The Las Vegas Raiders have an interesting task on Sunday as they have to play a team with a new quarterback, new coach and no fans in the stands. While that’s not necessarily a thing that works in favor of the Carolina Panthers, it does present a unique challenge. Carolina will also face a unique challenge as the Raiders are planning on starting two rookie wide receivers.
Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs don’t have any NFL game tape, but Panthers head coach Matt Rhule is very familiar with them. He even went so far as to say that Ruggs was one of his favorite players in the draft, according to Vic Tafur of The Athletic.
Panthers coach Matt Rhule thinks Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards are "perfect complements to what (#Raiders) already have on offense, in Waller and everyone else."
Said Ruggs was one his favorite players he interviewed in draft process. "Loved his competitiveness."
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) September 9, 2020
There are big expectations for the young wide receivers but the Raiders won’t know what to expect from them until they play a regular-season game. Rhule is right, Edwards and Ruggs complement each other very well. They could end up being one of the better rookie wide receiver duos we’ve seen in a while.
Rhule Discusses Relationship With Jon Gruden
Thanks to a long career in coaching and in the media, Raiders head coach Jon Gruden has relationships with people all over the NFL. Despite the fact that this is Rhule’s first NFL coaching job, he revealed that Gruden is one of his mentors.
“In my previous life, I would have considered him a sort of mentor from afar,” Rhule said, via Alaina Getzenberg. “I got to know him, we hit it off. A couple years ago when I had another NFL opportunity (with the New York Jets) and I was trying to figure out what to do, he was one the first people I called.”
Gruden loves being a mentor to coaches and spent time doing that when he was out of the NFL. Now that he’s back, he’s a lot less likely to help Rhule out.
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Gruden Talks Rhule
Like previously mentioned, the Raiders don’t have a lot of film to work with when it comes to the Panthers. This means the team has to get creative with how they study their upcoming opponent. Gruden revealed what they’re doing to prepare.
“We did a lot of work,” Gruden said. “We watched Temple, we watched Baylor, we watched anything we could get our hands on. It’s a little like when you were a high school coach and you used to drive across the county to exchange films, but unfortunately, their coach never showed up so you didn’t get any tape to look at. It’s a challenge, there’s no doubt. What are they going to play in third-and-5? What are they going to play in goal line, short yardage? We’ll just trust our preparation, trust our rules, do the best we can.”
Rhule as a coach of professional football players is a new beast. He had a lot of success in the college ranks but it doesn’t always translate. The Raiders could be in for some good or bad surprises on Sunday.
Follow Austin Boyd on Twitter: @austincjboyd