Adjusting to the terminology and speed of the NFL level requires time, but time isn't a luxury the Las Vegas Raiders' rookie class has.
Under normal circumstances, the 2020 Draft Class would've been immersed in the playbook and built some form of chemistry with their new teammates by now, considering they would've participated in Rookie Minicamp, OTAs (Organized Team Activities), and Mandatory Minicamp; however, COVID-19 prevented that from happening.
With training camp about to begin, the rookies face an uphill battle before the start of the regular season, but they're excited to join their teammates for the first time in person.
"It's going to be a great feeling because the defense, man — I haven't really been with the offense — we've been having a lot of Zoom meetings bonding, getting to know people from a distance," rookie cornerback Amik Robertson said when asked about meeting his teammates for the first time. "As of us coming into the facility as one, I know it's going to be a great feeling because in order to build great teams you need to build that chemistry with your teammates."
The best way to build chemistry and communication is to get to work on the field, but right now no one knows what that will look like. With the limitations of social distancing, it'll be interesting to see how practices unfold, but don't expect first-round pick, Damon Arnette, to approach the game any differently.
"I expect it to be hard, I expect it to be dirty," Arnette said. "That's camp and that's football. I wouldn't necessarily say because of this pandemic I'm going to come out harder, I plan on bringing the same level of intensity as if we started on time, or if we had OTAs or Minicamp."
"I have no idea [what to expect]," linebacker Tanner Muse added. "I'm excited just to get started, I've tried to use my background of what I've been through at Clemson and just training camp. Coach Swinney always tried to make it as hard as possible and grind guys to really get the diamond out of the rough. I'm sure it's going to be very similar and giving guys all the knowledge they can because we missed so much in OTAs and Rookie Minicamp. So, just try to soak up as much knowledge as you can."
Fortunately, the majority of the Raiders' rookie class come from Division-I collegiate programs and have exposure to facing top-flight talent, but fully understanding an NFL playbook is another beast.
As they prepare to embark on their first NFL training camp, Robertson, Arnette, Muse, and their fellow rookies will have to act fast as they try to get up to speed with limited reps.
View exclusive photos of the Raiders rookies and select veteran players as they arrive at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center for 2020 Training Camp.