The start of training camp is still two weeks away, but Raiders head coach Jon Gruden hopes players haven’t taken too much of a break since the end of team minicamp in late June.
Gruden, in his first year back with the franchise after many years in the broadcast booth, wants his younger players, in particular, to come into training camp prepared to be impact players. When Gruden first took over the team, he said the Raiders need to get more out of their recent draft classes if they want to become AFC West contenders and reach the playoffs, and he still believes the young talent on the roster needs to make an impact.
He told them after minicamp that he wants them to prepare even during this time off to be ready to produce when they report for camp on July 26.
“I challenged our draft picks, rookies, all of them,” Gruden recently told Anthony Galaviz of the Fresno Bee. “I challenged really the last three draft classes. We need to get more out of our young players here.”
Gruden says the Raiders have some terrific veteran talent and leadership and he wants the younger players to learn from them, as well.
“We’ve got some great role models,” he said. “I want our young guys to stay on the gas pedal, be smart in what they do in the offseason and try to keep their football very close to them. Keep studying, keep training and getting mentally and physically fresh. If we do that, we’ll have a chance.”
After June’s full-roster minicamp, Gruden told reporters he loves the progress he’s seen.
“We came together as a team, which is the most important thing,” he said. “And we made progress. I saw the development of some young players and I saw the assertiveness of some veteran players, which is absolutely a huge positive.”
After slumping to 6-10 in 2017 after going to the playoffs in 2016, the Raiders have their work cut out for them. They go into training camp picked by many to finish behind the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers in the AFC West.