Mistakes turn into laps in Henderson this summer.
A practice normally reserved for youth and prep football signifies the “new regime, new era” feel of Las Vegas Raiders training camp. Not even franchise-type players are immune to a jog, as evidenced by quarterback Derek Carr taking a stroll with rookie Dylan Parham after a botched snap exchange.
It’s all about accountability, a word that should be emblazoned on the walls of Raiders HQ in Henderson. The Big A along with “small things lead to big things” should be etched all over the facilities. Because the attention to detail is something that’s been drilled into both head coach Josh McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler from their previous employer.
For as hard as they want to escape it and being something new, that New England Patriots mantra is ever-present in the desert. And good on them for giving it a Silver & Black twist. The Raiders are saying all the right things right now and both accountability and expectations were the talk of early camp.
“Everybody got to be accountable,” middle linebacker Denzel Perryman, who lead the Raiders in tackles last year, said during a post camp practice media session last week. “It’s 11 players on the field and if I don’t do my job, I probably messed up the whole defense. So, that’s where that accountability goes into. Everybody got be on their job.”
Ditto for (presumed) starting center Andre James who had to jog around with backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham after the duo couldn’t get the snap off without a hitch.
“Exactly. I think that would be a good picture to just show you what’s going on here. Just to show you that we’re not going to let little things slip,” James said of the emphasis on accountability. “There’s accountability for everything that we do and that’s just something that this coaching staff has brought in and something that’s going to be a part of practices.
“It’s all about the details. These coaches are super detail-oriented, and we love that. Yeah, we need to clean up some of the snaps.”
Like mentioned above with Carr, neither the player’s stature or mega-contract makes them immune to the new mentality in the Raiders facilities. And that’s excellent as the standard is set for everyone to attain. No special treatment, no favored nations-type mentality. Every Raider is held to the same bar to reach.
“At the end of the day, there’s a standard and that starts with your individual group, the defense as a whole, the offense, everything,” pass rusher Maxx Crosby said. “So being accountable for your group, there’s got to be people who set the standard every single day. And personally, I try to be one of those guys that if we’re running, we’re doing conditioning tests, we’re doing whatever; I am always going to try to max out in everything I do and try to elevate everybody around me.”
Crosby went on to highlight other star players exhibiting the same mentality.
“And we got to have a bunch of guys that do the same, and I feel like we do. Chandler is another guy like that. He’s 32 years old. He was here at every single OTA, and you don’t see that often. And that’s rare,” Crosby continued. “Davante Adams, same thing. He was here all offseason. The dude is the best receiver in football. Derek Carr, same thing. Dude is going into year nine and he’s here every single day. So, yeah, we have great leadership on this team. We have a ton of guys that have done it at a high level and the more people we get like that, the more leaders that come into it. Nate Hobbs, that guy has been working his tail off and getting better every single day. That’s going to attribute to getting this team better. And I think we’re definitely going in the right direction.”
The ‘right direction’ for the Raiders tends to be another playoff berth and perhaps an extended trip to the postseason. McDaniels and Ziegler’s championship experience from the East is definitely a desire as they are now leading the desert marauders. Depending on who you talk to, expectations are tempered as the team embarks on install and assimilation during the early portions of camp.
“You know, the thing I’ve learned in this league is never get too high and never too low,” Crosby began. “We have obviously a ton of great talent on both sides of the ball, but at the end of the day it’s a one day at a time approach. We got a ton of work to do. Last year was last year and next year is next year. But we got to stay in the present and just get better one day at a time.
“At the end of the day, all that stuff is great. Davante [Adams] is incredible. He’s a great teammate, a great player. Chandler, all these guys, it’s all the same. But it doesn’t matter. Preseason hype is preseason hype. There’s always going to be teams that get hyped up and things like that. But for us, we got to show up and do the groundwork.”
For McDaniels, the only expectation his Raiders should be concerned about it’s foundation building.
“I think the only expectation we have is that we’re going to go out there and work extremely hard to try to be the best team we can be each day and improve,” the head coach said. “At this point in time, during the course of this season, we’re in a complete foundational building type phase. We’re not worried about thinking about opponents and games and strategies and those kinds of things. This is about fundamentals and techniques and conditioning and communication and learning each other and knowing how to work with different groups of your teammates.”