Digital Team Reporter
Things are starting to heat up – literally and figuratively – at the third practice of 2022 Training Camp for the Raiders.
There was a good crowd of Raider Nation fans at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center on Saturday morning. And while things are still relatively quiet at practice as pads don’t come on until Tuesday, it’s still delightful to have football in the air out in the desert. With another practice in the books, here’s what stood out from camp as the week nears the end.
In the position breakdown for linebackers before the start of Training Camp, I told you guys to look out for Darien Butler.
Butler is an undrafted rookie free agent from Arizona State, who racked up three interceptions and nearly 70 tackles his senior season. The biggest knock on Butler coming out of college was his lack of size to play linebacker, yet he showed some flashes today of what he can do in a game.
Butler showed off his coverage skills during 11-on-11 and 7-on-7 drills today, even nabbing an interception during practice. It also doesn’t hurt that he has his Arizona State defensive coordinator Antonio Pierce in his ear on the sideline, as Pierce now serves as the Silver and Black’s linebackers coach.
While it’s still only the third day of Training Camp practice, this could go a long way in building confidence for Butler as he tries to make the roster.
A player that’s starting to show his maturation during Training Camp is Alex Leatherwood.
He’s been moved around a few places on the offensive line, as the coaching staff tests each players’ versatility. Nevertheless, Leatherwood has shown fluidity and improvement in his footwork from last year. Josh Jacobs has enjoyed the improvement he’s seen in his teammate as well.
“I just see ‘Wood working his butt off every day,” Jacobs said Saturday. “He’s one of the first guys out there at the beginning of practice working on his sets and things like that. I remember having a talk with him, telling him, ‘If you keep putting in the work, everything else is going to pay off for itself.’
“I’m excited to see what he’s going to do this year.”
NBC Sports writer Peter King stopped by practice Saturday morning, and I got a few moments to speak with the three-time National Sportswriter of the Year to pick his brain about the Raiders this upcoming season.
From King’s viewpoint, the biggest storylines coming out of Training Camp include what Alex Leatherwood’s role will be in this new offense, and who will be the starting wideout opposite of Davante Adams. King said he’s personally “bullish on Mack Hollins,” stating he believes the former Dolphins receiver is capable of being thrust into that role.
“Everybody kind of looks at the Raiders and thinks there really isn’t a place for another wide receiver to get touches, but I don’t think that’s the case at all,” said King. “In the NFL today, you better have a really good third and fourth receiver for injury reasons and because they’re going to play a lot of snaps. Derek Carr is going to throw to the guy who’s open. So, I think that is going to be an interesting thing, looking at guys like Keelan Cole, and Hollins, Demarcus Robinson. I think that’s a big story here.”
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Digital Team Reporter