By Alan Snel of LVSportsBiz.com
They came to practice away with shoulder pads, and that was a big deal for Raiders players who are just eight days away from a preseason exhibition game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. in Canton, Ohio.
There were many members of the media lined up on the side of the grass field, one of three training grounds next to the Las Vegas Raiders HQ here in South Henderson, about four miles east of Las Vegas Boulevard and Interstate 15. At 8:35 a.m., media had 30 minutes to take photos and video. Those are the rules of first-year Raiders coach Josh McDaniels, who comes from the New England Patriots lifestyle.
There were season ticket holders sitting in the shade under tents and security patrolling the area, advising the media to stay away from golf carts moving fans.
Before the media left for practice, Raiders sponsor Credit One Bank said it was entering the second year of the partnership.
The Raiders brought in three coaches and a coach to speak to the media in a room off the side of the team’s HQ building. The media are asking players and coaches questions, like special teams coach Tom McMahon, who came to visit us today.
McMahon said he wanted “hard-working people” who understood “leverage.” He seemed to like the word “leverage”. Funny, I had a former editor in Tampa who was obsessed with that same word and added “leverage” to every story.
McMahon replaced former Raiders special team coordinator Rich Bisaccia.
Next in the media room was wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, a seven-year NFL veteran from Florida who was signed after playing for division rival Kansas City.
“This (the Raiders’ offense) could be as explosive as any offense in the league,” Robinson said.
Then came punter/funny AJ Cole, one of the league’s top punters and a free-spirited talker who joked about everything from him looking more and more like placekicker Daniel Carlson to goofy statements by Mack Hollins.
When it comes to punts, Cole said he works on “directional punting” to push the ball past the numbers.
“I feel good where I am right now,” Cole said.
He said he was trying to build trust with new special teams coach McMahon.
Cole joked that there will be no special teams tackling jokes on the first day players wear pads.
Cole mentioned he’s a “sneaky museum guy,” so he can’t wait to see the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, where the Raiders play Jacksonville in a week from Thursday. He said his three favorite museums were in Florence, Italy; Air & Space in Washington, DC; and a Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum (before a Raiders away game against the Steelers.)
Cole expects the football room to replace the western Pennsylvania one in his top 3 museums, but the punter politely quipped, “No offense to Pennsylvania.”
Enjoy a bit of Cole’s humor here:
After Cole was his buddy, placekicker Carlson.
“I’m not the funny guy, he’s him,” Carlson said of his pal, punter Cole.
“Every year is a new year and I have to prove myself,” Carlson said.