The pads were finally on at Monday’s practice for the Oakland Raiders. Everything has been non-contact to this point, so the offensive line hasn’t had much of a chance to showcase their talent to the coaching staff.
With the pads on, the team will start getting a better idea on who’s ready to make waves and who’s not. Obviously, players can’t be overly aggressive due to NFL rules, but now’s the time for linemen, running backs and defenders to shine. Even though padded practices are still in the early stages, there’s one unit that’s already asserting its dominance.
Raiders Offensive Line Dominant During Padded Practice
Early reports from Monday’s practice are that the Raiders offensive line is looking good. While this isn’t the best news for the defensive line, it’s great for quarterback Derek Carr. Right tackle Trent Brown, the Raiders’ biggest free-agent addition, destroyed second-year defensive tackle P.J. Hall. Brown is an absolute behemoth, so Hall is going to have his work cut out for him.
In a somewhat surprising development, second-year left tackle Kolton Miller is coming on incredibly strong in the first padded practice. He’s making rookie defensive end Clelin Ferrell wish he was back at Clemson.
Hopefully, this is more of an indication of how much Miller has improved and not that Ferrell can’t hold his own. He’s still a rookie, so will need time to acclimate to the speed of the NFL game. Gabe Jackson, Richie Incognito and Rodney Hudson are all proven commodities. Miller still needs to prove himself a bit more, so this is a really strong sign for the tackle. With players like Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, Joey Bosa and Frank Clark sharing a division with the Raiders, it’s going to be pertinent for the offensive tackles to play well if Derek Carr is going to stay upright.
Miller added a lot of strength in the offseason. At 6’8″, he certainly has the natural size to develop into a top offensive lineman. He had a rough rookie year, but the team is confident in him. These early signs should be exciting for Oakland.
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Tom Cable’s Outlook
Offensive line coach Tom Cable has to be relieved at these early signs. After a year that saw the Raiders line play very poorly, he could be feeling the heat. General manager Mike Mayock has invested heavily in trying to give Cable the talent he needs to succeed. While Cable has never proven that he can coach a solid offensive line unit, he’s also never had this much talent to work with.
Rodney Hudson is one of the best players in the NFL and Gabe Jackson has been consistent at guard for years. With Richie Incognito suspended for the first two games of the season, left guard will be the biggest question mark entering the year.
Carr has always been at his best when he’s given extra time in the pocket. If he gets ample time to work with, the outlook for the Raiders offense will be strong. Gruden and Mayock shouldn’t hesitate to cut Cable loose if the unit doesn’t play up to potential. So far, things look promising. However, there won’t be confidence in Cable until he can prove that he can lead a successful unit.