The Oakland Raiders hit the practice field at their Alameda, Calif., facility this morning and kicked off the third and final week of Organized Team Activities (OTAs). The team wraps up the off-season program with a full-team, mandatory mini-camp next week.
With all of the new players the Raiders have added this off-season through the Draft and free agency, building camaraderie and developing chemistry have been key elements. Defining roles and identifying leaders have also been important.
“We’re looking to identify who are those leaders going to be on the whole team. Those are the things that have got to come out as we finish up these OTAs, mini-camp and we get into training camp,” Head Coach Dennis Allen said.
One of the players acquired during the off-season is stepping into a leadership role by virtue of his position and his nature. LB Nick Roach is becoming the “quarterback of the defense” and Coach Allen likes what he sees out of the former Chicago Bear. “Nick’s highly intelligent and he’s athletic and so he’s done a nice job of kind of being the quarterback of our defense,” Coach Allen said. “He’s kind of taken on that role and really has a passion about really leading that team.”
Roach told Raiders.com’s Jeanette Thompson that his exact position has yet to be determined but he is working on key aspects of the defense. “I think I just focus on communication being clear. If everybody isn’t on the same page, it has no chance of working,” Roach said.
Offensively, the Raiders are looking for a big season from explosive running back Darren McFadden. “Everybody has one goal in mind and that’s going out there and winning. There’s a lot of hungry guys, so you have to go out there and eat,” McFadden said. The sixth-year man out of Arkansas says that it’s been a challenge to learn the new names and faces. “There’s a lot of new faces. Some guys it’s been taking a long time trying to learn everybody’s name,” McFadden added.
Coach Allen identified FB Marcel Reece as one particular player who has emerged as a leader recently. “I think some of the other guys that have stepped up and taken on a little bit more of a leadership role,” Coach Allen said. “A guy like a Marcel Reece is a guy that comes to mind. That was one of our challenges to him this year.”
McFadden has developed a close relationship with his lead blocker. “I love working with Marcel. We’re like best friends on and off the field so we just come along great. We’re out there looking out for each other on the field,” McFadden said.
One new player McFadden doesn’t have to learn about is QB Matt Flynn. Their familiarity dates back to their SEC days when Flynn won a national title with LSU. McFadden likes what he sees from his old college rival. “It’s good to be on the same side as him now. I’m looking forward to it,” McFadden said. “He does a great job. He gets in there, takes control of the huddle, puts guys in the right position on the field and that’s something you need out of a quarterback.”
Flynn, acquired in a trade with the Seattle Seahawks, has been settling in, learning the offense, developing timing with the receivers and asserting himself as a leader. “We’re doing some good things out there. We’re getting more comfortable with each other and comfortable with being out on the field and playing,” Flynn said. “I think if you take a look at guys who are leaders on the team and quarterbacks around the league, everybody has a different leadership style.”
Raiders players will continue to learn to play together and develop chemistry and timing through six more on-field sessions prior to the five-week break before the team reports to training camp in Napa, Calif.
Tags: Darren McFadden, FB Marcel Reece, Head Coach Dennis Allen, LB Nick Roach, Matt Flynn, Oakland Raiders, offseason, OTAs
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