Raiders End Minicamp With Questions At Quarterback, Offensive Line And Cornerback

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) and quarterback Aidan O'Connell (12) warm up during an NFL football practice Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Henderson, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Gardner Minshew (15) and quarterback Aidan O'Connell (12) warm up during an NFL football practice Wednesday, June 12, 2024, in Henderson, Nev. (AP Photo/John Locher)
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HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Even if outside expectations for the Raiders are modest at best, there has been energy inside the team's headquarters because of the strong buy-in of players remaining in Las Vegas during the offseason.

That included the voluntary organized team activities followed by mandatory minicamp, which ended Wednesday after Thursday's scheduled practice was canceled.

“I feel like everybody wants to be out here, if you can believe it or not,” cornerback Nate Hobbs said. “Some people don’t want to be in cold Buffalo or Green Bay.”

That might be true, but the Raiders also want to be where the Bills and Packers have been regularly in recent years — playing in the postseason. Las Vegas went 8-9 last season.

To at least get in the conversation for the playoffs, the Raiders have some significant questions to answer when they open training camp July 23 in Costa Mesa, California.


The Raiders signed free agent Gardner Minshew to a two-year contract to compete with Aidan O'Connell, who as a rookie started the second half of last season.

The main argument for O'Connell to retain the job is Las Vegas went 5-4 after he became the full-time starter, and he showed improved decision-making in throwing eight touchdown passes with no interceptions over final four games. But O'Connell hasn't proven he is willing to take chances often enough to elevate an offense.

“You’re starting to see more of him versus just the shell of a rookie trying to do everything by the book," wide receiver Davante Adams said. "He was doing a lot of good things last year, so I don’t want to say I haven’t seen any elevation. He was doing it especially toward the end.”

Like O'Connell, Minshew has shown flashes off the bench, nearly taking the Indianapolis Colts to the playoffs last season when forced into action early. He is more mobile than O'Connell and possesses more of a proven history, but Minshew has struggled with consistency. That's why he hasn't earned a starting job elsewhere.

“He's always been the underdog,” defensive end Maxx Crosby said. "You see him walk out of the building or walk down the street, you wouldn’t even know he’s a football player. But when he laces it up on Sundays, you can see what he can do. His numbers stack up with a lot of guys you wouldn’t even expect.”

Offensive line

The offensive front is largely intact, but that doesn't mean there aren't questions.

At right tackle, Thayer Munford replaces Jermaine Eluemunor, who signed with the New York Giants. Munford is confident about whether he's capable of effectively stepping into that spot.

“I know what I can do, and the team knows what I can do, so they trust in me right now,” Munford said. “I’m not going to let anybody down.”

He was put to the test in minicamp trying to block Crosby. It didn't always go well.

“Maxx Crosby going against Munford is going to do nothing but make Munford a better player,” coach Antonio Pierce said. “Munford can’t have a bad day, he can’t have a bad rep, because I’m not slowing Maxx Crosby down.”

Another question involves second-round pick Jackson Powers-Johnson, who played center at Oregon but is working at left guard. He hurt his shoulder and did not participate in OTAs over the final two weeks that reporters were allowed to watch.

Powers-Johnson was on the field in minicamp on the second team behind Cody Whitehair, who started 118 games over the past eight seasons with the Chicago Bears.

“I wish we could have spent more time with (Powers-Johnson), but we’ll catch up during training camp,” offensive line coach James Cregg said. "But he’s a really, really bright kid, understands it, catches on quickly. We’ve just got to really get him in the process of doing our offense. Our offense takes a lot of reps to master as far as technique goes.”


Losing Amik Robertson in free agency to the Detroit Lions created quite a void. He had four interceptions and started 19 games the past two seasons, part of a strong secondary that included fellow cornerbacks Hobbs and Jack Jones.

“We definitely lost a star,” Hobbs said. “I don’t think (others) give him enough credit. Whether he’s at the corner, nickel, he’ll make his presence felt in the NFL at a high level. He’s one of those dudes. The Lions got a steal, if you ask me."

Brandon Facyson has been working in Robertson's old spot. Jakorian Bennett, drafted last year in the fourth round out of Maryland, has been with the second-teamers.

The Raiders also could consider Decamerion Richardson, drafted this year in the fourth round out of Mississippi State, or consider looking into free agency.