Jon Gruden: We’re not afraid to play young guys, but they have to earn it

Jon Gruden: We're not afraid to play young guys, but they have to earn it

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One frequent talking point this offseason has been how difficult it will be for rookies to make an impact without offseason programs or preseason games to help them transition to the professional level.

Some teams are still going to find themselves relying on rookies to contribute right off the bat, however, and the Raiders would seem to be one of them. The team’s two first-rounders — wide receiver Henry Ruggs and cornerback Damon Arnette — both play positions of need and head coach Jon Gruden said Thursday that the team hasn’t shied away from giving young players a chance since he returned to the Raiders.

“We’ve been good fast-tracking players at every position,” Gruden said, via Tashan Reed of “Last year was a great indication. Over the last couple years a lot of young players have played for us and that was the goal when we got here. You could say we excavated the land here in terms of the roster the first year, but we’ve built it back with young players. . . . We’re not afraid to play the young guys, but they gotta earn it.”

The Raiders also brought in a number of veterans this offseason, which gives Gruden and the rest of the coaching staff a lot to do in the next few weeks if they’re going to “raise the bar” during the team’s first year in Las Vegas.

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