Head Coach Jack Del Rio
The Oakland Raiders are just over 48 hours away from their first game of the preseason, and the evaluation process will be kicked up a notch Saturday night. Thursday afternoon, the team took the field once again in preparation for their weekend bout with the Arizona Cardinals. Following practice, Head Coach Jack Del Rio met with the media to wrap up the week before the team departs on Friday.
Here are the quick hits from his time at the podium:
**Del Rio was fired up about the team's first preseason matchup this Saturday.
"Gotta love it, we're through the first days of camp, getting the preseason games started Saturday night. Looking forward to traveling down to Arizona, playing a good football team at their place. Well-coached, a lot of good players, so it will be good for us to see where we are after a couple weeks at camp. Looking forward to it."
He made it abundantly clear that just because the team won 12 games last year, doesn't mean they're content, or feel like they can take it easy.
"I think having an understanding of your guys and what you know they're about, where they are with conditioning levels, where they are with any injuries they may be battling, what your depth is, what battles you need to see, what competitions you need to clean up. I think that's all part of it. Honestly, we don't sit there and say, 'We won enough games, we can just not rep our guys this year.' That's really not part of the thinking at all."
Del Rio shared that it doesn't matter how you got to his point, it's all about how you can contribute going forward.
"We really make it an effort to take our guys and however they arrive, we let them compete. So, over the last two years, the previous two years, you saw examples of guys taking that opportunity and running with it: Darius Latham makes our team, Jalen Richard makes our team. These guys are playing, having an impact for us. So, how you get here doesn't matter. To me, that's where it starts."
He talked about the progression he's seen from second-year running back Jalen Richard.
"Well, more confidence. I think he knows he can play in this league. He knows he's capable of helping our football team. So, I think he's more of a confident, young man this time around. Not that he was lacking last year. I think he's always felt very confident about his ability. But, certainly doing it, earning it, having been through a year that he's picked up a little experience, he's got a little bit of knowledge of what it takes to play in this league."
Through the first few weeks of camp, Del Rio discussed how linebacker Cory James is coming along.
"He's just working. Every day he's working, developing. For Cory, the biggest thing is to get his base under him. Get his footwork to where it's really efficient. He's extremely athletic, very gifted. Can run, can really run and change direction. Just to play with a really good base is so important when you're an inside linebacker and the block arrives that you have a base to be able to strike and get off and go make plays. He's making progress."