Raiders preparing for 2 days of joint practice sessions with Rams

Kirk Kern

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The Raiders will hit the road this week, beginning joint practice sessions with the Rams in Thousand Oaks, California, prior to their preseason game in Los Angeles on Saturday night.

The two teams will face off in practice on Wednesday and Thursday. It will be the first time the Raiders have visited the Rams training camp site.

Coach Jon Gruden said he’ll have to “wait and see” how much his players will get out of the joint practice, but added seeing different matchups against different players could help in evaluating talent.

“It’ll be a good eye-opening experience for the young players and other than that we’ll have situations; two-minute drill,” he said. “We’ll have some red zone. We’ll have some second-and-longs and third-down situations, much like we’ve done here. So, it will be fun to see some different fronts, see some different coverages and see some different players.”

One thing he hopes he doesn’t see is any extracurricular activities that sometimes occurs when two teams meet up.

“We don’t want any pushing and shoving and fighting,” Gruden said. “That’s not competitive, that’s stupidity. And we got to keep our poise and get our work done.”

Additional players available for joint practice sessions

Tight end Darren Waller was on the field on Tuesday, along with defensive backs Karl Joseph, Isaiah Johnson and rookie Divine Deablo. Gruden said quarterback Marcus Mariotta also practiced.

Deablo came into camp injured and Gruden said the team took a cautious approach before clearing him to practice. He could be available to play in the final preseason game against the San Francisco 49ers on Aug. 29.

“He had an injury that we feared was worse than it was,” Gruden said. “And I give him a lot of credit, while we were all on vacation having a good time, he was here two-a-days, rehabbing, and he’s ready to go. We are going to protect him here for the next four or five days as he gets acclimated to pads.”

Tape tells the story on game performance

After reviewing the tape of their game Saturday against the Seahawks, Gruden felt pretty good about the performance of new offensive line starters Andre James and rookie Alex Leatherwood.

All-in-all a really good start,” Gruden said. “That opening drive I think was 14 plays and I think as I said the other night we converted a number of third downs, somebody had to be blocking.”

joint practice sessions
Jul 28, 2021; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Las Vegas Raiders tackle Alex Leatherwood (70) is pictured during a team practice at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center in Henderson. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

That tape could also be beneficial to players such as B.J. Emmons and Trey Rages, who shined in the game but will have a difficult time making the roster. Gruden pointed out the work of running backs coach Tim Berbenich for getting the young players ready for game action.

“Yeah, the tape is out there,” Gruden said. “If you watch Ragas, he’s 3-for-3 in pickups. I think Emmons is still a work in progress. They are talking about those young running backs, you ought to talk about Tim Berbenich, the running backs coach, he did a helluva job with those young guys. Both of them really are getting better and this will be another test though this week. They’ll see some different blitzes and some different kinds of looks.”

Gruden supports game-day vaccination policy

The Raiders announced on Monday that they will require all spectators to show proof of vaccination before being allowed to enter Allegiant Stadium for games this season. Those fans will not be required to wear masks during the game. The Raiders are the first team in the NFL to have this requirement.

They will also offer game-day vaccination sites at the stadium for those who haven’t been vaccinated. Those fans will be allowed to enter but will be required to wear masks until the vaccination takes full effect.

“I just support the decisions that are being made,” Gruden said. “Every state, every team is probably going to have a different view on this. I support the decision that was made. I’ll be anxious to see as many Raiders fans as possible with no mask. That’s what I’m excited about. They can make more noise that way. I know it’s a touchy subject for a lot of people, but I do support the direction we’re heading and I encourage everybody that I know to get the vaccine and come and join us.”