Training camp is underway for the Las Vegas Raiders and the team starting to get a good idea of how the roster is shaping up. The team is pretty set on special teams. Daniel Carlson has developed into one of the best kickers in the NFL while punter A.J. Cole has been proven to be solid.
Carlson’s job is safe but Cole may have some competition. The Raiders announced recently that they’ve decided to sign former Pittsburgh Steelers undrafted free agent punter Corliss Waitman. The team waived kicker Dominik Eberle in a corresponding move.
Waitman is an interesting addition as he’s a left-footed kicker. There aren’t many of those in the NFL. He is from Suriname, which is a country in South America. He eventually made his way to South Alabama and became a punter. He should be a player to watch this training camp.
Eberle came in as an undrafted free agent last year and spent the season on the practice squad. Thanks to Carlson’s strong season, the Raiders never needed Eberle to join the active roster. He’ll likely find another home as he was a two-time Lou Groza Award semifinalist while at Utah State.
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Jon Gruden Talks 2020 Season
For a while, it looked like the Raiders were the surprise team of the 2020 season. They started the season 6-3 with big wins over the New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off and the team went 2-5 to finish the season. Head coach Jon Gruden was not content with the 8-8 record.
“We were 8-8; I think that’s the best of the worst and the worst of the best,” Gruden said Tuesday. “We had some good moments. We proved we could compete in the AFC West. We were a couple of plays away from being really good in the AFC West and we proved we can compete on the road. And I’m hoping that I can somehow find a way to help our team compete better in Allegiant Stadium here because it is a spectacular place. I’m not into grades; I’m into winning championships, and we’ve got a long way to go. And we’re confident that we’re getting better.”
Gruden Needs a Playoff Berth
Gruden is heading into his fourth year as the Raiders head coach and has yet to make the playoffs. Coaches don’t typically keep their job if they miss the playoffs for four straight seasons. Gruden has more job security than most coaches but he also has to start feeling the pressure. Many fans are starting to turn on the coach and another losing season could be really bad.
Luckily, the Raiders are in a better position than most people realize. The defense should be much better with the additions of Yannick Ngakoue, Trevon Moehrig and Casey Hayward. The team also upgraded at defensive coordinator with the hiring of Gus Bradley. The road to the playoffs will be tough but it’s not impossible to see the Raiders surprising people in 2021.