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HENDERSON, Nev. – Kolton Miller was more animated than usual, speaking with his hands in an exaggerated way, while describing the Las Vegas Raiders’ fresh start with a new coaching staff and his status as a four-year NFL veteran.
The youngsters on the offensive line, said the Raiders left tackle as he turned his hands towards himself, trying to absorb as much information as they can, in the early stages of organized team activities.
“Our job as old guys,” Miller said with a Cheshire cat laugh, pointing to his barrel coffin, “we’re trying to show them the ropes.”
Wait, “old” guys?
Miller is 26 years old. But he has already existed long enough to see three general managers – Reggie McKenzie, Mike Mayock and Dave Ziegler – three coaches – Jon Gruden, Rich Bisaccia and Josh McDaniels – and two cities for the Raiders – Oakland and Las Vegas.
“Man, it’s been four years like that,” Miller said, snapping the fingers of his right hand.
“It’s going fast. But I’m still trying to compete and learn and pick up something every day. There’s always something to work on. And I think it’s spread across the room. We’re still young and we’re trying to improve in as many areas as we can. It’s all new – new coach, new system. Trying to get the basics and execute as best we can. “
The overall number 15 in the 2018 NFL draft from UCLA, Miller was Gruden’s first choice during his second round as Raiders coach, and he often referred to Miller as a foundation for the franchise.
But after fighting fiercely as a rookie – injuries played a role – Miller has found a groove.
Last season, his 85.0 Pro Football Focus overall rating was the highest of a Raiders tackle since 2016, and his 85.1 pass-blocking rating was the highest of a Raiders tackle since 2015.
Oh, and Miller, who played all the offensive snaps last season, was also named to the AFC by the Pro Football Writers of America. As such, his presence has been a welcome rescue for McDaniels as he builds a team.
“Yes, he is one of our best workers, there is no doubt about it,” McDaniels said. “And you can see why he’s improved every year he’s been in the National Football League. He puts a lot of time and effort into it in the facility. He works really hard in the weight room. He’s in good shape. He’s studying hard. .
“To be really good in this league, there are a lot of things you have to do well. And Kolton makes a great effort every day in everything he is responsible for.”
The 6-foot-8, 325-pound Miller is the only sure thing on an offensive line full of question marks in 2021. Quarterback Derek Carr was fired 40 times last season, the second-largest part of his eight-year career. Las Vegas responded by drawing a pair of offensive linemen in Dylan Parham, who has worked on guard, in the third round, and Thayer Munford, in the seventh round.
This after spending a first-round pick last year on Alex Leatherwood, who started the season with right tackle but was moved to right guard in week 5.
Leatherwood got reps at the right tackle during last week’s OTA training, which was open to the media.
“He looks like he’s leaning out and he looks good in the weight room,” Miller said of Leatherwood. “Get on the field and his feet look really nice. I’m excited. I’m excited about him.”
In fact, Miller took the glass-half-full approach to Leatherwood being moved inside last season.
“It’s a hard job trying to learn to tackle and then go on guard,” Miller said. “It’s about how dynamic he can be.”
And at this year’s top election Parham? Miller said he is “young, smart and absorbing.”
sounds familiar. Even though Miller is an old guy, right? Well…
“He has things we’ve already identified that he can improve on, and he’s working hard to try to do that, and we’ll continue to work that way when we go to training camp,” McDaniels said of Miller. . “But he just has a great attitude, a great attitude every day.
“Kolton is a great leader for us. Takes a lot of others with him, which is great and influences his teammates in a positive way.”
Miller, who is now less animated and uses O-line-speak, smiled when asked how his job description changed by going from Tom Cable to Carmen Bricillo as position coach.
“You’re still blocking the end,” Miller said with a smile, “most of the time.
“I’m still fine. I’m still fine. Fresh.”
Even for an, ahem, old guy.