LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Las Vegas Raiders used 14 offensive linemen in 13 rotations for 20 possessions in their first two preseason games, all looking for a reliable five-man unit for the season. regular.
And Raiders first-year coach Josh McDaniels says that’s not unusual.
“I don’t really think it’s unique at all, it’s really normal,” McDaniels said Monday. “There’s just too much to gain in training camp for you to give up the opportunity to work with different groups. If you put five guys together, and they’re the only five guys they practice extra, you’re doing them a disservice because it’s not realistic.
Maybe not, but when you’re looking to overhaul a unit that allowed heavy all-season pressure on the right side in 2021, it’s important to find the right pass protection for veteran quarterback Derek Carr.
Results through two preseason games haven’t been great, with the Raiders giving up nine sacks. Those sacks mean a lot when every side lineman is vying for a spot on the 53-man roster.
There’s been at least one sack-on-rotation involving every lineman who’s played a down for Las Vegas so far, though many of those players will be substitutes or off the roster at the start of the season.
The biggest problem is at the right tackle. Brandon Parker, who opened camp as a starter there but is now out with an undisclosed injury, was on the court for three sacks in the Hall of Fame game, each of which came from players vs. which he was aligned.
Last year’s first-round pick Alex Leatherwood didn’t even make Game 2 against Minnesota until the second half, while seventh-round rookie Thayer Munford started.
McDaniels insists his game plan is part of a learning process under offensive line coach Carmen Bricillo and assistant line coach Cameron Clemmons.
“He’s used to coaching the whole group as one unit,” McDaniels said. “That’s really what we’re trying to get back to offensively, whether it’s the five offensive linemen or the 11 guys on the field together, we have to be able to work with each other no matter who they are. They will never be the same guys for the whole year or even for an entire game.
With one of the weakest offensive lines last season, Bricillo has his work cut out for him heading into the regular season, especially with Parker out indefinitely and Denzelle Good retiring mid-training camp.
Left tackle Kolton Miller apparently has his spot locked, while left guard John Simpson and center Andre James also appear to have a firm grip on their spots.
That leaves McDaniels and Bricillo to sift through 11 linemen to shore up the right side of the line.
Leatherwood, who started last season at right tackle and guard, is one of those players vying for a spot on the right side this year.
“We have active competition going on, it’s training camp,” Leatherwood said after Sunday’s 26-20 win over Minnesota. “So you get everyone in different places, go with different people, and we’re all in competition trying to find the top five.”
McDaniels said he’s happy with the depth he has watching the competition from the offensive line. After Sunday’s win, he said he felt he had plenty of time with the regular season in over three weeks.
“There are guys who maybe didn’t start (Sunday) for one reason or another who will start on Opening Day at some point,” McDaniels said. “But the competition is real. It’s ongoing, and I think it’s the healthiest thing we have in the locker room because it makes everyone better. When they know they come to work – and there’s something to be said for the work they do every day – it makes it more important. They come with a great attitude, a great approach, and I think that made our team better.
NOTES: The Raiders released DT Vernon Butler and WR Demarcus Robinson on Tuesday. Las Vegas also announced that they waived CB Nate Brooks, DE Gerri Green and OL Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
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