The Las Vegas Raiders are mere days from facing a live opponent in the Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2022 Hall of Fame Game this Thursday. It'll be an excellent opportunity for the Silver & Black to not only compete against another team but also ramp up internal competition for roster spots.
There's little question to who is the Raiders starting quarterback. Derek Carr has that spot on lockdown. However, the hierarchy behind QB1 remains influx. Hence why Las Vegas quarterbacks coach Bo Hardegree is eager to see his group against the Jaguars. While it's unclear if Carr will get any snaps in the Raiders' preseason opener or if Jarrett Stidham or Nick Mullens draws the start, Bo knows what he wants to see from his group.
"Just execution," Hardegree said during his post-practice press conference over the weekend. "Just going out and having fun. Sticking to our rules and going out and playing. I’m really excited to see those guys go compete and play football.”
Stidham and Mullens are likely to make their Raider debuts during the Hall of Fame tilt and perhaps undrafted free agent Chase Garbers will mix in, too. The Cal product impressed head coach Josh McDaniels in OTAs and the quarterback continues to grind. That's caught the eyes of Hardegree, too.
“Yeah, Chase has been great since rookie minicamp. He’s come in, he’s worked, he put the extra time in the summer," the QB coach said. "It really paid off when he showed back up for training camp because we moved quick in training camp, and he’s kept up. And I’m just continuing to push him and he’s responding well.”
Pushing the entire group is vital. Competition is integral to Vegas quarterback room as everyone is pushing each other to get better. While Carr's status is cemented, the fight for backup duties intensifies the room as whole and the trio of Stidham, Mullens and Garbers want to impress Hardegree and McDaniels as a means to land on the 53-man roster. Fighting for and earning jobs also plays into the Raiders “prepare for all eventualities” mantra McDaniels and his staff have instilled into the team this offseason. It’s akin to the prepare for the worst, hope for the best belief as an injury to Carr could throw the entire position into disarray if there’s no competition.
"I mean, everybody's just competing," Hardegree said. "It's a great room and I think they're doing a good job, taking advantage of opportunities. I'm excited for the preseason."
Questions on who will start and the depth chart at quarterback will be answered in the next day or two. The team traveled to Canton, Ohio today to prep for the Thursday clash.
“We haven’t discussed it. We’ll discuss it as we get closer to game time," Hardegree said of the preseason quarterback pecking order. "But like I said, just day to day, we’re just going out competing and working each day on our install trying to get a little better.”
Even if the Hall of Fame Game because an affair of backups and third-string reserves, it's a learning opportunity that'll provide teach tape for both the Raiders and Jaguars to study as training camp progresses. One of the biggest lessons, beside the ones Vegas quarterbacks will observe, is for the offensive linemen in front of them. Hardegree was asked about the importance of the offensive line when it comes to the offense install and quarterbacks going through their progressions. And his answer to that query was the most detailed.
"It’s great, but I mean we have a timing. We execute within the timing of the play. I always tell them to be aggressive within the timing of the play," Hardegree said. "And they understand that, and we have a clock in our head. We got a great offensive line room and I’m really excited to see all those guys go out and compete.”
New Carr Smell
Like McDaniels, Hardegree watched Carr from afar and was impressed. That impression remains and grows now that the quarterback coach has a direct hand in coaching the Raiders franchise signal caller.
“Like I said before, I always thought that he was a great player. He’s a great competitor. He’s won a lot of football games, played a lot of good football," Hardegree noted. "I’m just excited to coach him and get him better every day.”
Carr has been putting in the work away from Raiders facilities and it's a practice each of the other quarterbacks have taken to. Not only is Carr putting in the volume of work, he asks questions to ensure he's understanding the scheme.
"“Yeah, like I said with the rest of them, he’s putting in a lot of time away from work. And he has a lot of football. He has a big library, and he’s improving," Hardegree said. "Like I said, he’s asking great questions and we’re moving forward each day. I’m really excited about them all.”