ALAMEDA -– Raiders quarterback Derek Carr went on vacation early this winter, but was back in football mode, as he puts it, “before the playoffs even ended.”
Linebacker Khalil Mack didn’t make it that long, mentally at least.
“I can get away, but when I get away, I am still working,” Mack said Monday afternoon. “I can’t help it. I think my dad instilled that in me. He told me that whenever you’re not working, somebody is. I don’t want anybody to outwork me.”
Raiders players have worked out by themselves the past few months. Now they’re coming together. The Raiders officially start their offseason program on Tuesday, but players trickled in on Monday from out of town.
They’ll have a veteran minicamp before April’s end, but this early period is focused on a training regimen orchestrated by strength and conditioning coach Joe Gomes.
“You have to be ready, and that work gets going in the offseason program,” Mack said. “If you’re not ready, you are going to get thrown around out there, so you have to take care of your body every day of the week. You have to think about hydration, stretching, different things like getting massages. Things that you have to take pride in and taking care of your body. I’ve learned that from all of the veteran guys that I’ve been around.”
Players will build up physically and work on improving individual performance, but this is also a time when a team comes together. The Raiders have significant down time during this period, when players build team chemistry. That’s particularly important with increased turnover. The Raiders have added 11 established veterans and have discarded a few team leaders.
“This is really when you become a team, when you start getting all of these added pieces together,” Carr said. “Little things are important, like when you start working out with each other and you see someone push through on a set and you see guys encouraging him to earn that lift. The same can be said when we go out and throw at a random location.
“When we’re pushing each other and teaching each other and all those things, that’s when you become a team. When I set up an event and our whole team shows up and we go do something together, that’s where we start to build it. Last year’s team is done. We’re moving on. Whatever our record was, it is what it is. But now, everyone is 0-0 and our focus is to become the most close-knit team that we can be, while at the same time going out there as a unit and winning football games. So I agree with you, I think this is probably the most important time.”
This is just the beginning of a long offseason program. There are different phases, based on strength and conditioning, individual instruction and team activities. Here are some key dates in the offseason program.
April 7: Raiders offseason program begins
April 21-23: Veteran minicamp (optional)
May 19-21: OTAs
May 26-28: OTAs
June 1-4: OTAs
June 9-11: Minicamp (mandatory)
NOTE: A rookie minicamp will be added shortly after the NFL draft., which lasts from April 30-May 2.