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Perhaps the most important part of the Raiders training camp and preseason starts today. The Raiders are in Thousand Oaks today to face the Rams in the first of two practices. And it figures to be even more valuable in prepping the team for the regular season than any of their preseason games, including the Rams match-up on Saturday.
“We’re looking at the Rams experience as a couple more preseason games,” Jon Gruden said of the two scrimmage days. “You might not see the starters in the Rams game as much as you’ll see them if you were at practice. Sean McVay and I will talk about that a little bit and try to come up with what we deem as the best thing for both of our teams. We want to see the best against the best, and we want to use the preseason game to see the guys that are inexperienced to see where they are in terms of their growth.”
The best against the best. That means the Raiders will be tested by the likes of Pro Bowl QB Matt Stafford, All-Pro CB Jalen Ramsey, and All World DT Aaron Donald. Three players they may not even face in the game. And the Raiders will get to face them for two full practices sessions. You gotta love that.
There’s only so much that can occur in training camp practices to prepare these players for the regular season. Things can get competitive, but not nearly on the same level as if they were facing another team.
“You have to prepare yourself for the season, and that means you got to do things you’re going to do in September,” Gruden said, noting they will open up the playbook a bit more than they would in a preseason game. “So, we’re going to try and do some of those things against the Rams and I’m sure they will too.”
In addition, facing another team can be a much better barometer as to the talent level. So often in practice the question arises when a great play is made if it’s more a product of strong talent on one side or weakness on the other. Facing another team, especially one as talented across the board as the Rams, helps answer that question.
“A lot of the 1-on-1’s and the pass rush, we’ll get different matchups, see different people,” Gruden said of what we can expect to see. “It’ll be a good eye-opening experience for the young players and other than that we’ll have situations; two-minute drill. We’ll have some red zone. We’ll have some second-and-longs and third-down situations, much like we’ve done here. So, it will be fun to see some different fronts, see some different coverages and see some different players.”
The Raiders and Rams take the field together at 10 AM today for their first joint practice. They will do it again tomorrow. Then after an off day on Friday, the two teams will take the field at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood for their second of three preseason games.
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