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Aug 1: Raiders Training Camp

Steve Marcus

Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) warms up with the team during Raiders Training Camp at the Raiders Headquarters/Intermountain Health Performance Center Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, in Henderson.

It’s a showcase week for every healthy player on the Raiders’ training camp roster.

In the modern NFL, joint practices have supplanted preseason games as the most important sessions for stars and established veterans. Exhibition games still serve a purpose, but they’re typically more tailored to players in the middle of the roster looking to carve out a role or at the end trying to make the team.

The Raiders will participate in all of the above over the next six days. A pair of joint practices with the San Francisco 49ers is scheduled for Thursday and Friday at the Raiders’ Henderson facility before the rival franchises face off in their first preseason game at 1 p.m. Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.

“It’s just an opportunity to, number one, compete,” Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said in his most recent news conference. “I think that’s an important part of this because I think that makes everybody better and you see some competitive fire out of everybody. Two, I think it’s an opportunity for you to really test your fundamentals, your discipline, the details and techniques that you’ve been working on for months against yourself, against bags and shells and all those things, and now you have an opportunity to go out there and kind of see where you’re at.”

Optimism always abounds during training camp, and the Raiders have plenty of reasons to be happy with where they currently stand. Through two weeks of practices, their defense looks significantly improved, their skill players are showing out and their large rookie draft class is exceeding expectations.

But there have also been challenges, and areas where the Raiders need to progress if they want to be competitive this season. There’s no better chance for Las Vegas to address such shortcomings than in its upcoming extended time lining up across from San Francisco.

So here are five of the most pressing questions facing the Raiders — aside from NFL rushing champion Josh Jacobs’ continued time away from the team as part of a contract dispute — as training camp nears its midway point and enters a significant stretch.

Can the quarterbacks settle down?

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Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo speaks during a press conference at the Raiders Headquarters in Henderson Wednesday, July 26, 2023. WADE VANDERVORT

Football’s most important position has been the Raiders’ most troublesome through 11 practices.

New starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t looked sharp in his return from offseason foot surgery, struggling with interceptions and turnover-worthy plays. In his last two practices alone, Garoppolo has thrown seven interceptions.

The former 49er and Patriots passer has also missed two practices entirely and half of another as he recovers from the injury. But McDaniels has stressed patience and declared he had “no concerns” regarding Garoppolo.

“We’ve also seen some really good throws and some stretches where the offense is really doing a lot of good things,” the coach said. “I think this is the time of camp where it’s very competitive. … We’re making progress and improving, but we’re also seeing a lot of the same things daily from the other side of the ball.”

Backups Brian Hoyer and Aidan O’Connell haven’t given the ball away as much but have also struggled with timing and consistency. O’Connell, a rookie fourth-round pick out of Purdue, has an incredibly raw skill set and will need more time to acclimate to the NFL. The 37-year-old Hoyer is a reliable backup and trusted voice in the locker room but not starting-caliber.

Will the offensive line stabilize?

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Raiders guard Alex Bars (64) warms up during Raiders Training Camp at the Raiders Headquarters/Intermountain Health Performance Center Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023, in Henderson.

With all five starters returning from what graded out as an above-average unit up front last season, the offensive line was supposed to be the least of the Raiders’ concerns in training camp. It hasn’t worked out that way.

The defensive line has routinely gotten the best of the offensive line. Edge rusher Maxx Crosby and defensive tackle Bilal Nichols would both have a high number of sacks if they were allowed to hit the quarterback.

So, presumably in part because of the struggles, the coaching staff has begun tinkering with two of the five offensive line spots. Three starting roles appear secure — left tackle Kolton Miller, left guard Dylan Parham and center Andre James — but right guard and right tackle could now potentially go a number of ways.

Jermaine Eluemunor entered as the incumbent right tackle, but he’s now splitting reps with rising second-year, former seventh-round draft pick Thayer Munford. If Munford wins the job, Eluemunor could possibly slide in and play right guard, but there’s an even bigger logjam there currently.

Returning starter Alex Bars has still played the most, but veterans Greg Van Roten and Netane Muti along with undrafted rookie free agent McClendon Curtis have also gotten looks.

“The room likes to compete,” Bars said. “We like to get better, and we like to make the most of every opportunity. Competition is an opportunity to get better and keep improving.”

