John Locher / AP
Saturday, Aug. 29, 2020 | 9 a.m.
If the Raiders’ mock game on Friday was any indication of what will happen when the season begins, then rookie receiver Henry Ruggs is the real deal.
Ruggs was everywhere during the team’s tightly managed practice at Allegiant Stadium, hauling in several passes on deep crossing routes and showing off his preternatural speed by pulling away from the secondary for long gains. The dominant performance was a good sign for the No. 11 overall pick from Alabama, who has sparked the offense throughout training camp.
It appeared as though head coach Jon Gruden was intent on making Friday’s session adhere as close to actual game conditions as possible. The team took the field for pregame warmups, then retreated to the locker rooms like a normal game day. They returned for pregame hype and lineup announcements, with the “starters” getting singled out for individual introductions. Some of the players even got into it by waving to the nonexistent crowd as they ran onto the field.
The team then played two timed “quarters” consisting mostly of 11-on-11 work, with some 7-on-7 sprinkled in. It wasn’t a full-contact session, but players were in pads and the action in the trenches got physical at times.
When the horn sounded for halftime, the team went back to the locker room to simulate the flow of a real game. They returned about 12 minutes later and staged a couple “third-quarter” drives before calling it a day.
Ruggs was the most impressive offensive performer, and quarterback Derek Carr was sharp as well. Backup quarterback Marcus Mariota once again missed practice, though Gruden downplayed his injury and said Mariota would probably be back in three to four days.
On the defensive side, interior lineman Maurice Hurst stood out by getting into the backfield consistently. He blew up two running plays for big losses and also pushed the pocket inward on a passing play to the point where it would have resulted in a sack if the action hadn’t been blown dead.
Undrafted rookie Javin White didn’t make a big splash play but still looked solid in his reps at outside linebacker. The former UNLV star got chipped on one rub route, allowing a running back to beat him to the flat for a 15-yard catch-and-run, but other than that he held his own in his quest to make the roster.
The Raiders would have been playing their third preseason game on Friday, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the league to cancel all exhibition games. Las Vegas has two more weeks to prepare for the season opener on Sept. 13 at Carolina.