Antonio Pierce details ‘training camp’ style first practice as Raiders coach: ‘We got to get back to physical football’

Anyone who watched the Raiders beat the Super Bowl-champion Chiefs on Christmas knows that Antonio Pierce unlocked a physical style of football when he became the interim coach in Las Vegas.

The Raiders physically dominated Kansas City, who used the beatdown as motivation to win it all yet again this season. So how did Pierce get his players to respond in such a way? When did it start?

In a wide-ranging, insightful interview, Pierce told The Pivot Podcast that it started on Day 1 of his regime. Specifically, his first practice as the man in charge of the Raiders.

“We go out to practice; it’s November 1st. We put the pads on: 15 straight plays. All runs,” Pierce said, making a gesture with his hands implying the team moved down the field. “[Then we] bring it back. We did that for an hour. Straight training camp [stuff].

“I said we need to get that aggression out, that anger out. We got to get back to playing physical football. I went to all of them and said, ‘Y’all just got to trust what I’m trying to do. And trust in one another and let’s do it together.'”

It’s impressive that Pierce could run an abbreviated training camp mid-season and still inspire the Raiders roster. In today’s NFL, physicality is generally limited in practice. Plus, Pierce’s roster was already disgruntled, due to the Raiders’ previous regime, run by ex-coach Josh McDaniels.

Pierce’s recollection of that day speaks to his disciplinarian streak as a coach. Team owner Mark Davis has said it’s one reason Pierce earned the full-time job in Las Vegas.

That pairs well with his reputation as a coach who can relate to players. Pierce was a Super Bowl-winning middle linebacker for the Giants, as most know. His motivational skills were evident as he led the Raiders to a 5-4 record to close the 2023 campaign, salvaging a season that had gone dreadfully wrong.

Pierce has tapped into his players’ innate love for football — because physicality is the most important part of the sport, no matter how much it evolves. As the Raiders finished strong last season, it was clear: they love football, therefore they love to hit the opponent. Pierce will try to cement that as part of the Raiders identity once again, just as it was during the franchise’s best days.

Story originally appeared on Raiders Wire