It appeared to be a solid day for the Raiders, but, as always, there were winners and losers during the session for Las Vegas. Let’s check it out.
Hunter Renfrow: it appears the Raiders’ shifty third-year slot receiver was the star of the day for both teams. He made some big plays and burned Rams’ superstar cornerback Jalen Ramsey a couple of times in the scrimmage. That’s a big deal. If Renfrow takes the next step in 2021, watch out NFL.
Defensive playmakers: The Raiders picked off Rams’ starting quarterback Matthew Stafford three times. Rookie safety Tre’von Moehrig, linebacker (and former Ram) Cory Littleton and backup cornerback Rasul Douglas all swiped passes from Stafford. That’s pretty encouraging for a team that had just 10 interceptions in 2020. This is telling: Stafford said the Raiders showed the Rams looks they haven’t seen this summer. That’s what new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is all about. He mixes things up. After one preseason game and one scrimmage, the unit looks more prepared and that’s a big deal.
Darren Waller: The Raiders’ star tight end blew up the Rams. Of course, that’s what he does. Every stinking day. He’s the reason why the Las Vegas offense can be special.
Team discipline: Tuesday, Raiders coach Jon Gruden said he didn’t want to see any fighting in the scrimmages because it’s not “competitive” and it was “stupidity.” Well, neither Gruden nor Rams coach Sean McVay were pleased what they saw Wednesday.
Sean McVay seemed frustrated with the “sloppy” feel of practice due to the starts and stops in action based on after-whistle extracurriculars. He and Gruden and some other coaches spoke about it for awhile after practice because both teams want to get some quality work in.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) August 18, 2021
Guard Richie Incognito, tight end Foster Moreau and cornerback Nevin Lawson were among the Raiders who were reportedly part of the skirmishes. These type of things are actually routine during joint practices around the NFL. The players were overly excited to see another team. I’d expect, after they got screamed at by their coaches, both teams will be more calm during Thursday’s session.
Marcus Mariota: He appeared to have a shaky day with some dropped interceptions. He has struggled with accuracy this camp and dealt with an injury. Mariota needs to finish the preseason strong so he and the Raiders have confidence in him as the regular season approaches.
Offensive line: I wouldn’t be too worried about it. If the Raiders’ offensive line stinks this season it’s not going to be because of what happened Wednesday. Rams’ defensive tackle Aaron Donald is one of the game’s all-time best. He always wrecks shop. So, actually, this work against Donald could end up being a great learning experience for this young group.
Conclusion: It seemed to be a good, encouraging day for the Raiders. There were expected ups-and-downs. But the Raiders probably had the better day of the two teams and expectations are high for the Rams in 2021. The best news of the day was there hasn’t been any reported Las Vegas injuries. That’s key. Now, onto Thursday.