Training Camp Notebook: Kolton Miller talks confidence, growth headed into Year Two

Kolton Miller might not have a thundering voice. 

He might not yell and scream, but a boisterous personality and a little “nastiness” – seemingly everyone’s favorite adjective for offensive lineman these days – doesn’t make someone a good left tackle.

“Again, there is a certain amount of violence or nastiness just to play the game of football,” said offensive coordinator Greg Olson following the Oakland Raiders Sunday practice. “It’s not for everybody, and we say that. He [Miller] comes across as a polite guy, and that shouldn’t be held against the guy. His parents raised a terrific young man, but I think every position, at every position, it’s a physical game. Certainly, offensive linemen, when you’re hitting someone across from you on every play, you have to have a mindset of toughness when you strap on the helmet. He’s a tough football player, and again, guys show it different ways, but don’t assume because he’s a quiet guy that he’s not a tough football player.”

That toughness certainly manifested itself in a big way for Miller last season.

Not only did he play in all 16 games as a rookie – an impressive feat in and of itself – but he played through numerous ailments along the way, gutting through much of the year at less than 100 percent.

Now though, in the early stages of his second season as a Raider, Miller is healthy, motivated, and a stronger player than he was last year when he was just a few months removed from lining up at left tackle for the UCLA Bruins.

“Me compared to last year around this time is completely different,” Miller explained. “In the offseason you’re not practicing your 40s or your shuttles, you’re just working out, and this year I just feel way better, way more confident. I feel really good.”

“His confidence, his experience that breeds confidence, and that first year, we were happy with how he played as a rookie, because we know the experience factor is huge for all our rookie class,” added Olson. “He’s played 16 games now as a professional football player, and again, every year the standards change based on that experience, so we’re excited where he’s at, and we’re excited where he’s going.”

As mentioned earlier, Miller isn’t a “ra-ra” type of lineman, but regardless of his temperament, the Raiders have big expectations for the man now wearing No. 74.

“Am I supposed to answer that?” Miller deadpanned when asked Sunday if he was too nice. “I think guys just have to focus on perfecting their craft every day, and you get a whole lot of personalities out here, and I think the important thing is coming together as a team and getting better every day.”

With the additions of two new pieces along the offensive line – Trent Brown at right tackle and Richie Incognito at left guard – Miller’s perception is different in 2019.

He’s no longer a rookie trying to battle his way through his first pro season; he’s an experienced tackle who has gone through the gauntlet of AFC West edge rushers and will now be looked at to lock down Derek Carr’s blindside.

And while his temperament might remain unchanged, Miller is not the same player he was a year ago – not even close.

“I think I’ve gotten a lot stronger, experienced,” he said. “Again, I think the number one thing is just being able to play and learn from your mistakes.”

Check out the kicks the Raiders players are rocking into Napa, Calif. as they report for 2019 Training Camp.

Notable:

-The Raiders waived Chris Warren III Sunday morning, clearing a roster spot for James Butler. The undrafted running back spent some of his rookie season on the team’s practice squad, and he now finds himself back in the mix, wearing No. 36.

-Antonio Brown passed his physical, thus returning to the active roster Sunday. While Brown is no longer on the NFI list, Mr. Big Chest has yet to go through a full practice. He was present for the early portions of Sunday’s work, but ultimately didn’t take the field.

-This really isn’t any hard-hitting type news, but, man, Daryl Worley easily has the coolest visor on the Raiders roster.

-Back to football now; Dwayne Harris had a nice one-on-one period on Sunday, hauling in a few really impressive catches during the competition period. We know Harris as mostly a return man, but don’t sleep on his skills as receiver either.

-Speaking of wide receivers, have yourself a day J.J. Nelson. The speedy wide out had the wheels on display throughout Sunday’s session, making a few highlight plays, including an acrobatic leap across the middle of the field to come down with a pass. Since his signing, we’ve heard how fast Nelson is, but today was the first time we really saw it manifest itself in a big way.

-Defensively speaking, a pair of young defensive backs left their imprint on Sunday’s practice, as both Nick Nelson and Jonathan Abram came down with interceptions during the one-on-one and 11-on-11 periods respectively.

-Another thing I noticed yesterday was how much more vocal Marquel Lee seems to be compared to a year ago. Now in his third year, Lee seems more confident than ever, and he’s a dude I’m excited to watch during the preseason.

-Derek Carrier also had a few nice catches during one-on-ones. The versatile tight end might not catch a ton of passes, but he showed off a little finesse Sunday afternoon, successfully utilizing a nasty head fake to gain a little separation from the DB covering him.

-Let’s not forget about the specialists either – Daniel Carlson was a perfect five for five during his field goal period. Keep that momentum from 2018 rolling, my dude.

-Through two days of camp, Doug Martin has looked solid as well. The veteran running back is running with pace and energy, so keep an eye on him once the pads come on tomorrow.

Quotable:

Offensive coordinator Greg Olson discussing the reasoning for the Raiders waiving Chris Warren III:

“We just wanted to bring James Butler in. There are certain standards I think that we have here, and we expect a certain level of professionalism with our players coming in, and fitness-wise the expectations that we had, and he didn’t meet our fitness expectations. We decided to make a change.”

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Up Next:

The first day of padded practice is Monday.

Buckle up.

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