The Las Vegas Raiders have moved into Phase 3 of their offseason program, with Organized Team Activities (OTAs) getting underway earlier this week.
OTAs, a four-week period consisting on 10 practices, make up the third and final phase of the offseason program before Training Camp begins. The Raiders have three sessions under their belts already, with seven more scheduled for May 31-June 2 and June 12-15. During these practices, live contact is not permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills are allowed. Along with OTAs, the Silver and Black are set to hold a mandatory minicamp from June 6-8.
Before practice Thursday morning, Head Coach Josh McDaniels addressed the media for the first time since before the 2023 NFL Draft. Here are a few noteworthy pieces to take away from his OTA media availability.
No need to rush
While it's nice to have all your players on the field in the spring, there's still a little over three months remaining until the beginning of the regular season.
McDaniels noted several players not expected to practice during this OTA period, including quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and first-rounder Tyree Wilson. Despite them still recovering from previous injuries, McDaniels and the training staff remain optimistic through the process. The head coach believes it's not in the team's best interest to rush players back until they're 100 percent ready to go.
"Some of them may be ready before the spring is over, some of them may not. We're always going to air at this time of the year in being smart," McDaniels said. "To try and rush them out there and get them out there in May, that's a subpar decision.
"All of these guys are doing a great job with what they can do in terms of the rehab. They're in all the meetings, doing all the football things they can do that aren't jeopardizing anybody's ability to be ready to go here for the season. They're doing all of those things and the guys who aren't out there, as soon as they're ready they'll be there."
Rookies getting their feet wet
McDaniels is also eager about the rookie class in totality, ranging from their nine draft selections to the recent UDFA signings.
He praised Dave Ziegler, Champ Kelly and the scouting staff for their work in "trying to really vet and research all these kids that we had an opportunity to select." He also mentioned some positive things about third-round pick out of Cincinnati Tre Tucker, who McDaniels believes could find an early role due to his versatility and speed. While the staff has only seen a small sample size of the newest additions on the field in rookie minicamp, things seem to be trending upward for the unit.
"They have a great attitude. They're working together on trying to gain on the stuff that they don't know that the veterans already do, and they're taking full advantage of their opportunities," said McDaniels. "I'm really excited about the intangibles and the leadership, the intelligence, the maturity, along with the skill that we were able to bring in and excited to see where it goes."
There have been several league-wide rule changes and modifications recently approved. This includes the NFL being able to flex Thursday Night Football games, instituting a third quarterback not counting against the active roster on gamedays and placing the ball on the 25-yard line following a fair-catch kickoff, like in collegiate football.
All of these changes could directly affect the Raiders, one of note being their scheduled Thursday night affair with the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15. Nevertheless, McDaniels' mentality is to survive and adapt for what's to come.
"I'm for whatever makes the game safer," he said. "So, if that's a play where more injuries are occurring, more head injuries are occurring, more head impact is occurring, I have no right to stand up here and say, 'We need to be doing more of it,' if that's what we're trying to avoid, because obviously, player safety and health comes first."
View the best photos from the first week of the Las Vegas Raiders' OTAs at Intermountain Health Performance Center.