2018 draft classmates Kolton Miller and Brandon Parker are going into this season as the longest-tenured Raiders offensive linemen. With that comes a lot of responsibility for setting the precedent for the rest of the unit.
Through the ups and downs of their collective journeys, the two tackles have seemingly found their footing in the trenches. They have developed chemistry with Derek Carr through the years and are now tasked with getting on the same page in a new offense.
Miller and Parker said they've both shied away from any outside noise or expectations this year – Parker going as far as deleting his social media. Their sole purpose is to get themselves and their teammates better throughout Training Camp.
"There's a lot of distractions outside the building, but we really want to keep as together as we can," Miller told the media Tuesday. "Keep all the noise in here. We like to set our own expectations and try to exceed that. Really it starts internally, at least for me. ... I feel as a group, we set our own expectations and we strive to achieve them each day."
Parker, like Miller, was put into a starting role on the offensive line as a rookie. Last season, he saw the most action in his career starting at right tackle after first-round pick Alex Leatherwood moved to guard. Parker said there's "an outright competition" for that right tackle spot throughout camp, and believes that playing more disciplined football will set himself apart in the room.
"It's been a gradual progression over the years," said Parker. "I took a lot of lumps my rookie year. Second year, I didn't play a lot, played when I was needed. Third year, it was kind of the same thing. Just learning behind the guys who were ahead of me. Then when it was my turn, just using what they taught me and being the best that I can for my team.
"I'm literally competing every rep I get."
Miller and Parker will be asked to step up even more as leaders of the line with the recent retirements of Richie Incognito and Denzelle Good. Both Incognito and Good were steady forces alongside Miller and Parker, but had significant injuries hamper them in 2021. Heading into the first practice in pads Wednesday, the fifth-year vets' focus is to continue creating cohesion within the offensive line and be ready to compete with great intensity.
"I try to keep us going during those dog days of camp. We feel the 100-plus heat – we all do," said Parker. "I try to keep us positive. A lot of the guys look up to me, so I try to always be – somebody's got to be the uplifting guy so I try to be that. Even when I'm not having my best day. I might take an 'L' here or there, but I try to always throw it behind me. ... Just trying to be that leader we need in our room."
Those hard, hot days have only made the group – which feels like a brotherhood, according to Miller – even closer.
"I feel like we really click together," Miller said. "I feel like we really push off each other [well]. It's a very competitive room, but there's still love for each other. We want each other to get better. Really, that's the best room you want to have – guys that care for each other but will compete their ass off every day."
Head inside Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center for exclusive photos of the Silver and Black's 2022 Training Camp practice.