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Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson excited about young offensive linemen

News and notes from Olson’s presser

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Las Vegas Raiders
John Simpson
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Las Vegas Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson met with the media Thursday for the first time during training camp and there were some interesting moments.

He is clearly big on the team’s young offensive linemen and mentioned that special teams coach Rich Bisaccia is helping coach the running backs.

Here are some highlights:

On COVID-19 issues and the coaching change at running back:

Olson: “I think the COVID is obviously still very real and kind of hit us in the face here yesterday. So, you never want to have players miss, but that’s the not the world we live in right now with COVID and it’s unfortunate for those guys to have contacted it or to be in close proximity that they have to miss time because of that. Again, we’ve dealt with it a year ago and we’ll deal with whatever comes to us this year. It’s hard losing obviously Kirby Wilson when we did but we feel very, very fortunate we have coaches on staff in Tim Berbenich and Rich Bisaccia, our two veteran coaches that have been with Jon [Gruden] a long time, so we feel like we got the position covered.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders Training Camp
Alex Leatherwood
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

On the intelligence of first-round pick, right tackle Alex Leatherwood:

Olson: “The volume and what we ask our players to do really in a two-day period what we’ve asked them in terms of the installation. We probably installed over 400 plays in two days and very limited mental reps. We had him in the rookie camp for three days and very few, if any, mental errors. So, that’s the biggest reason. And he had very few mental errors during the OTAs and June camps. You just have a conversation with him about football and you realize that this guy is an intelligent football player, and he’s an intelligent person, but a very intelligent football player.”

On second-year guard John Simpson, who is trying to win a starting job

Olson: “I know, and Coach mentioned it yesterday, it’s hard to evaluate obviously the offensive line and really any position when you haven’t done anything in pads yet. But like I said, John Simpson ended up being our strongest player coming out of the offseason program. So, tremendous strength and for him improvement in the weight room over the last six months has been phenomenal. So, if his work ethic has anything to do with how he’s going to take the next step this year, if that has anything to say about it, he’ll be a much better player. But he again, he gained more weight, he gained more strength and yet he didn’t lose his flexibility or the athleticism that we saw when we drafted him, so we’re excited about him.”

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Nick Martin
Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

On if veteran center Nick Martin can play guard as well:

Olson: “Yeah, as you guys know Tom [Cable] likes to move those guys around, so Nick will see time at guard as well. Patrick Omameh is another veteran player. We’ve got, again, great competition really at every position and the offensive line although we lost, or people look at and say we lost some players there, but we feel like we got great competition and we’ve got veteran players like a Nick Martin or a Patrick Omameh that have played before. So, we feel good, even bringing Sam Young back in here who played some games for us. We’ve got great competition.”