Oakland Raiders veterans speak to the press after first day of voluntary minicamp and share their good feelings about the approach of new coach Jon Gruden.
The media sneak peak of the Oakland Raiders veteran minicamp ended with a press conference with Raiders head coach Jon Gruden, quarterback Derek Carr, and newly acquired wide receiver Jordy Nelson.
Gruden, seemingly utilizing his team’s new strength and conditioning staff, looked lean and in game shape himself. Dressed in black shorts, team shirt, and a black visor, he was the focused Chucky we’ve all come to know.
He reminded everyone that he was glad to be back, and it “felt good”. He talked about everything from the giant new LCD TV on the field to only wearing the old school Raiders logo. When asked to wear a blacked out shield he said,”Get that out of here!”
When it came to his prized quarterback, Gruden stayed the course talking Derek Carr up and how he was going to have to give him what he needed to succeed on the field.
“You can have a real creative imagination with that guy at the quarterback position,” Gruden said. “He can make every throw. It comes out of his hand fast and accurate. He’s mobile, sharp, [and] he’s a great leader. We tried to give him some audibles, give him some different situations on the first day, he didn’t blink. We just have to do our part as coaches, and we have to improve the positions around him.”
After Gruden was done holding court, Carr and Nelson each took to the podium. Carr spoke about how Coach Gruden threw everything in the play book at him, and he was ready.
“I’ve known him now for like four or five years,” Carr said of his new coach. “He’s never changed. He’s always been the same guy with me. He’s hard on me, he pushes me, he challenges me, which is everything I want of myself. At the same time, he’ll tell me ‘I love you man.'”
Carr is – as we have mentioned before – on his fourth playbook in five years. When we asked him about it, he said he was accustomed to change and it had become part of his routine.
“It kinda gets easier in a weird sort of way,” Carr joked. He did say that he and Gruden were focused on improving communication and that they were about 90% on the same page early on.
Nelson, in his first meeting with the media as a member of the Raiders, was in good spirits after his first day in the silver and black. His first minicamp with the Raiders has been smooth sailing he says.
When asked why he chose to play in Oakland, he credited his friends and former teammates wide receiver Davante Adams and NFL Network talent, and former wide receiver, James Jones for guiding him in selecting the Raiders.
“The free Agency period goes fast, so it was nice to have that kind of intel,” Nelson said. “When I asked him what his first take on coach Gruden was he had this to say, ‘It’s great,’ The energy level that he brings is amazing, and somehow I think he’s consistent with it day in and day out, which is pretty impressive. That’s fun and I think we’ll feed off of that.”
Although other Raiders stated it felt like a first practice, this one was a bit different. Most attributed it to the fast tempo and larger veteran presence than in previous years. Newcomers described it as “energetic.”
Today’s minicamp practice was closed to the media. We’ll be live from Alameda tomorrow with coverage of the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft.