McDaniels welcomes mentor Belichick and Patriots to Vegas

HENDERSON, Nev. — Raiders first-year coach Josh McDaniels rolled out the silver and black carpet for mentor Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.

The Patriots practiced in downtown Las Vegas on Monday before joint practices on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“It’s awesome,” Belichick said. “I’ve been to a lot of good schools and there have been some great schools, but I’d compare this to any of them. I mean forget the amenities, just the fields, the gym, the offices, the indoor facility, the proximity, the ease of everything; yes, it’s as good as anything I’ve seen – better than anything I’ve seen.”

The teams will meet in Friday’s preseason finale.

It’s the second straight week of joint practices for the Patriots, who struggled against Carolina last week. Tempers flared on separate days before New England’s 20-10 preseason win on Friday.

With several former Patriots players and coaches following McDaniels to Las Vegas, tensions could once again be high in New England.

“It’s grown men, it’s hot, everybody’s getting yelled at, there’s going to be a couple of fights — that’s football,” Raiders wide receiver Tyron Johnson. “I expect nothing less, but we will try to keep it clean. But this is football, I can’t promise anything.”

McDaniels said he has participated in joint drills before and found them a useful tool for coaches and players to evaluate against another system in a controlled environment.

“Our guys are tired of working against each other,” McDaniels said. “It happens every year at the end of August. You see the same faces, you see the same bodies, you see the same patterns. So at some point there’s a level of wanting something else.”

Different faces, of course. But the Raiders could see the same thing learned since the start of training camp last month, given where McDaniels has been honing his skills as an offensive coach.

McDaniels began his NFL coaching career in 2001 with the Patriots, serving as the offensive coordinator for a total of 14 seasons. Midway through his tenure, McDaniels left New England to coach the Denver Broncos in 2009 and 2010. After spending one year in St. Louis as the offensive coordinator, he returned to the Patriots.

Under McDaniels, the Raiders are 3-0 in the preseason after beating Jacksonville in the Hall of Fame game and then beating Minnesota and Miami in the first two weeks of the exhibition schedule.

However, with an offensive line that has used numerous rotations this preseason trying to find a starting five that can protect quarterback Derek Carr and a defensive front that still needs work against the run, seeing something different in practice could prove invaluable for a team trying to win the AFC West, one of the best divisions in the NFL.

“I’m really excited about it, I think it’s going to be fun,” said offensive lineman Jermaine Eluemunor, who has spent two seasons with the Patriots since 2019-20.

“I see that they have a different attitude to it. They train very hard. I still have a bunch of friends on this team and I think it will be competitive. I think it will be a very good two days of training between us. I think we’ll all be a lot better off facing that competition.”

Belichick said he’ll use this week to tighten up some things while moving forward to install certain things and hopefully get a few guys back who missed last week.

Belichick also said practicing together away from home can be beneficial, especially before the final preseason game, as it allows the players to bond.

“It prepares us for the games we’re going to have on the road this year,” Belichick said. “So whether it’s all the normal travel, operational and support staff, just delivering the things you need on the road, whether it’s food, medical treatment, whatever. So I’m just trying to pass the time constructively.”

Back to top button