The Oakland Raiders have used the 2016 season as a platform for their return to greatness, with expectations rising towards the 2017 season. With the OTAs now underway, head coach Jack Del Rio is beginning to re-implement his business-like mentality, steadily progressing his roster.
Del Rio was awarded a well-deserved contract extension during the offseason, after leading the Raiders to a 12-4 record. Although Del Rio, the Raiders and their fan base weren’t satisfied with the ending, the optimistic outlook sets up a resurgent 2017 season.
The head coach of the Raiders addressed the media following Monday’s practice, touching up on players and their steady progressions. With Marshawn Lynch residing as the current fascination, Del Rio provided an update and stated that Lynch has been excellent thus far, via Kyle Martin of Raiders.com:
“He’s been here like he said he’d be here. Really committed. He said, ‘Coach, this is home for me, so it’s not like I’m going home and I won’t be here.’ He’s committed to being here. He’s excited to be a Raider. We’re excited to have him.”
Lynch, the Oakland native, is the key resonating piece for the Raiders, as a connection between the Oakland faithful. Although fans are still processing the relocation, the Raiders are determined to deliver a championship to the city that has given them everything.
Del Rio also commented on the progression of his third-year receiver, Amari Cooper. With two Pro-Bowl seasons already under his belt, Cooper is emerging into one of the best young receivers in the NFL. In 32 games played thus far, the Florida native has hauled in 155 receptions for 2223 yards, along with 11 touchdowns and 69.5 yards per game.
The Raiders added depth to their receiving options, signing Cordarrelle Patterson and Jared Cook. With Calvin Johnson also coming in a special guest, the receiving core certainly has areas of expertise to learn from and improve upon. When talking about Cooper, Del Rio stated that his receiver is only scratching the surface:
“I know he’s just scratching the surface of what he wants to accomplish in this league. Very prideful. Amari has always been very serious about the game and works hard at everything, really. His conditioning level and understanding what he needs to be able to do to play at a high level. Again, talking and having a guy like Calvin here as we’re getting started in these OTAs, to be able to share some of the insight of what he experienced playing that position is very valuable for us.”
While the Raiders don’t open preseason play for almost two more months, the excitement around the Raiders camp is understandable. Aside from the New England Patriots, the Raiders enter the 2017 season as favorites in the AFC, alongside the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Kansas City Chiefs.