Gruden tight-lipped on team’s progress as Raiders close camp

LAS VEGAS (AP) — It wasn’t exactly the Family Day the Las Vegas Raiders would have preferred but close to 200 COVID-tested family members were socially distanced on one side of Allegiant Stadium as the team went through drills on the final day of camp Friday.

The players will now get most of the weekend off before the Raiders begin to prepare for the season opener at the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 13.

Raiders coach Jon Gruden remained tight-lipped about how the team is doing.

“No one knows unless I tell them,” Gruden said. “We don’t have access to study anybody else’s players, honestly, so why should we go out and tell anybody who’s doing well and who isn’t? I’m not going to give anybody any billboard material.

“We’re a young team and we’re improving. Our guys are working hard. Our young draft choices, a couple of them, have taken steps forward. A couple of them we’re still waiting on. But we are getting better, and I’m proud of the way our guys are working together on the practice field every day.”

Las Vegas comes into the season heavily invested in its offensive line, having spent the most money in the NFL on the front line with hopes of better protecting Derek Carr in what could be a make-or-break season for the seventh-year quarterback. With a stacked receiving corps and a healthy Josh Jacobs bursting out of the backfield, anything less than a playoff berth might be deemed a disappointing season, considering there is an extra wild-card available.

General manager Mike Mayock said this week that he’s been pleased with the way Carr has taken hold of the Raiders. The development of Carr and his deep receiving corps has been evident throughout camp, including Friday, when his timing with rookie receiver Henry Ruggs III looked impeccable.

“The bottom line with most things is that we compete,” Mayock said. “If you can give a coach or a GM a compliment, that’s the highest compliment you can give them — is your kids compete. And that’s what I think we’re seeing. We got to get better. When Jon and I started this thing together that’s what we talked about. That was pretty much our number one goal, we got to compete. Our kids have to compete. We believe we’re slowly getting to where we want to go.”

Gruden mixed in several of his backup players with the starters Friday to see how they would react and said he will take time over the weekend to review film and assess which second-unit players responded well.

“This is a time where everything is winding down,” Gruden said. “One of the things you gotta be careful of right now is what you say. We’re just gonna kind of keep our lips tight and say we’ve had a very competitive camp and we’re seeing progress. We’re going to have to meet as a staff, make some tough decisions.”

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