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Raiders have new energy in 1st practice against the Rams

Breven Honda

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For the first time this preseason – and first since 2019 – the Raiders were not practicing in Las Vegas this week. Instead, the Silver and Black are in Los Angeles today for their 1st practice against the Rams in preparation of Saturday’s game at Sofi Stadium.  

Defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson said today’s goal was to continue to practice with the same energy, despite being in Los Angeles compared to Las Vegas.  

“Honestly, we were just trying to have the same carry-over it’s been in Vegas in practice,” Jefferson said. “We wanted to show them how we practice and how we get after it. That’s literally how it’s been. We wanted for it to be the same. Just be us, didn’t want to do anything different and keep that same intensity.

“It may have been a change of scenery, but we still came out the same. So that was mission accomplished.”

Practicing on a different field and in a new city gave the players a new energy, especially wide receiver Hunter Renfrow because he does not have to say a play where his own teammates on defense know the play.

“We’re not audibling to an audible to a different play and (linebacker Nick Morrow) is running across the field because he knows the play,” Renfrow said. “It’s nice to be able to communicate without having to code and do all these certain things.

“Going against people who might set up a different way, who might play it a little different because obviously defenses in the NFL are different and so, as much experience, as much fastballs being thrown at us, will get us ready for whatever is to come.”

1st practice against the Rams

With team drills taking place between both squads, it led to competition amongst players.

Renfrow said the banter started early but identifies the difference between executing plays and going after players.  

“It is what you make it,” Renfrow said. “If you want to talk crap and get in each other’s faces, there’s definitely people that are going to do the same thing back. But, if you want to get in good work and kind of zone them out, there’s room for that too. It was weird because we started with red zone 7-on-7 early, jumping right into the mix.”

Raiders’ offense challenged in 1st practice against the Rams

One of the key things about the Rams is their defense, led by lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Both were named to last year’s Pro Bowl team.

Renfrow and Ramsey were on each other throughout the 1st practice against the Rams. There were plays when Renfrow beat Ramsey and vice versa.

Running back Josh Jacobs took a hit from Ramsey and his helmet flew off. A few plays later, Renfrow beat Ramsey on a long pass.  

The 5-foot-10 wide receiver said he took advantage of the 1st practice against the Rams because he had to go against one of the best cornerbacks in the league.

“That’s the beauty of it,” Renfrow said. “If I can beat Jalen Ramsey, then I can beat anyone in the NFL because he’s one of the best and that’s how I approach it. He got me a few times today and so hopefully tomorrow, we’ll make each other better tomorrow.”

In the pocket, quarterback Derek Carr got many opportunities under center without prepping to face the Rams’ defense.

“Every rep that you take today, you don’t know what they’re doing,” Carr said. “I didn’t watch film on them. Usually, I have a week to get ready for a defense. I took no hours getting ready for these guys because it’s just training camp.”

Because Carr did not have any video on the Rams, it gave him the opportunity to read defenses as the play was happening.

Carr said facing opponents other than his teammates on defense put him situations to evaluate how certain throwing options look.

“It was exciting because I like to go into it with coach saying, ‘Hey, we’re feeling this way about these plays and you’re going to have to make it right or check to something,’” Carr said. “It’s good to see if our rules hold up. I’m looking to make sure all of the checks that I have to see it work against different coverages. There was a similar coverage and if I cut it loose with Jalen Ramsey cutting a route that I’m used to cutting loose in practice.”

Leatherwood and Donald go head-to-head

The offensive line was going up against Donald, a seven-time Pro-Bowler and six-time All-Pro in the 1st practice against the Rams. When the opportunity arose for Donald to be on the right side in front of rookie offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, quarterback Derek Carr shouted a play for Leatherwood and Donald to block one-on-one.

Carr said he was ready all week for the two to face each other because of the benefits it has through video and down the road.

“I slid the O-line to the left just to let Alex have a one-on-one,” Carr said. “Probably not a nice thing for me to do. I did it just to do it. We’ll see how it went on tape. Go ahead buddy, let’s see what’s happens. That’s what’s beautiful about days like this. You get so many different looks, so many different reps that, alright, let’s give the young guy a try.”

The Raiders and Rams face off at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. on Saturday at 7 p.m.