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4 observations from Raiders’ final week of OTAs

The Raiders wrapped up their organized team activity practices this week. All that is left of their offseason is next week’s mandatory minicamp.

Beyond that, training camp awaits in Costa Mesa, California, in July.

Here are four observations from the last week of OTAs:

Bennett earning job

The Raiders began the offseason program needing to fill just one starting job on defense. After OTAs, Jakorian Bennett looks like the favorite to claim that open cornerback job.

Bennett began last season as a starter, but uneven play and a nagging injury eventually prompted the Raiders to replace him with Amik Robertson. Now in his second season, Bennett is getting the majority of the first-team reps in practice and appears to be closing in on joining Nate Hobbs and Jack Jones in the starting lineup.

No longer the rookie getting thrown into the fire, Bennett seems much more comfortable and confident in Patrick Graham’s defensive system.

“He has a way higher understanding of the defense, of Coach Graham and how he calls it, and of the game,” Raiders cornerbacks coach Ricky Manning Jr. said. “So, it’s a little bit slowed down for him now, so now he can really work on that development, and he can really get better at the things he needs to focus on. And he’s doing that, he’s continuing to work.”

Manning indicated that if the season started this week, Bennett would be ready to take the field.

“Heck yeah,” Manning Jr. said. “We still got time to go, though, we still got time to prepare. And every day we’re trying to get better.”

Munford’s firm grip

The assumption throughout free agency and the draft was that the Raiders needed to reach outside their building to fill their right tackle position.

Thayer Munford never paid much mind to all the chatter, and as it turns out, neither did the Raiders.

Munford has been a mainstay at right tackle thus far, and it would be a major surprise if that doesn’t remain the case to start the season.

Now in his third season, Munford is no longer rotating from left tackle to right tackle to right guard as he was his first two seasons. That versatility served him well in a backup role, but it hindered his ability to master one position.

As he digests a new system under offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, he finally has the luxury of focusing.

“Him getting opportunities at one position will only benefit him,” Getsy said.

After playing 521 snaps over his first two seasons, and generally grading out well while playing both tackle spots, Munford has experience to draw on.

“And I know what I can do,” Munford said. “So all I have to do now is actually meet my potential and actually do it and help everybody else out on the team as well.”

Laube carving out role

The Raiders’ drafting of Georgia tight end Brock Bowers reflects their belief that matchup problems created by versatile weapons drive offenses.

You can add rookie running back Dylan Laube to that list.

Drafted in the sixth round out of New Hampshire, Laube has done a little bit of everything during OTAs. From taking handoffs out of the backfield or on fly sweeps, to catching the ball on screens or downfield, Laube is already flashing the versatility the Raiders covet.

It’s what he does with the ball in his hands that could prompt the club to create packages to get him on the field sooner rather than later.

Laube isn’t a burner, but he’s quick, has nimble feet and good vision and plays well in space.

It’s early, but he already looks like a player the Raiders can feature.

Masterson does his job

The Raiders primarily line up in a nickel base defensively. That means taking a linebacker off the field in favor of an extra defensive back.

Robert Spillane and Divine Deablo typically get the majority of the snaps at linebacker. As a result, Luke Masterson’s playing time is limited — and quite frankly, the appreciation for everything he brings to the table.

But Masterson is well-respected in the Raiders’ building.

An undrafted free agent out of Wake Forest in 2022, Masterson played 182 snaps last year and earned an overall defensive grade of 86.9 (out of 100) by Pro Football Focus. Masterson’s snap count made him ineligible for PFF’s final linebacker ratings, but a score of 89.9 is top-10 level.

It’s no surprise, then, how confident the Raiders are in Masterson.

“You’ve got three guys that have played, understand the game and have been productive for us,” Raiders linebackers coach Mike Caldwell said. “So, it’s a pleasure for me being able to come into a room where you have guys that have done the job, understand how to do it. Now we can just work on getting better.”

Contact Vincent Bonsignore at vbonsignore@reviewjournal.com. Follow @VinnyBonsignore on X.

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