The Raiders started their off-season workout program today with “close to 100%” participation, according to Pro Bowl fullback Marcel Reece. Reece, and many of the Raiders key free agents, took to the podium to talk to the assembled media about their expectations for the 2014 season.
The vast majority of the veterans that the Raiders signed in free agency were 30 or over, something that the NFL media has pointed out multiple times in articles about the Raiders off-season. New RB Maurice Jones-Drew addressed the nay-sayers straight away, saying, “You hear, ‘This is a great team, in 2009.’ Whatever.” Jones-Drew added, “Some think we’re other people’s throw aways [so] we’re all fighting for the same thing: respect.”
In fact, every player that was featured on the podium mentioned how they were still seeking respect for their talents.
New Raiders defensive end Justin Tuck fed into this narrative, too, saying, “People say you go to Oakland to see your career die … No man, I’m not looking at it like that.” He added, “Go watch the film last year and tell me I can’t still play the game… I feel like I’m 25.”
New wide receiver James Jones also acknowledged his desire for respect, saying succinctly, “I always have something to prove.”
The Raiders players are setting their sights firmly on playoffs this year. Tuck mentioned that every year there are surprise teams that make playoffs, citing the Chiefs last year, who went from having the first pick in the NFL Draft to being one of twelve teams to make the playoffs in 2013. Tuck said, “[There is] “no reason we can’t be that team this year.”
New defensive end/linebacker LaMarr Woodley added, “We didn’t come here just to play a few more years in the NFL. We came here to win & try to take this team further”
Perhaps the most appropriate quote of the day came from Jones-Drew, who said, “I think our potential is high, but potential doesn’t matter. You have to earn it.”
The team will now begin their off-season workout program with these goals in mind. The off-season workout program is voluntary but it’s obviously important to the Raiders, who have put workout bonuses in many of their contracts this year.
The Raiders will also soon be able to know which teams they’ll need to prepare for early in the season. Oakland, along with the rest of the league and all of the fans, will find out their 2014 schedule tomorrow. The league announced that it will release the schedule tomorrow, Wednesday April 23rd, at 8pm ET/5pm PT.