The Oakland Raiders kicked off the first day of Organized Team Activities (OTAs) Tuesday, and as always, Head Coach Jon Gruden was energized. The Raiders Head Coach was vocal from the start, coaching up the young crop of players, including many of the veterans. Each day we inch closer and closer to the start of Training Camp, and while we're still a ways away from heading to Napa, Gruden is interested in seeing where the players are mentally.
Following practice Tuesday, Gruden met with members of the media to recap the day's work.
Gruden praised rookie offensive tackles Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker.
"We like what we see. We like it a lot. Number one, we changed plays, I think, 30 times today. We went with a no-huddle offense, I think 16 times today. We ran numerous gap blocking plays, zone blocking plays, different protections, so the mental part of it is what's most exciting. We already know we like them physically. Both of these guys can handle a lot of system football and process information quickly. That was really impressive today."
He expressed how proud he is of all the Raiders players who recently graduated college.
"Well, we've been celebrating that internally for the last couple of weeks. Jylan Ware and Amari Cooper, Bruce Irvin, Gabe Jackson. We talk about finishing, that's a big word here in football with the Raiders. Finish the game. Finish the drive. Finish the play. And finish your education is more important than all of that. For Bruce Irvin to go back and get his degree at West Virginia is outstanding. An unbelievable accomplishment. I hope a lot of young people out there can research Bruce Irvin, see where he's come from and his life to get that piece of paper. It's exciting. We're really proud of them."
Gruden is happy to see former first-round pick Gareon Conley working with some of the veteran cornerbacks on the field.
"Yeah, it's great to see Conley out there. We're counting on him. We need him. But to see Rashaan Melvin and Conley and [Daryl] Worley competing is really exciting. Conley is special. He's a top pick in this draft for a reason. I think from a confidence standpoint, he needs to get some work in out here."
He stated the team needs wide receiver Amari Cooper to be at full health.
"He has to stay healthy. He has a little twinge in his hamstring right now. He has to stay healthy, number one. Derek Carr needs to stay healthy. We have to pass protect as a whole better. We have to do a lot of things better for him to be better, but number one I think it's health."
Gruden provided a brief update on rookie cornerback Nick Nelson.
"I think he's on his way. We expect to have him ready for training camp. We'll give you updates as we move on."