The Las Vegas Raiders have a new-look offensive line, and the most glaring difference could be at right tackle. Big-money free agent Trent Brown is gone, and the young, ultra-competitive Alex Leatherwood has taken his place.
A couple of weeks ago, Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable said Leatherwood’s competitive drive is what compelled Las Vegas to select him in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Cable also said Leatherwood is a bit “nerdy.” That means he’s smart enough to lean on his teammates and coaching staff to reach his goal of becoming a great NFL player.
“It’s been a huge learning experience,” Leatherwood told Tashan Reed of The Athletic. “For starters, at the end of the day, it’s all the same thing: It’s just football. So, I’m just trying to do what I do best.
“But, at the same time, I’m also trying to be a sponge and absorb as much as I can being a rookie and also playing a new position. I’m still trying to get adjusted to that and just leaning on my teammates. I feel like I got a bunch of great teammates here. I feel like this is a great organization. I have a lot of support with staff members and teammates teaching me things and helping me grow.”
Leatherwood came from a great college football program at Alabama, so when he calls the Raiders a “great organization,” his declaration carries weight.
Everyone involved in Las Vegas’ football operations knows how important it is to get Leatherwod started off right. This is a big year for the Raiders, with spectators in the stands at Allegiant Stadium for the first time, in addition to increased pressure on coach Jon Gruden to take the team to the playoffs.
And the entire offensive line is aware of all of that. They know that if they don’t perform, the season will not go well. That realization can form bonds quickly among the front five.
After one preseason game, Leatherwood looks as athletic and powerful as advertised. As he competes and strives to be the best, it will only give rise to the Raiders franchise where it counts: on the field when the stakes are high and the entire team has to compete as a cohesive unit.
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