Josh McDaniels will get together with his former boss, Bill Belichick, this week as the New England Patriots come to the Las Vegas Raiders’ facility for joint practices on Tuesday and Wednesday prior to Friday’s preseason finale between the two teams.
Here are some keys to the sessions for the Raiders:
Work for the first teamers:
In many ways, this will be the most important work for the Raiders in training camp, and more so than in the preseason. Several key players including quarterback Derek Carr, wide receivers Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow, tight end Darren Waller and pass-rushers Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones (you know, the stars), haven’t played in any of the first three preseason games (they didn’t even travel to Miami last weekend) — and probably won’t play Friday night. So this will be the only work against another set of helmets for many first teamers. The Raiders will get a feel for where they are at in these practices against Belichick’s squad.
The Raiders have both guard spots and right tackle jobs open. They are still auditioning several players and this work against the Patriots’ first defensive line will help the Las Vegas coaching staff figure things out. This film work will be closely watched.
Joint practices are popular around the league, but they are almost always marred by multiple fights between the two teams. The Patriots had several melees while working out with the Carolina Panthers last week. Last August, the Raiders and Rams had to halt a joint practice because of excessive fighting, and the Raiders had an infamous fight with the Dallas Cowboys eight years ago. The reason is that players are tired and pissy during training camp and seeing unfamiliar faces often triggers scraps. Thus, there will likely be some pushing and shoving between the Raiders and the Patriots this week. The key is to not let things get out of control and affect the work like last year.
This is paramount. Like preseason games, joint practices come with injury risks. So, the Raiders need to hope that they come out of the extra work with the Patriots unscathed, especially since the starters are going to work so much in the next two days. Health is key with the regular season rapidly approaching.