Yesterday, the 2018 Raiders wore pads for the first time in camp. Now, many will not see that as a big deal. Yet, that pop after the snap signals the beginning of preseason. With so much on the line for Oakland, the ability to build a quality roster remains the number one goals. Teams enter the preseason with dreams, hopes, and ambition. However, the Oakland Raiders enter with expectation, stress, and pressure.
Now, the clipboard holder may not appear as a source of much stress. On the other hand, we all remember what happened on those two occasions that Carr fractured bones. In 2016, Carr fractured his leg and Connor Cook started a playoff game that ended horrifically. Next, Carr broke three small bones in his back and EJ Manuel guided Oakland to another loss. While Cook and Manuel did not acquit themselves well, 2018 appears much rosier for them. Under Gruden, the Raiders offense will thrive with better schemes and playcalling.
For the entirety of the offseason, coaches praised Kolton Miller. For anyone still suffering nightmares of the UCLA/Memphis game, the time to let go is now. During the preseason, Miller, with Donald Penn out will see his share of the work on the left side. As a result, Miller faces immediate pressure to step in and succeed. Although many considered him a reach at 15, Miller will need to shake the nerves and get to work. Behind his play, the immediate future of the Raiders exists. Knowing Jon Gruden, the ability to pound the ball will serve as the biggest point of emphasis in 2018. To his credit, Kelechi Osemele seems excited about the rookie.
If you watched the fan reaction during the first camp day, the buzz feels electric. For the first time in a while, the Raiders possess a feeling of actual hope. Granted, similar feelings existed after a 12-4 season. In contrast, the air surrounding the Raiders feels unique. Despite various media automatically predicting a losing season, fans appear to feel rather optimistic. Now, these are not the irrational ones, but the realistic, astute ones that know the game. Their excitement feels genuine and earnest.
In essence, when the Raiders started camp, a mythical clock began. Over the next few seasons, many expect or demand the team reach lofty heights. When the pads pop, the speculation could stop.