With the Oakland Raiders now in another dead period between now and the start of formal training camp in six weeks time, we polled our staff on what they think went as expected at this week’s minicamp and what surprised them.
Matt Gutierrez – Staff Writer/Co-Host Silver and Black Today on CBS Sports Radio 1140-AM/S&BT Podcast
Mo Hurst. Granted, they’re just in shorts and t-shirts for minicamp – or “underwear” as Paul Guenther calls it. Hurst looks the part of a 1st round talent that fell in the Raiders lap late in the draft because of a heart concern. Guenther said, even in shorts, “I know what it’s supposed to look like,” and Hurst looks like the real deal. Hurst should have gone in the 1st round. He will be the absolute steal of the 2018 draft as long as he stays healthy. The Raiders finally have a middle push on the defensive front.
Chris Reed – Senior NFL Analyst/Staff Writer/Contributor to Silver and Black Today on CBS Sports Radio 1140-AM
Coach Jon Gruden bringing energy and pushing the pace during this minicamp. He said something about “leading the league in reps and effort,” and he certainly has been a man of his word thus far.
Hayden Nadolny – Senior NFL Writer/Contributor to Silver and Black Today Podcast and CBS Sports Radio 1140-AM
As expected, Derek Carr looks like his old 2016 self. This team is only going to go as far as Derek goes, so for him to be on point is a great sign heading into training camp.
Scott Gulbransen – Publisher/Producer & Host of Silver and Black Today on CBS Sports Radio 1140-AM/S&BT Podcast
Clearly, Gruden’s focus on culture change is working and the message has been received loud and clear by rookies and veterans alike druing OTAs and minicamp. The intensity, the unyielding focus on even the small things shows this roster this coach wants to win and win now. As expected, Gruden is a master communicator and you can see the impact of that already.
J. Burroughs – Staff Writer/Editor – SilverAndBlackToday.com
Gruden’s learning curve. It’s too early to know just how the coach will adapt to the trappings of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement and how it has changed the game since Gruden last coached. There were a few times during his minicamp press conferences where he expressed his displeasure or frustration with the rules surrounding practice. I expected that but the impact it has going forward are unknown.
Reed: Martavis Bryant‘s possible suspension and how quick the secondary is coming together. Sounds like they are getting their hands on a lot of passes. We knew the Raiders brought in upgrades but Derrick Ansley is doing a masterful job getting them ready. The consensus was it was a great pick for defensive backs coach but he is working FAST and this minicamp really showed how he will shine.
Gulbransen: Although I have this as “unexpected,” I expected third-round draft pick Brandon Parker to really shine as a rookie and he has. Not only has he picked up the offense quickly, and been an astute student of Tom Cable the past several weeks, but he’s also emerged as a leader in waiting. Veterans spoke highly of Parker after he got into it with defensive end Fadol Brown during minicamp on Tuesday. The fight resulted in a tongue lashing by Gruden (and Fadol was ejected) but it showed he wasn’t going to be pushed around.
Burroughs: Kolton Miller. I was one of the people who thought the Raiders reached taking him in the first round. But after hearing what Gruden and Cable had to say, and reading reports about his ability and how he was taking to the NFL, I think he could contribute right away.
Gutierrez: Erik Harris. No one thought Harris would be a name so high on Gruden’s praise list. With so many question marks in the secondary, there was ample opportunity for an unknown to step up. Reggie Nelson has felt like a stop gap for a while now, and it could ‘ve Harris that takes his spot.
Nadolny: The biggest surprise to me was the way Gruden was able to contextualize the fight between Fadol Brown and Brandon Parker. Coaches in the past in Oakland have almost encouraged a scrap or two here and there because it highlights the competitive nature they’re trying to foster. It was refreshing though for Gruden to explain the ramifications of Brown’s actions with a 15-yard penalty (and being removed from the rest of practice) resulting in putting the offense in position for a game-winning field goal. As Gruden said, the last thing they want is to lose from a bonehead decision like that and then have to make a long flight home back to Oakland. The best coaches are able to separate the forest from the trees and this is certainly one example where Gruden has shown his foresighted thinking.
Join us live on Sunday for our Silver and Black Today radio show on CBS Sports Radio 1140-AM in Las Vegas. Austin Gayle from Pro Football Focus joins us to talk about the Raiders offensive line, and we’ll continue to assess the minicamp outcomes. If you’re not in Las Vegas, you can still listen live using the Radio.com app or on TuneIn. We also will be, once again, simulcasting the show on Facebook Live.