It was very clear early in the Las Vegas Raiders‘ offseason that defensive line coach Rod Marinelli had a lot of say in which players the team should sign. The former defensive coordinator for the Dallas Cowboys was able to land a lot of familiar faces. One notable player the Raiders stole from the Cowboys was safety Jeff Heath.
Heath spent seven years in Dallas where he played a lot of special teams, but also started a lot of games at safety. The Cowboys went through some big changes this offseason and brought in a whole new coaching staff. He decided it was a good call to go join a couple of his former coaches in Las Vegas.
“It felt right, I have a lot of familiarity with some of the coaches there,” Heath said to SiriusXM NFL Radio. “[Raiders special teams] Coach [Rich] Bisaccia was in Dallas with me for my first five years and Coach Marinelli was there too, and I’ve been with him the whole time I was in Dallas. I just got a really good feeling talking to Coach Gruden and Mr. Mayock, obviously Coach Rich and Coach Marinelli, all those guys. A lot of familiarity, it’s going to be fun being a part of something new being the first year in [Las] Vegas, so it all kind of went into that decision.”
Despite not making the playoffs last season, the Cowboys fielded a strong defense. Heath will have to compete with Erik Harris and Damarious Randall to get the starting job next to Johnathan Abram.
Heath Talks About Jon Gruden
Though Jon Gruden was out of the NFL for quite a long time, he still has the ability to recruit players. His manic energy is infectious and it really resonates with some players. It was a selling point for Heath.
“I had great conversations with all of those guys and Coach Gruden, he’s one of a kind,” Heath said. “Talking to him on the phone he brings a ton of energy and lots of excitement. My expectations are really how they’ve been my entire career, I’m expecting to go in and compete and try to earn everything I get. I’m going to help the team with whatever and in whatever capacity they need me. I’m just going in with the expectation of working hard and building relationships with some new guys and some new coaches, and trying to build a good team and win some games.”
Heath is the kind of player that will do the dirty work for the team. He’s not a glamorous player and won’t make a ton of crazy plays, but he’s exactly what Gruden likes to have on the squad.
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Heath Is Excited About Las Vegas
In 2020, the Raiders officially left Oakland for the bright lights of Las Vegas. The team hasn’t moved everything to their new city yet as they are waiting for a number of construction projects to finish up. Oakland isn’t the most glamourous city when compared to Las Vegas, so many around the organization are excited about the move.
“It’s going to be awesome, man,” Heath said. “I have no idea what to expect, obviously I’ve been there for vacation on the weekends, but that’s going to be a little different than what it will be like playing football there. I’m just excited to be a part of something new. I know when they got their NHL team a few years ago, the excitement and the support from the city around that team was off the charts, so I can imagine [what it will be like] when they get that football team there.”