If anyone in the Raiders’ locker room was in need of a fresh start, it’s probably Hunter Renfrow.
The wide receiver, whose role has been greatly diminished this season, agreed with that assertion.
But he also knows that while coach Josh McDaniels was replaced by Antonio Pierce on an interim basis, there are no guarantees his season will turn around.
“I still have to take advantage of it,” Renfrow said. “You only get one mulligan. But I’m excited to go out there and just be myself again.”
Renfrow caught 103 passes in 2021 and was expected to be a featured part in McDaniels’ offense considering how much success slot receivers had in his New England system. Instead, injuries and inconsistency plagued Renfrow last season when he had just 36 catches and made one start in 10 games.
A bounce-back was expected after a good training camp, but his lack of usage in the offense has been baffling. He has 10 catches for 92 yards in eight games.
Renfrow’s route share, target share and snap counts are all down as he appeared to have fallen out of favor with McDaniels.
That could change now that the Raiders have a new coach. Renfrow certainly liked what he heard when Pierce held his first meeting with players Wednesday morning.
“That went really well,” Renfrow said. “I think (Pierce) just let us kind of be ourselves and let our hair down. Just have fun playing football again and not just walk on eggshells everywhere. Just go out there and enjoy playing like we’re kids.”
The “walking on eggshells” reference could be seen as a direct shot at the culture created by McDaniels, but Renfrow avoided taking aim, even if it may have been understandable considering his situation.
“There were things McDaniels did really well,” Renfrow said. “I’m not going to sit here and say he was a bad coach, because he was very good and had success as an (offensive coordinator) and that sort of deal. But I think with AP, being a player and just having a different energy is just different.”
Fullback Jakob Johnson and linebacker Luke Masterson remain in concussion protocol and were not able to participate in the Raiders’ first practice of the week Thursday.
Right tackle Thayer Munford was also listed as a non-participant due to a neck injury, and Divine Deablo remains out due to an ankle injury.
Linebacker Robert Spillane was a limited participant with a hand injury after being listed as a non-participant on Wednesday, when it was an estimated report because the team didn’t practice.
Running back Brandon Bolden was added to the report as a limited participant with a knee injury after not appearing on Wednesday.
Cornerback Nate Hobbs (ankle), kicker Daniel Carlson (right groin) and defensive end Maxx Crosby (knee/ankle) were all limited both days.
The Raiders will not have the chance to play against former teammate Darren Waller on Sunday when the Giants visit Allegiant Stadium.
Waller, who played for the Raiders the previous five seasons, has been ruled out with a hamstring injury. He leads the Giants with 36 catches and 384 yards this season.
The Raiders signed veteran linebacker Jaylon Smith on Thursday with the team thin at the position because of the injuries to Deablo and Masterson.
Smith, 28, was on the Saints’ practice squad. He has played five seasons and made the Pro Bowl with the Cowboys in 2019.
The Raiders have parted ways with senior vice president and chief operating officer Mike Newquist, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed Thursday.
Newquist was hired in August. No reason for his dismissal was given.