The Raiders are now in the midst of Week 2 of voluntary OTAs.
Strategy and relationships are being built at the Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center in Henderson under a 100-degree sun. The desert heat has brought out the best in the young Raiders at OTAs, among them team staples Darren Waller, Trayvon Mullen, Hunter Renfrow and Henry Ruggs III. All four players have something to prove in 2021, as they will be vital pieces in getting the Raiders over the hump and into the playoffs for the first time in five years.
Here were a few key quotes from that quartet after their fifth day of OTAs this offseason.
Darren Waller on staying mentally sharp during the offseason:
"Just staying on top of my routine, meditating, praying, writing in my journals still, going to meetings still. Just doing what I've been doing, keeping me built up because without those things, my career doesn't sustain. I have to continue to dance with what brought me here, and that's taking care of me internally, mentally, spiritually, emotionally — and then you get the best version of me on the football field when I'm taking care of those things."
Waller on how beneficial it is to return to in-person OTAs:
"It's always very important to just be together as a team, just be around each other. To get to know each other, laugh, joke, work hard, sweat with each other. It's a very valuable experience. This time — this April to June — is where you lay the foundation for those long runs that go into February. This time is so valuable, especially for those young players. I'm glad that the rookies don't have to be at home on laptops in rooms by themselves, trying to learn playbooks with great volume. They can be here, be around coaches and really feed off of the environment. I feel like that's much more suited for learning and learning fast, so I'm glad that everybody's here and I'm glad that everybody's invested and excited about what the season can be for us. I feel like we're off to a great start."
Trayvon Mullen on taking rookie cornerback Nate Hobbs under his wing:
"I feel like he's going to be really talented. He practices hard, he goes through his drills really well. I like the way he approaches practice. I feel like he's going to be a real good player for us as long as he just keeps his mentality up and keeps going hard every day."
Mullen's approach going into his third season:
"I feel like I'm better than ever. I trained hard this offseason. I'm still going hard, learning this new system, helping the young guys. Being around the young guys is helping me get even better [by] being accountable of a lot of things. Trying to be that leader for the younger guys, so I can be good for myself and as a team, for my teammates, but I feel like I'm better than ever. I'm prepared. I'm ready. I practice hard on my fundamentals and just the way I approach each day."
Hunter Renfrow on the additions of John Brown and Willie Snead IV to the receiving corps:
"We're excited to have both of them. Willie and John are two great guys, first off. I've been lucky since I've been here, for the most part, to have a really good receiver room. But Willie and John have been two veteran guys with the departure of Nelly [Nelson Agholor]. Obviously, they've brought in some veteran presence; they've been on successful teams; they've been really good players for a long time."
Renfrow on what he wants to improve on going into his third season:
"Off the top of my mind, I think I can attack the football better. Sometimes I get it and get it into the body and get passive. And then also, I do a lot of underneath stuff, so getting a plan. Getting a good plan. Watching a lot of guys on how they attack, so that you get late in the season you're not doing the same stuff."
Henry Ruggs on his offseason training and diet:
"That's been one of my main points of emphasis. Just constantly trying to eat all the time and going hard in the weight room, and it's been paying off."
Ruggs on taking on a bigger role in the Raiders offense:
"Of course I'm ready to assume a bigger role. Last year, for me to describe it, it was a start. That's pretty much the best way I can describe it. Something to build on; it was a starting point, and we're going to build from there. And of course, like I said, I'm ready to take on a bigger role and help my team in a bigger way."
Take an exclusive look inside Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center as the Silver and Black take part in an OTA practice.