The Las Vegas Raiders are literally feeling the heat in offseason workouts.
Jon Gruden’s talented Raiders were already on the hot seat after missing the playoffs in four straight seasons. But the latest events in Las Vegas have taken the pressure to a completely new level.
The Raiders changed their practice schedule because of hot temperatures
Nevada is a desert state, and the desert gets very hot in the summertime. Raiders fans didn’t need admission into Mensa to figure that one out.
But the Raiders aren’t taking any chances with the Las Vegas heat. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the team held minicamp practices at 7:30 a.m. local time because of the weather. Had they practiced in the afternoon, the Raiders would have worked in temperatures approaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Naturally, some on social media wondered why the team couldn’t practice inside. However, the Raiders are still in the offseason and have a 90-man roster. The Review-Journal reported there is not enough space at the full-length indoor field or the indoor half-field for that many players.
Teams take far more precautions now when hot weather is involved
When the Raiders moved from California to Nevada, they knew that they’d have to deal with the hot weather. With that said, the team deserves praise for adjusting on the fly and moving to an early-morning practice.
Teams rightfully try to avoid as many risks as possible on days where the heat is overbearing and even dangerous. Former Minnesota Vikings offensive lineman Korey Stringer died of heatstroke during the team’s preseason camp in 2001. The heat index reached 99 at 11:30 a.m. when practice ended that day.
Football teams began practicing in lighter uniforms and created more areas featuring water and shade at those sessions. When the league adopted a new collective bargaining agreement in 2011, it eliminated two-a-days, the long-running tradition where, as the name implies, teams would practice two or three times in a given day.
Derek Carr and the Raiders face some tough questions
The Raiders shouldn’t expect the proverbial heat to leave even when they start working out in an indoor training facility.
Despite the high expectations which came when Jon Gruden returned as head coach ahead of the 2018 season, the Raiders went 19-29 over the last three years. After a 6-3 start in 2020, the Raiders lost five of their final seven games and finished 8-8.
As of June 2021, the Raiders hadn’t traded quarterback Derek Carr. However, the team drew criticism for several offseason moves, including signing running back Kenyan Drake to a two-year contract worth $14.5 million and selecting Alabama offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood, a projected Day 2 prospect, in the NFL draft’s first round.
Maybe Gruden knows something that his doubters don’t, and he will finally bring the Raiders back to the postseason. They are a motivated team with a proven starting quarterback, but that may not be enough in the talented AFC.
Don’t be surprised to see Gruden have some fun with the media if he proves them wrong. However, we advise him against leaving them to stand in the June heat.