Raiders defensive backs coach Jason Simmons has some effective practice tools at his disposal as he works with the team’s young secondary.
The Raiders’ talented corps of pass catchers.
Simmons, also the defensive passing game coordinator, said a group that includes stars Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller has given his charges great work as the Raiders installed a new system during organized team activities and minicamp.
“I love it,” he said after a practice. “I just smile immediately, because when you think about it, to go against these guys, to take your lumps, to go out there and make plays, hopefully that just gives these guys confidence that they can play at a high level. It’s a great opportunity to play against such talent on the other side.”
It’s not the first time Simmons has dealt with Adams in practice. He started his coaching career in Green Bay, working with the defensive backs in 2018 and 2019 when Adams was with the Packers.
It was then that Simmons first worked with new Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who was the linebackers coach and run game coordinator.
Graham brought Simmons to Las Vegas after he was hired by Josh McDaniels, and Simmons is excited about the reunion.
“The first thing is Pat is a really smart man,” Simmons said. “You see him on the field, and he’s passionate about football. … I wanted to come somewhere where I was able to learn, to gain and grow my career. Working with (McDaniels and Graham), that’s what this opportunity is giving me.”
Simmons, 46, spent the past two seasons as the defensive backs coach and passing game coordinator for the Panthers, where he helped Carolina to a top-five finish against the pass in 2021.
The Inglewood, California, native spent 10 seasons in the NFL as a safety after a standout career at Arizona State.
He has a pretty deep group of safeties to work with, including second-year incumbent starter Tre’von Moehrig and veterans Johnathan Abram and Duron Harmon.
“The first thing when I think about the group is just versatility,” Simmons said. “You have so many guys that are so athletic. … It’s going to be a lot of competition in that room, and they realize it.”
Like safety, the cornerback position has an intriguing mix of young and veteran players with diverse skill sets.
Trayvon Mullen has been solid when healthy, and the team traded for Rock Ya-Sin to play opposite him. There are roles still to be carved out among players such as Nate Hobbs and Amik Robertson.
Hobbs excelled in the slot as a rookie and could lock down a similar role in this scheme, though like most of the defensive backs, he could be used in a variety of ways.
The depth of talent and versatility could lead to intriguing positional battles in training camp.
“It’s like everybody has (a clean slate),” Simmons said. “It’s good to have veteran guys in there that have done it before, but everybody knows whether you’ve played in the league before or fresh out of college, this is going to be an opportunity because it’s a new scheme for everybody.”