Las Vegas Raiders OTAs: Biggest takeaways from second open practice

The Las Vegas Raiders held their second open practice of organized team activities on Wednesday, meaning the media got the opportunity to film and document the session, which was the fifth overall of Raiders OTAs.

With the media in attendance, we got to see the players in action and hear from them, as well as some of the coaches.

Putting too much stock into OTAs is foolish, as many of Las Vegas’ starters didn’t participate in this practice or last week’s open practice. Despite this, there are still a ton of noteworthy storylines to pay attention to from Las Vegas’ open practice.

Just in case you missed anything from the session, you can check out a full recap with news, videos, and quotes right here. Now, the takeaways.

Raiders OTAs takeaways

Defense wins the day

The Raiders quarterback competition between Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew is heating up. Both quarterbacks saw plenty of work with the starters but struggled to capitalize on equal opportunity. Something to keep an eye on as OTAs and offseason workouts progress. 

Las Vegas’ defense is its strength going into 2024, so it’s probably going to win more than it loses this offseason. Nevertheless, it’s notable.

There was some positive quarterback news from Levi Edwards of Raiders.com, though:

Aidan O’Connell’s pocket presence continues to improve with a quick release to his targets, while Gardner Minshew II effortlessly buys time with his feet to break down coverages.

JPJ not practicing after leaving last week

The rookie offensive lineman left last week’s practice early with an undisclosed injury and didn’t practice Wednesday, according to Tashan Reed of the Athletic. The second-round pick will be a pivotal piece to the Raiders’ offensive line in 2024, so let’s hope this injury is just a minor setback.

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Kolton Miller still rehabbing?

Also per Reed, offensive tackle Kolton Miller didn’t practice today after spending all of last week’s practice working off to the side. The 28-year-old still seems to be rehabbing an undisclosed injury. Miller allowed four sacks and 16 QB pressures in 2023 and is one the better left tackles in the NFL.

Who else didn’t practice?

Along with Powers-Johnson and Miller, players who did not participate included wide receivers Davante Adams, Michael Gallup, Jalen Guyton, Jeff Foreman, and Tulu Griffin, defensive tackles Matthew Butler, Nesta Jade Silvera and Marquan McCall, cornerback Cornell Armstrong, and linebacker Darien Butler. Adams, Gallup, Guyton, Griffin, Butler, and Jade Silvera also didn’t participate in last week’s practice.

Who returned to practice?

Based on the reported list, running backs Zamir White and Ameer Abdullah, cornerback Jack Jones, and defensive lineman Ron Stone Jr. all returned after not participating last week. White and Jones are projected starters for the Raiders in 2024, while Abdullah and Stone Jr. will be fighting for depth positions in training camp.

Thayer Munford shines

Per Edwards:

There are a lot of questions surrounding who will take over at right tackle, and Thayer Munford Jr. is making a strong case for himself. He had an exceptional day of practice in team period and individual drills, and a potential leap in Year 3 could be on the horizon.

Brock Bowers shows off versatility

From Levi Edwards of Raiders.com:

Brock Bowers could be seen doing a little bit of everything Wednesday morning. The tight end lined at in multiple spots in similar fashion to what he was accustomed to doing at Georgia, showcasing both his pass catching and rushing abilities. Overall, it was a good day for the tight end room, with big gains from Michael Mayer and John Samuel Shenker.

Praise for Antonio Pierce, Maxx Crosby

Assistant head coach Marvin Lewis spoke to the media today and commended head coach Antonio Pierce.

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“He’s in tune with the pulse of the football team,” Lewis said. “He knows how to get his players to the gate.”

Pierce is entering his first full year as an NFL head coach in 2024, as he served as the interim head coach for the Raiders after the firing of Josh McDaniels last year. Las Vegas went 5-4 with Pierce at the helm in 2023.

Lewis also had high praise for Pro-Bowl edge rusher Maxx Crosby, who tallied 14.5 sacks and 94 QB pressures in 2023. Lewis compared Crosby to several legendary players he has been around, including Bruce Smith, Darrell Green, Champ Bailey, Shannon Sharpe, Ray Lewis and J.J. Watt.

“I see a driven player,” Lewis said. “You see guys that become at the pinnacle… of their game and how they go about their business each and every day.” “You can set your watch by Maxx Crosby now. Somebody said it would be easy to assassinate him because you know where he’s going to be at all times,” Lewis added with a laugh. “He’s phenomenal.” 

“I’ve been watching how these guys who have become Hall of Fame players how they go about their day, each and every day, and Maxx has those qualities,” he concluded. 

Crosby’s extraordinary play on the field and leadership in the locker room have made him a fan-favorite and one of the best players in the NFL. The 26-year-old’s relentless pursuit and work ethic are already catching the attention of Marvin Lewis.

Good vibes in the building

Zamir White: “These guys want it. Offense, defense, there’s no dragging around the building. It’s guys wanting to come to work and grind with us. We’re really on right now.”

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Jack Jones: “I’m excited. Y’all see the energy we’re bringing out there. It’s different, you could feel it. I think with that pressure and teams feeling that swag, that team camaraderie that we got, I think that’s going to break teams by itself.”

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