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New Raiders OC Hardegree preparing to call plays for first time

Updated November 3, 2023 - 4:48 pm

New Raiders offensive coordinator Bo Hardegree hasn’t had much time to put his personal stamp on the scheme before he calls plays in an NFL game for the first time Sunday against the Giants at Allegiant Stadium.

He’s more worried about the small details.

“My wife was asking, ‘What is one of the things you fear?’” said Hardegree, who will call plays from the field. “I was like, ‘Well, it’s that button that you’ve got to hit (to speak into the headset).’”

Once Hardegree figures that out, he can turn his attention to trying to jump-start an offense that has been stuck in neutral under coach Josh McDaniels and offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi, who were fired this week.

The Raiders haven’t scored 20 offensive points in a game this season and have just 12 offensive touchdowns in eight games. It’s a difficult task even for an experienced play-caller, but one Hardegree is excited to take on.

“I’d be naive to say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve done this 1,000 times,’” he said. “But yeah, I’ve thought about it, absolutely. Was it a goal of mine when I set out to coach? Absolutely. But what your job is, is do your job the best you can possibly do it. And that’s my mentality since I started coaching back at Duke University. So, that’s just kind of what I believe in.”

Hardegree has only been on the job since Wednesday morning, so tossing out the playbook and starting over would be an impossible task. Hardegree has worked on streamlining some things to be more efficient.

“Changes would be a difficult thing because it’s a short time,” he said. “The most important thing is our players have to execute better, and I’ve got to give them the ability to do that, each and every guy. I really believe it’s all about execution. The answer is sitting in those chairs in there.

“Once that page turned, I had to hit the ground running and take leadership of the offense. Every day has been very productive.”

Pierce embraces moment

Interim coach Antonio Pierce knows all eyes will be on him as he makes his NFL coaching debut Sunday, especially since it’s coming against a Giants team he helped lead to a Super Bowl title as a player.

“It’s surreal,” Pierce said. “I’ll pinch myself on Sunday and relax hopefully (after the game), but like everything else in my life, you take it in strides. You don’t blink, you look it right in the eye, you come to work ready, prepared, do the best you can, give these guys everything I have, expect the same thing from them and don’t make it personal. This is not Antonio Pierce vs. the New York Giants. This is the Las Vegas Raiders vs. New York Giants at home.”

Pierce also understands there will be a learning curve.

“I won’t get everything right. I’m not going to be perfect on Sunday,” he said. “I’ll be lying to you if I said that. But I’m gonna give you everything I’ve got.”

As far as making big decisions, such as when to throw the challenge flag and taking timeouts, he’ll lean on a support system.

“I’m going to really rely on the people in our building,” Pierce said. “Our staff, everybody has a role here. I told them I need you to be at your best because that’s going to help me be at my best.”

Injury report

Four Raiders have been declared out for Sunday’s game, and linebacker Robert Spillane is questionable with a hand injury after being limited in practice Thursday and Friday.

Fullback Jakob Johnson and linebacker Luke Masterson remain in concussion protocol and will not play.

Offensive tackle Thayer Munford (neck) and linebacker Divine Deablo (ankle) are out after not practicing all week.

Johnson is the only fullback on the roster, so his offensive snaps probably will be filled by the tight end group.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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