruggs III told reporters Thursday. "With us rookies, we're still learning too, so he's very helpful in that aspect as far as leading us and helping us pick up things faster."

After Mariota signed with the Raiders in March, he made it clear he's willing to do whatever the team asks of him, and right now that's help bring the rookies up to speed. His tenure with the Raiders is just beginning, but the former Heisman Trophy winner is already living up to his reputation as a leader.

The Las Vegas Raiders hit the field for another day of workouts and a walk through at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center in Henderson, Nev.

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