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Pierce sets tone for camp before Raiders break: ‘You come prepared’

Updated June 13, 2024 - 1:05 pm

Antonio Pierce canceled the Raiders’ final minicamp practice Thursday as a thank you to his players.

The next time they will gather as a full team will be for training camp in late July in Costa Mesa, California. That’s when the Raiders’ outlook for next season will start to come into focus.

Pierce, the team’s first-year coach, did deliver one last message to his players before they split up: Be prepared to hit the ground running in training camp.

“We’re not going backward,” Pierce said. “It is on you to come here in the physical shape. It’s on you to be ready mentally and emotionally. But more importantly, understanding the playbook. Because we’re going forward with whoever can understand the playbook.”

Laggards will not be tolerated.

“It’s not about (what) draft pick (you were). It’s not about money. It’s not about status,” Pierce said. “We’re going with the guys that put in the time and commitment to do what we want to do over the next six months. And that’s to do one thing and one thing only, and that’s to win. And I want winners. Winners never stop working.”

Pierce did ask his players to take some time to unwind after concluding an offseason program that began in April. But that comes with a caveat.

“You can decompress, but I didn’t say stop working,” Pierce said.

Up and down offseason

The Raiders, as expected, had good days and bad days the last three months. Most of the bad days came courtesy of the offense, which is learning a new system under first-year offensive coordinator Luke Getsy. The Raiders are also still deciding whether veteran Gardner Minshew or second-year pro Aidan O’Connell will be their starting quarterback next season.

“I don’t think the offense is behind,” Pierce said. “I think the offense is where every team that has a new offensive coordinator and head coach is at right now. I don’t think I ever heard a team that said, ‘Man, the offense is way ahead of the defense right now, in June.’ It’s going to be the opposite. It’s always the defense is ahead of the offense.”

Things were even more difficult for the offense because Getsy threw the whole playbook at the Raiders. The information overload resulted in some of the struggles the team experienced.

“I don’t care what offense you’re with, there’s gonna be some up and down days,” Pierce said. “It’s the learning curve.”

Pierce said Getsy and his staff will begin whittling down the playbook between now and training camp.

They’ll stick with plays that highlight the Raiders’ strengths. They’ll eliminate some concepts the team is struggling with. Pierce’s philosophy is “less is more.” He doesn’t want to stick with things the Raiders don’t look equipped to execute. But that doesn’t mean he wants players to give up on plays that didn’t work in minicamp.

“It’s on us as coaches to take out the things that we just can’t get right,” Pierce said. “But it’s also up to you as players to get it right. To study the playbook. To come back July 23rd more dialed in. More focused. More of an understanding of what to expect. What the calls are. The vocabulary. That’s your job. You’re a pro football player. You come prepared come July 23.”

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

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