Will Davante Adams stay happy?

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Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams (17) warms up with teammates during organized team activities (OTA) at the Las Vegas Raiders headquarters/Intermountain Health Performance Center in Henderson Thursday, May 25, 2023.

The Raiders’ most established superstar briefly created a stir this offseason with one quote regarding the Raiders’ front office and its vision for the team’s offense.

“We don’t see eye-to-eye on what we think is best for us right now,” Adams told The Ringer.

The 30-year-old receiver quickly clarified the comment, posting a picture on social media with general manager Dave Ziegler and pledging his allegiance to the Raiders. But fair or not, Adams’ every move will continue to be placed under a microscope.

And if you’re applying that level of scrutiny, there could be questions on his true level of happiness with the franchise that traded for him ahead of last season. Adams certainly hasn’t seemed as joyous as he was a year ago in training camp when he was tearing up defenses and catching touchdown passes from college best friend Derek Carr.

During a pair of particularly bad offensive stretches in recent practices, Adams has kicked over a pylon and blown strawberries. The three-time first-team All-Pro holds himself to an incredibly high standard and could have very well just been frustrated with himself.

He’s also the consummate professional and would be highly unlikely to foster any kind of rift with Garoppolo, whom he’s repeatedly praised.

But there will continue to be speculation on how Adams feels about a team that looks a lot different than the one he asked to be traded to before the 2022-2023 season. And the Raiders are not going to reach their peak if there’s any disconnect with their best offensive player.

Is Marcus Peters still capable of excelling as a top cornerback?

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Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters recovers a fumble thrown by Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (not shown) during the second half of an NFL football game Nov. 27, 2022, in Jacksonville, Fla. The Las Vegas Raiders have signed two-time All-Pro cornerback Peters in an effort to address one of their most pressing needs.

The Raiders appeared to shore up their biggest weakness on the eve of training camp when they signed the two-time first-team All-Pro to a one-year deal to be their No. 1 defensive back. But there were some concerns with the veteran 30-year-old most recently with the Baltimore Ravens as he hasn’t put together a great season since 2019 and missed all of the 2021 season with a torn ACL.

Early in training camp, he looked more like the aging former star who relatively struggled last year with the Ravens and might have lost a step of speed. But like Garoppolo, he may have just needed time to acclimate to a new situation.

Unlike Garoppolo, he’s already shown signs of that happening. Peters has been terrific in the last few practices with multiple interceptions and tight coverage even on Adams, who’s made a career out of shaking defensive backs with ease.

But Peters said he didn’t feel any adjustment period, so perhaps the ups and downs are just a part of his style that Raiders’ fans will need to get used to.

Peters, who grew up a Raiders’ fan in Oakland, has 31 career interceptions — more than the rest of the roster combined — but often takes risks to get them and has therefore given up his share of big plays too.

“I play offense on defense and defense of offense,” Peters said. “It’s the same thing, they go hand in hand. I want to get the ball, and when the ball is in the air, you’ve got to have a will and want to go get it. And I want to go get it more than everybody else.”

Where is Tyree Wilson?

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Texas Tech defensive lineman Tyree Wilson arrives on the red carpet before the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 27, 2023, in Kansas City, Mo.

The Raiders’ first-round pick from this year’s NFL Draft was initially rumored to go as high as No. 2 overall before medical issues regarding his recovery from a foot injury diminished his stock. Las Vegas ended up taking the Texas Tech edge rusher at No. 7 overall but may now be dealing with the repercussions of his injury.

Wilson is yet to debut on the practice field, even though he and the team initially expressed a confidence he’d back in time for training camp. Raiders coach Josh McDaniels has repeatedly declined to give specific updates on Wilson’s status but said he’s “going to hope” he’s ready for the start of the season.

Asked if there was any way Wilson could miss the whole season, McDaniels said, “As soon as he’s ready, he’s going to be out there. There’s been nothing told to us that that’s not going to happen.”

Las Vegas did get some positive injury news regarding rookie defensive linemen this week when Alabama tackle Byron Young returned from the physically unable to perform list to practice for the first time. But the Raiders sank considerable resources into Wilson by drafting him so highly, and his development will be essential for the future of the franchise.

The fact that Wilson hasn’t been cleared yet inevitably makes for some unease.

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or

Article written by #LasVegasSun


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