Las Vegas Raiders Training Camp Preview – Las Vegas Raiders Blog
HENDERSON, Nev. — The Las Vegas Raiders open 2022 NFL Training Camp Wednesday at the Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center. Here is an overview of some scenarios:
The most convincing positional battle: Let’s look at the right side of the offensive line, specifically the right tackle. Because if the Raiders are going to restart him with the same O line that helped fire Derek Carr 40 times in 2021, with the right side being the weak link, that’s ground zero. Alex Leatherwood, last year’s first-round pick, started the season at RT, moved to right guard in Week 5, but was seeing time away in OTAs and minicamp. If Denzelle Good is healthy enough to reclaim her RG spot after suffering a torn left ACL in the season opener, that should solidify things.
And that’s not counting swing tackle Brandon Parker or Jermaine Eluemunor, who has played in both places and is already familiar with new coach Josh McDaniels’ system from his time with the New England Patriots. Seventh-rounder Thayer Munford and UDFA Bamidele Olaseni could also be looking at right tackle while third-rounder Dylan Parham appears to be slated for left guard.
The player with the most to prove: We should just rename it the Derek Carr Award. Every year Carr endures the slingshots and arrows of so many rumors and reports of him being on the trading block and yet he stays. What’s different now, however, is that outside of the aforementioned offensive line, Carr has the most dynamic weapons at his disposal, not only in personnel, but also in stratagems and plays. Additionally, the Raiders went all-in by bringing his best friend from college, the league’s top receiver Davante Adams, in a trade to the Green Bay Packers. No more excuses? Yes something like that.
But didn’t Carr just sign a three-year, $121.5 million extension? Indeed, but under the terms of the deal, the Raiders aren’t required to pay him anything after this season and would only eat $5.6 million in dead money if they chose to move on. . Additionally, Carr’s total QBR dropped every time he had a change of playcallers. Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but this is truly a breakthrough season for Carr, who, as previously stated, has everything he could ask for…unless that O-line breaks again.
The biggest question: Yeah, staying on Carr’s corner here, but we’ve talked so much about the connection he’s had with Adams since their college days together. And although they worked together as pros during the offseason, they were the last teammates in (checks notes) 2013. So how fresh is the chemistry between the former Fresno State Bulldogs, and how long will it take to reconnect in a game situation? Adams has definitely benefited from playing under a Hall of Fame quarterback in Aaron Rodgers. But while Carr had Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller to kick the ball around with the Raiders, Adams is on another level.
However long or short it takes for Adams and Carr to sync up, it will go a long way in determining what kind of on-court success they have in Las Vegas. Because remember, Carr finds a target and sticks with it, from Waller and his 107 receptions in 2020 to Renfrow and his 103 catches last season. Adams has averaged 119 catches over the past two seasons.
Most impactful off-season addition: Non-Davante Adams Division? Chandler Jones. Of course, the Raiders essentially traded Yannick Ngakoue, who is five years younger, for Jones, who is polishing a CV worthy of Canton. Jones’ 107.5 sacks and 33 forced fumbles are the most in the NFL in the last 10 years and although five of his 10.5 sacks last year came in the season opener, he still enough remains in the 32-year-old’s tank to stay commanding respect and double teams.
And that frees up opportunities for his pound thrower Maxx Crosby, a rising star who was last year’s Pro Bowl defensive MVP. Now, Jones isn’t in Las Vegas just to be a decoy; he was signed to bring veteran leadership as well as the wreck shop on his own. And at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds, Jones is also 3-inches and 19 pounds over Ngakoue, who led the Raiders with 10 sacks in 2021.
Bold prediction: The Raiders will return to the playoffs for a second straight season. Wait, shouldn’t a team that survived the struggles of last season, that made upgrades throughout the roster, as well as in the scheme and call-ups, be a lock on returning to the Super Bowl tournament? ? If so, the best solution would be to predict that Las Vegas would fail, right? Well… the flip side shows so many unknowns and resulting questions in a division that has seen every team make significant improvements that pick Las Vegas to be in the playoffs for consecutive seasons for the first time since 2000. -02 seems like the bolder way to go. At least before training camp.