HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — First-year Raiders coach Josh McDaniels rolled out the silver and black carpet for mentor Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
The Patriots practiced at Las Vegas’ facility Monday ahead of a pair of joint practices Tuesday and Wednesday.
“This is magnificent,” Belichick said. “I’ve been to a lot of good facilities and there have been some amazing college facilities, but I’d put this up there against any of them. I mean forget about the amenities, just the fields, the weight room, the offices, the indoor facility, the proximity, the ease of everything; yeah, this is as good as any I’ve seen — better than any I’ve seen.”
The teams will meet in Friday’s preseason finale.
It marks the second straight week of joint practices for the Patriots, who spent last week battling against Carolina. Tempers flared on separate days before New England’s 20-10 preseason win on Friday.
With multiple former Patriots players and coaches following McDaniels to Las Vegas, tensions could be high for New England once again.
“It’s grown men out there, it’s hot, everybody is getting yelled at, there’s going to be a couple fights — that’s football,” Raiders wide receiver Tyron Johnson. “I don’t expect nothing less, but we’re going to try to keep it clean. But it’s football, I can’t make any promises.”
McDaniels said he’s been a part of joint practices before, and he’s found them as a useful tool for coaches and players to evaluate against another system in a controlled environment.
“Our guys are tired of working against each other,” McDaniels said. “That happens at the end of August every year. You see the same faces, you see the same bodies, you see the same schemes. So at some point, there’s a level of you want something different.”
Different faces, sure. But the Raiders might see some of the same things they’ve learned since training camp began last month, considering where McDaniels honed his skills as an offensive coach.
McDaniels began his NFL coaching career in 2001 with the Patriots, serving as the offensive coordinator for a total of 14 seasons. In the middle of his tenure, McDaniels left New England to serve as coach of the Denver Broncos in 2009 and 2010. After spending one year in St. Louis as the offensive coordinator, he returned to the Patriots.
Under McDaniels, the Raiders are 3-0 in the preseason after beating Jacksonville in the Hall of Fame game, followed by wins over Minnesota and Miami in the first two weeks of the exhibition schedule.
Nevertheless, with an offensive line that has used numerous rotations this preseason while trying to find a starting five that can protect quarterback Derek Carr, and a defensive front that still needs work against the run, seeing something different at practice could prove invaluable for a team trying to win the AFC West, one of the best divisions in the NFL.
“I’m very excited for it, I think it’s going be fun,” said offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor, who spent two seasons with the Patriots from 2019-20.
“I’m seeing that they’re bringing a different attitude to it. They’re practicing really hard. I still have a bunch of friends on that team, and I think it’s going to be competitive. I think it’s going to be a really good two days of practice between us. I think all of us are going to get a lot better from going against that competition.”
Belichick said he’ll use this week to tighten some things up while moving forward toward installing certain things, and hopefully getting a few guys back that missed last week.
Belichick also said having joint practices away from home can prove to be beneficial, especially leading into the final preseason game, as it allows players to bond.
“It prepares us for the games we’re going to have on the road this year,” Belichick said. “So, whether it’s the whole travel routine, the operations and support staff, just getting things that you need on the road, whether that’s food, treatment, whatever. So, just trying to pass the time constructively.”
NOTES: The Raiders announced they signed free agent linebacker Tae Davis. ... Las Vegas also acquired a conditional 2024 seventh-round pick via a trade with the Minnesota Vikings for quarterback Nick Mullens.
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