Take a look at what Raiders Head Coach Josh McDaniels, quarterback Derek Carr and others said throughout the week about the Bolts ahead of their Week 1 matchup:
Head Coach Josh McDaniels
On facing OLB's Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack:
"It's not easy. They're two incredible football players, and again, I can say that about a lot of guys on their team. They have a tremendous amount of talent. This is probably one of the most talented teams we're going to play all year, if not the most talented."
On the Chargers secondary and safety Derwin James, Jr.'s skillset:
"I think their whole secondary is really well coached. (Chargers Head Coach) Brandon [Staley] has always done a great job with that. (Chargers Defensive Coordinator) Renaldo [Hill], I've been with Renaldo before in my career, coached him in Denver. They know exactly what they want the quarterback to see and it's not always what you want to see as a quarterback. So, they do a good job of disguising. They do a good job of holding rotation, false rotation, trying to give the quarterback different looks before the ball is snapped. And really challenging your communication, your reads, your discipline your detail, and then they're really pretty good in coverage. They all match routes well. They can run, they tackle and hit, and they go after the ball. Like I said, this is a really good unit that we're getting ready to play. And, again, we haven't really seen the unit in its entirety yet. So, we know what we're getting ready to deal with and Derwin is certainly an incredible player and has been for a long time. It will be a big challenge for us."
On the Chargers roster and new additions added throughout offseason:
"They deserve a tremendous amount of credit for putting this this group together. I know [General Manager] Tom Telesco and Brandon [Staley] have really worked hard at trying to put together a team in their vision. They've really gone out and tried to make their team better, and they have. I've competed against both of them multiple times, and thankfully never on the same field at the same time. You could kind of put maybe more attention to one than the other, if you will. You got to do a good job. There are no shortcuts around this one, you have to do a good job of using your techniques and playing with good fundamentals. We have to do a good job of trying to get the ball out on time, when we're supposed to. You pick your spots when you're going to try to do something and hold the ball longer, or what have you, based on the play you're trying to accomplish. This is a big challenge. They present a lot of issues offensively on their own and so seeing them on the same field obviously will be difficult, but we're hard at work trying to figure out how to create some offense against their whole group, but they'll definitely be a challenge."
On facing the Chargers in their season opener:
"It'll be a big challenge, they're a really good football team. Obviously have added a lot of new faces through free agency and the draft and we know how good they were last year. Obviously they've improved their football team and this is going to be a big challenge on the road."
On cornerback Asante Samuel, Jr. :
"He's got quick feet. He sees and diagnoses things very quickly when he's around the ball. He's got great ball skills like a receiver, like his dad did. He's a guy that you better be aware of where he's at all times. We have to run good routes. He's very quick twitch at the top of your stems and those types of things to match routes very well. So, our guys have been hard at work studying him and the rest of their secondary, but no question that he's got a bright future."
Quarterback Derek Carr
On how OLB Khalil Mack changes a defense:
"I mean, Khalil – I've always said – he's a Hall-of-Fame player. Playing alongside Joey [Bosa], who I think is one of the best players in all of football. I really respect the way that they both play the game, and the way that they go about their business. Khalil, he's always been one of my best friends, and we always talk it seems like every other week, except when we play each other.
"It's not like, 'Hey, I'm not talking to you this week.' We just don't. I'll see him, I'll talk to him after the game. I'll definitely talk to him during the game, as I always do. He's one of my best friends, so just getting to play against him is cool for me. It's cool for my boys, they know him, and so they'll be watching him and all that stuff. But past that, he's a Hall of Fame-type player. Him and Joey are great rushers in this league and have been for a long time. So, we have our work cut out for us."
Tight End Darren Waller
On what the Chargers secondary 'brings to the table' :
"Versatility, [cornerback] Bryce Callahan can play nickel and outside. They have fronts where [safety] Derwin James is at the nickel, [cornerback] Asante Samuel has all the ability that nickel could ask for, so they can mix those guys up and play different types of personnel groups against us so we switch it up. So, they have a lot of versatility in their secondary, big play ability. Those guys present a challenge."
Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
On quarterback Justin Herbert:
"He's such an impressive quarterback back there in the pocket and then on top of that having the athletic ability and to be able to have the vision down the field. So, that's probably the first thing you talk about because there's explosive plays that are planned and explosive plays that are off schedule. I mean, you just got to keep emphasizing it. But he has plenty of stuff that's not off schedule that he's making plays.
"But we're always focused on the big plays, you start there, how are they getting the ball down the field. So really the emphasis remains the same, defend the deep part of the field and the role the defensive backs have on that and also the pass rushers, they have a job with that too. You let him out of the pocket, now that's extra time to go down the field. Everybody has a role. That's the unique thing about defense in my opinion. There's a lot of grass behind us and we have to find a way to defend it, and everybody has a role, whether it's in the run, the pass. Even the deep ball, the D-line has a role in that, too, you've got to keep him in the pocket."
On running back Austin Ekeler:
"Just knowing a little bit about his background from what I've read, and then what you see on the tape, there's a level of toughness there that I would say that there are not a lot of people on this planet that are as tough as this guy. How he got there, what he's done with his opportunity, I'm always impressed with these young people. People forget, these guys are 25-26, going on 30, and they're the best in the world at what they do. At such a young age, you got to applaud that. To make that decision from wherever the start was, I'm just really impressed with what he does out there on the field and how he got to this point.
"And then you talk about the skill level, I mean, the guy can run, he can catch the ball, he's blocks in pass pro. He's really impressive. They move them all around, so obviously he has some football intelligence in terms of knowing the scheme. And he scores points. And you talk about offensive players, he's a guy that can catch, he can block, he can run. He can run between the tackles; he can run with the ball after catch. I mean, he's just a really impressive player that's definitely not under my radar because he's pretty dynamic and he can do everything right. He can do everything at a high level, which is impressive."
Offensive Coordinator Mick Lombardi
On facing the Chargers defensive unit:
"All the defenses, especially Chargers are so well coached. Brandon Staley does a great job of utilizing his personnel and getting his guys to go and they're always prepared. We've played them the past couple years, whether it's been at the Chargers, or at the Rams, or at my time in New England, and every time you play against them, they're just a well-prepared team. You can tell that their coached well, they're disciplined, and they try and do the right thing and play complementary football, a lot of stuff we preach here. That's a great question because at the end of the day, every game in this league as you go and turn on tape on Monday for a new opponent, you realize that the team you're about to play against is going to present some problems, and you're trying to go attack those the best way possible. This league is very good. Every team is pretty much well coached, and they have a lot of good players. The same thing goes with the Chargers this week."
On the Raiders offensive line facing Bosa and Mack:
"In terms of [Joey] Bosa and [Khalil] Mack, those are two elite pass rushers that we obviously have to be ready for. They do a lot of different things; they move around a lot. Their speed to power, they rush the edge, they play on the inside, they use their hands. Every single time they go to the stadium, teams are trying to take them away, and they're obviously able to get production someway, somehow. We have to be ready for them, and they do a phenomenal job. They're truly well coached, their pass rush is very coordinated. If we do a good job of just following our rules and doing our job, I look forward to watching us play against them."
Check out the best photos from the Chargers Wednesday practice at Hoag Performance Center.
Center Andre James
On what stands out to him about the Chargers:
"You know they got a lot of guys that play hard. We played them obviously twice last year, but they've got a lot of new faces, so we're excited to see what they present to us and just get it going."
On what challenges Mack and Bosa present:
"We've got to be firm in the middle. They've got two great edge rusher, but they also have a lot of good d-linemen in the middle too. I feel like every position we just gotta be inside and out and play our best football."
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