Following an eventful NFL offseason, the Las Vegas Raiders will finally have a chance to put this revamped squad on display when they host the Seattle Seahawks in the preseason opener.
The Silver and Black are in their second year of being in Las Vegas following the relocation. Unfortunately, their new fandom at Allegiant Stadium has yet to be officially welcomed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Team owner Mark Davis made it clear that he would delay the inaugural opener since full capacity would not be allowed at the stadium. Fortunately, that is no longer the case, and Gruden is pumped.
The Raiders have undergone some significant changes in and around the franchise over the last two years. Even if key starters will likely be held out of the action, Gruden is admittedly excited to be playing in front of fans again.
“It gives you goosebumps. It gets you excited. I don’t think you’re going to see a lot of the players play, unfortunately, because the reality of this is, this is an exhibition game. But to unite with our fans and kickoff football season officially in Las Vegas is something we’re really excited about and something we really take a lot of pride in.”
Gruden’s comments are certainly understandable, considering the Raiders’ boast one of the raucous crowds in the NFL. There is no question that the lack of home-field advantage during the 2020 campaign affected them more than most teams.
It comes as no surprise that Gruden would also mention that key players are likely going to be sitting out of the new, truncated preseason. Health is a top priority for every team, and the Raiders cannot suffer any potential setbacks leading into the 2021 NFL season.
However, Gruden did reveal the two starters that will be getting a good amount of reps in center Andre James and right tackle Alex Leatherwood. Given that these two unproven players will be stepping up into starting roles this season, the team wants them to get accustomed to live-game speed while they still can.
Even if this does carry some risk, it may be more important for James and Leatherwood to find their footing before the real show begins. There is no question that the development between these two up front will continue to be a major storyline moving forward.