Raiders left tackle Kolton Miller approached his second NFL offseason the same way he approached his first one, focusing on getting stronger and improving his blocking technique. “Keep my feet straight,” he said. “Depth with hips. Staying low, because I’m a tall guy.”
The 6-foot-9-inch Miller, now 24 and in his third NFL season, is continuing to progress as a pass blocker, showing palpable improvement through two games. The former UCLA standout and 2018 first-round pick allowed 102 pressures in his first two years to earn a grade of 59.5 on a scale of 100 from Pro Football Focus.
But he’s allowed only two pressures in 2020, good for a grade of 80.1 — 10th among offensive tackles.
Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable said Miller’s improvements actually began last year, and that his growth is a result of additional experience.
“Nothing is too big for him,” Cable said, noting Miller blocked five different pass rushers against the New Orleans Saints on Monday. “Last year, his technique and belief in himself kind of came into play. Now, he thinks he’s the best left tackle there is in that game at that moment. The confidence piece with experience has happened.”
For the first time on Monday, Miller wasn’t the youngest player on the offensive line after rookie guard John Simpson replaced veteran Richie Incognito. The Raiders placed Incognito on injured reserve Wednesday, meaning more snaps for 23-year-old Simpson alongside Miller.
“I had to step up more to be sure to communicate. Obviously, we hadn’t worked together as much in the week,” Miller said. “It was great. The whole experience was great.”
Veterans anchor receiving corps
Rookie wide receivers Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards get the headlines. But veteran wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Zay Jones have scored the touchdowns.
The veteran duo has helped stabilize the Raiders’ receiving corps, despite limited playing time, as the rookies find their professional footing. Agholor has played only 19 percent of offensive snaps, but scored on a fade pattern in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers. Jones has also only played 19 percent of the snaps, but scored on an out-breaking route in Week 2 against the New Orleans Saints.
“They’ve been a great example to our young receivers,” Las Vegas offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. “We’ve got depth there, which has really been an added bonus. Those guys have really worked well together.”
Ruggs and Edwards are still looking for their first touchdown reception.
Olson thinks it’s only a matter of time before Ruggs and Derek Carr connect on another explosive play, like the 45-yard completion that set up a score during the 34-30 victory over Carolina.
“We’re happy with where he’s at,” Olson said of Ruggs. “There’s probably frustration out there. … but (the big plays will come). It’s just time.”
Offensive linemen Trent Brown (calf) and Denzelle Good (thumb/illness) did not practice for the second consecutive day. Neither did running back Josh Jacobs (hip), linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski (pectoral) or tight end Darren Waller (knee).
Ruggs (knee) was a limited participant Thursday after missing Wednesday’s practice. Defensive end Carl Nassib (illness) returned to practice as a full participant.