It's rare when local reporters get an opportunity this time of year to ask a relevant question to an opposing team's coach or player, which is exactly why I was determined to get Sean McVay and Todd Gurley's thoughts on Lamarcus Joyner and Josh Jacobs.
Joyner and Jacobs are two of the newest additions to the Raiders' roster; both are expected to be bright spots on their respective side of the ball, and each are linked in different ways to the Los Angeles Rams.
Up until this year, the veteran safety spent the entirety of his career with the Rams, playing in both St. Louis and Los Angeles for a combined five years. Joyner grew a lot during that time, and was a crucial component of the team, and put up some impressive numbers, totaling 42 starts, four interceptions, one touchdowns, 25 passes defensed, five sacks, and 305 tackles. Wednesday afternoon, Joyner was reunited with his former team for the first time, and his former coach and teammates had nothing but positive remarks for No. 29.
"He's a playmaker in the secondary," McVay said. "I think when you talk about, 'I see better than I hear.' Watching the way that Lamarcus Joyner competes every single snap is what you love about him. He's got a contagious enthusiasm and a juice with just the way he goes about his business. When you've got some of your top-tier players that you just say, 'This is what it looks like. Watch (No.) 29. Watch Lamarcus Joyner playing the nickel spot at a high level.' That can't help but become the new standard. I'm a big fan of Lamarcus. He was instrumental in a lot of the success we had over the last couple years and I wish him nothing but the best. They've got a good one here in him."
Quarterback Jared Goff added, "I said hi to him real quick. I have so much respect for him. Great teammate, great dude, great player and it was fun competing against him."
When asked about facing his former teammate, Gurley clearly still has affection for his 5-foot-8 former teammate, whom he called "short-ass" with a smile.
The Raiders are getting something special in Lamarcus Joyner, and his presence has already made a positive impact on his teammates. Last week, Gareon Conley and Johnathan Abram couldn't help but rave about his contagious energy, and how he's always the most upbeat person in the room. It's that kind of attitude that will help the locker room grind through the marathon of the season. When everyone is sore, and in need of a breather, Joyner will serve as a breath of fresh air to those around him, and if the members of the Rams' comments are any indication, he will be surely missed.
Even though Gurley didn't go as in-depth about Joyner as his peers, the All-Pro running back did elaborate more on Raiders first-round pick Josh Jacobs.
"He's a great running back, got a chance to watch him at 'Bama' (University of Alabama)," Gurley shared. "You know, first-round pick with a lot of talent, so looking forward to watching him ball out this year. Haven't really got a chance to talk to him too much, got a chance to talk to him just a little bit out here. He'll be fine, man, just keep doing what he's been doing, you know, that got him here. He's got a good team around him."
Jacobs shared with raiders.com a few days ago that he was eager to pick Gurley's brain about honing every aspect of his game, how he trains, and how he's grown as a runner since making it to the NFL stage.
Head Coach Jon Gruden also urged the rookie to just observe Gurley's every move during the team's joint practices Wednesday and Thursday.
"Watch him. Just watch him work," Gruden said Tuesday. "Watch him work, watch how he handles the blitz protections and the audibles. They do a lot at the line of scrimmage, in different tempos and he is a sharp guy. He's very sharp. He's not just a great runner and he's not just a stat machine, this guy does a lot of great things without the ball and I hope Josh gets a chance to witness it."
Like I said, opportunities to talk with opposing stars are few and far between, and it's clear that some of the Rams' key members believe the Raiders are in for a show with the additions of Joyner and Jacobs.
Watching Joyner interact with his former teammates during practice Wednesday was special, and it'll be fun to see how Jacobs continues to learn from Gurley. Hopefully he can implement some of that knowledge immediately and become his own version of the superstar — I know Gruden and Mike Mayock would love that.
The Raiders hit the field for the first joint practice with the Los Angeles Rams in Napa, Calif ahead of their preseason matchup on Saturday.