Training Camp Report: Day Three

Sports Illustrated's Raider Maven takes you inside the Las Vegas Raiders training camp with the latest inside information from the NFL's elite franchise.
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Henderson, Nev.--People are hungry for information on their beloved Las Vegas Raiders, and I am here with a smorgasbord of food. Let's dig right into the latest on your beloved Silver and Black.

I get a lot of nuggets and information that alone are not big enough for a story. When I have a few that I can assemble, I will. So, welcome to The Black Hole:

I can tell you this: Raider Nation has a ton to be excited about. This article is already long, or I could give you many more reasons and players to be excited about. Keep your eyes out for the next "Black Hole," and please tell your friends about it by sharing it on social media.

  • The Las Vegas Raiders are loaded on offense and return the 10th ranked offensive attack in the NFL with a bevy of new toys.
  • Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson can't wait to show off his offense to a packed Allegiant Stadium, either. "No question and really probably more importantly for our defense to have a home crowd advantage for our defense out there making it more difficult for the opposing teams' quarterbacks coming in. That's what we're most excited about. But to see the excitement in our players, we had a number of players who were at the hockey games and got a chance to ring the horn, so they know this is a town that will get behind them when we win. So, they're excited to have a home field advantage with the crowd in the stadium. So, I think everybody, not just the offensive players but I think the entire team is looking forward to having the stadium full."
  • Olson is pleased to have Derek Carr as his quarterback. He loves what Carr does leading this offensive and continues to be impressed with his growth.
  • Olson said: "I think he's a real smart and intelligent quarterback, and he'll do what we ask him to do. And as you know a lot of it is dependent upon the players who are out on the field with him. We know he's an intelligent player, we know he's a very accurate player in terms of throwing the football. Again, when we looked back at what can we do better; explosive plays, explosive plays down the field is one of those areas that we will look to improve upon. And it's a mindset too, but I think he's aware of that as well. I mean he's aware of what we're asking him on every play and what the progression will be and when we want him taking chances and when we don't. But I think again through his experience he should be better moving forward."
  • Guard John Simpson has come into camp with his hair on fire. He is not going to let Denzelle Good have the starting job without a fight.
  • I wrote earlier in the camp that I expected Simpson at some point during the season to win a starting job. I still feel that way.
  • To Simpson's credit, he came in on a mission to win that starting role in the preseason.
  • Greg Olson bragged on Simpson, saying: "I know, and Coach mentioned it yesterday, it's hard to evaluate obviously the offensive line and really any position when you haven't done anything in pads yet. But like I said, John Simpson ended up being our strongest player coming out of the offseason program. So, tremendous strength and for him improvement in the weight room over the last six months has been phenomenal. So, if his work ethic has anything to do with how he's going to take the next step this year, if that has anything to say about it, he'll be a much better player. But he again, he gained more weight, he gained more strength and yet he didn't lose his flexibility or the athleticism that we saw when we drafted him, so we're excited about him."
  • I have written in great detail about wide receiver Henry Ruggs being ready this season. Something Greg Olson has already seen three days into camp.
  • "(Ruggs) came back in tremendous shape with the weight gain, which a lot of times when guys gain weight like that, they lose their speed, or they lose their conditioning, but he's looked in really good shape these first two days, so we're excited about his body transforming and how he looks."
  • I have written that I expect Clelin Ferrell to move inside to get some reps. The depth of the defensive line is the early storyline in camp.
  • Clelin was never going to be a sack machine, which is not his role. He is a space-eater, and that would see him slide inside.
  • With Andre James and Alex Leatherwood as the new guys starting on the offensive line, the Silver and Black want to get that entire offensive line some massive reps this preseason.
  • Greg Olson knows that reps are the key, and lots of them.
  • "Playing together is always important with the guys up front and that's no matter what level of football you're playing at. If you have continuity there with those five guys because of the communication then certainly you're going to be ahead of the curve. Again, we got new players, new positions. Andre James but he's been here. Alex Leatherwood, a very intelligent guy. He's picked it up very quickly and then the communication with our guards who are veteran guys has been great going out to him on the outside. The only way to get that group of players better is for them to play together and we're going to get that done here in training camp."
  • There is no doubt that the Raiders' red zone scoring has been bad. There are many reasons, but what matters is that they have to fix it.
  • Something Greg Olson agrees with.
  • "Goal-to-go scoring is really the biggest issue, not in the tight red zone, but when we got the ball on first-and-goal we did not score enough touchdowns when you look at it again. We try and base where are we at? How many categories statistically are in the top-10? How many are in the bottom 10? Let's get this offense in these top-10 categories and, as you said, we were for the most part, but it will be a big emphasis here in training camp. It was a big emphasis in the OTAs and the June minicamp just to make sure that the players understand when we get in those situations, the urgency once we get down there in the tight red zone. So, we'll have a chance here to fix the situation during training camp and during our three preseason games, and then we'll hit the ground running when the season gets going."
  • Carl Nassib is a guy having a good camp early. He under-performed in 2021, and he has come into this camp on a mission.
  • Tight end Foster Moreau is a guy that we have writing about a lot this offseason.
  • We have said that when the season is over, many will reflect on how he was overlooked in camp.
  • Greg Olson agrees with our assessment of Moreau looking good.
  • "He looks great right now. Again, you got to realize that a year ago he was coming off that knee surgery, so he missed the entire offseason. He was able to lift weights from January all the way up here until the start of training camp, and he's spending a lot of time during the summer with Darren Waller. He's gone to the tight end camp that (George) Kittle put on during the summer and got a chance to be around some of the great tight ends in the league and obviously he's around a great one every day in Darren Waller. But he's bigger, he's faster, he's stronger and we have real high expectations for him this season."
  • Alex Leatherwood looks the part for the Las Vegas Raiders, and every day is growing in camp. He has Greg Olson's eye.
  • "The volume and what we ask our players to do really in a two-day period what we've asked them in terms of the installation. We probably installed over 400 plays in two days and very limited mental reps. We had him in the rookie camp for three days and very few, if any, mental errors. So, that's the biggest reason. And he had very few mental errors during the OTAs and June camps. You just have a conversation with him about football and you realize that this guy is an intelligent football player, and he's an intelligent person, but a very intelligent football player. And obviously he's looked very athletic as well, so we're excited about his start. We haven't put the pads on. You got to temper some of those high expectations you have, but he's looked very good out here in shorts."
  • Olson has not been able to hide his enthusiasm. He likes what he has and the growth of his young players.
  • "We feel very comfortable with the guys we have there and in the person that we drafted in Alex (Leatherwood) and the guys that we brought in to play the inside positions and having Andre (James) here. They're players that have been in our system and know the system. We feel good about them. And probably one of the biggest losses was Nelson (Agholor), but again we drafted Henry Ruggs with the first pick last year and we felt like Bryan Edwards was a guy that could really develop into a great wide receiver, and we're seeing that growth from those two players from year one to year two."
  • Kenyan Drake's speed and talent are going to be another arrow in the Raiders' quiver. Olson understands what his new offensive toy brings to this team.
  • "Yeah, you're always looking for skilled players or players to get the ball to. And we've got we feel like capable players right now at every position. Nelson Agholor will be a tough guy to replace, but we really feel good about both Bryan (Edwards) and Henry (Ruggs III) right now. And we brought in John Brown who's looked good. Willie Snead is a guy that's come over and has looked very good in OTAs and looked good here the first two days, so we have some capable guys that we think can step up, but again the more weapons that you have certainly the harder you are to defend down there."

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