Derek Carr, Darren Waller and a number of Raiders have been hard at work this offseason in Las Vegas getting ready for the Silver and Black's inaugural season in Sin City.
With workouts at team facilities a no-go due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Carr has been training with a number of players at a local park, and the group now is up around 30 to 35 players. Among those present are Waller, Hunter Renfrow, Zay Jones, Tyrell Williams, Richie Incognito, Kolton Miller, Johnathan Abram and Damarious Randall, according to The Athletic's Vic Tafur.
It's been blistering hot in Las Vegas of late -- as it usually is come summer -- and Waller believes these 90-minute workouts in triple-digit heat will give the Raiders an edge when the season rolls around.
"We can deal with extreme temperatures, we go right at it and we work, no excuses," Waller told Tafur. "I feel like that can pay dividends for us in the season, knowing that we can go into any kind of environment, hot or cold, and do our thing."
An added mental edge certainly could help a Raiders team that lost five of their last six games in 2019 to fall out of playoff contention, including losses to the New York Jets and Jacksonville Jaguars. Last season, the Raiders surprised everyone by starting 6-4 and looking primed for a playoff run despite a defense that was woeful against the pass and an offense that lacked big-play ability outside of Waller.
Both aspects should be a thing of the past in 2020.
The Raiders will enter their first season in Las Vegas with their most complete offensive unit in years. Waller, Renfrow and Williams will be joined by star running back Josh Jacobs and dynamic rookie receivers Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards. They also added a ton of talent on defense, hoping to go from the bottom of the league in defensive DVOA to somewhere in the middle of the pack.
On the offensive side Carr now will have a full arsenal with which to operate Jon Gruden's complex offense after having to gut it out with patchwork receiving corps a season ago.
The addition of Ruggs obviously is the most important. The speedy Alabama receiver will give the Raiders' offense a whole new dimension with his ability to stretch the field vertically. His speed also will pay dividends for the rest of the offense as defenses will have to key in on Ruggs on every snap to try to contain his 4.27 speed.
That should, in theory, give Jacobs, Waller and Renfrow more room to operate now that defenses can load up to stop the run and bracket Waller, something the Raiders saw often toward the end of the season.
Expect Gruden to use Ruggs on a number of short passes, screens and jet sweeps, finding any way he can to get the ball into his hands. Sending Ruggs in motion also should be a popular tool for the Raiders to help Carr determine man or zone coverage pre-snap. The top five teams in pre-snap motion last year all made the playoffs and both Super Bowl competitors -- the 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs -- ranked one and two in that category, showing the benefit of helping your quarterback identify the coverage before the snap.
The Raiders' offseason virtual program will wrap up shortly with training camp expected to begin in late July.
Carr, Waller and the Raiders want to hit the ground running as they start a new era in Las Vegas. Early reports from the Carr-led unofficial OTAs give reason to believe the Raiders will be ready to make another leap in 2020.
Darren Waller believes Raiders will get edge from players-led workouts originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area