Mandatory minicamps start on Tuesday for the Oakland Raiders and the team looks to carry over its momentum from OTAs. All word coming out from OTAs was positive as some of the new players stood out and the team’s energy has been top notch. The Raider’s didn’t see too many notable absences during OTAs, but Tuesday’s minicamp is mandatory, so any absences will be noteworthy.
The minicamp runs from Tuesday until Thursday and will be the last time we see the whole team on the practice field together until training camp in late July. Players are free to work out with each other on their own time, but it’s not required. Minicamps will give us an idea of what to expect from training camp. Like OTAs, no contact will be allowed, but with this minicamp being mandatory, we should get an idea on how the team and players are coming along. Below, we’re going to go through the storylines to watch out for during minicamps.
Revamped Receiving Corps
With some big new additions to the receiving corps in Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams, the offense looked explosive during OTAs. Quarterback Derek Carr has been making a number of big throws to the dynamic receivers. In Brown and Williams, Carr has the best receiving duo he’s ever had. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree formed a formidable duo in 2016, but the addition of Brown puts this unit over the top.
Carr and his receivers should continue to put out highlights into mandatory minicamp. It likely won’t stop there either. Carr has noted the eagerness his new receivers have shown to workout together outside of practice.
This dedication could mean big things for the Raiders in 2019. Brown brings Carr a dependable receiver who will consistently get open and make tough catches and Williams will give Carr a big, fast deep threat to air the ball out to. The fact that practices so far have been non-contact works in the offense’s favor, but look for the Carr and his new receiving corps to keep spitting out highlights for the rest of the offseason.
New Look Defense
The defensive unit the Raiders will be fielding in 2019 will look vastly different than the one they did in 2018. When the defense found out they were losing superstar Khalil Mack right before the season started, they never recovered. There shouldn’t be any bombshell to hit the Raiders this offseason going forward, so that’s already a positive sign. The Raiders added talent at every level of the defense and it should pay huge dividends.
Vontaze Burfict should be a huge improvement at linebacker for the Raiders. The team has continually had issues at the position so getting some much-needed talent there will do a lot. They also added former Denver Bronco Brandon Marshall. Marshall isn’t as big of a name as Burfict, but he’s a solid addition. Marshall missed some time during OTAs with an undisclosed injury, but it doesn’t seem like it’ll keep him out of this week’s minicamp. It’s a situation to monitor though. If Marshall’s out, third-year Raider Marquel Lee will likely see time with the first team. The offense was a stand out during OTAs so we’ll see if the new look Raider defense can slow them down. Also, don’t forget about the rookie defensive additions as they’ll probably be as important as the new veterans.
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Young Players Stepping Up
The young guys from this year’s draft class have come as advertised so far. Fourth overall pick Clelin Ferrell has impressed his new teammate Vontaze Burfict who said Ferrell seems like he’s been with the team for “like five years” because of his leadership ability. Look for Ferrell to solidify a spot as the first-team defensive end during minicamps. Fellow first-round pick Johnathon Abram has also garnered praise for his leadership during OTAs. Abram will also be pushing for a starting spot for the Raiders. Fourth-round pick Maxx Crosby has also turned heads with his freakish athletic ability. He’s impressed so much that it’s led to speculation that he’ll start opposite Ferrell over second-year player Arden Key.
There hasn’t been much word on second-round pick Trayvon Mullen, but he’ll probably get his chance to shine during minicamp. He’s a big, fast cornerback so he might be the only one who can stop Tyrell Williams. There also hasn’t been much word on how the rookies on the offensive side of the ball are looking. Josh Jacobs is impressing with his athletic ability, but it’s hard to get a gauge on how he’s doing without pads on. He should have more opportunity to show off once training camp rolls around.
All Quiet on the Western Front
There’s been a lot of noise about how the Raiders have so much volatility on the team. However, there’s been no drama to report on so far. It’s still young in the offseason, but no news is good news in this case. The Raiders certainly have a lot of characters on the squad. Antonio Brown, Richie Incognito and Vontaze Burfict have all had their fair share of issues. It’s definitely worth keeping an eye on to see how the situation develops, but Burfict and Brown have received praise from their teammates. There hasn’t been any word on how players are getting along with Incognito, but we’ll likely hear something during minicamps. If these players can spend the offseason keeping out of negative headlines, it could mean big things for the Raiders in 2019.