ALAMEDA — After pulling off a successful 10-day stay on the East Coast last year, the Raiders are doing it again.
The Raiders flew to upstate New York on Friday to begin their extended road trip that features road games at Buffalo and Miami with a week of practice in Florida in between.
Coach Jack Del Rio had his team spend a week in Florida between games at Jacksonville and Tampa Bay last year and the Raiders ended up sweeping that road trip. With that in mind, the team is set to do it again.
“You have a chance to maybe come together a little bit as a squad, but it has to do with going there and playing good football,” Del Rio said. “Being on point, taking care of business, that’s what allows it to be a good thing. I think you have to do that, but the process is good, where you’re not flying coast to coast.
“You’re minimizing the amount of that travel. I don’t know if anybody does it more than us this year, but we’re called on to do a lot of traveling this year so to help mitigate that this year, we think it’s good for our organization.”
Much of the work for this trip is handled by the behind-the-scenes staff led by equipment manager Bob Romanski. The players and coaches were instructed to pack an extra bag that was to be sent straight to Sarasota, Florida, where the Raiders will practice at the IMG Academy next week before heading to Miami for the weekend.
The Raiders have perhaps the league’s most grueling travel schedule with seven games in the Eastern and Central time zone because of matchups with the NFC and AFC East this season and one designated “home” game being played in Mexico City against New England.
Oakland would have had the second-most miles to travel this season if they had headed home between games. There are other benefits beyond one less cross-country trip.
“The advantage is, one, you don’t have to wake up earlier because of traffic or drive, you just walk downstairs,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “And two, you get to eat every meal with your teammates. It’s almost like another camp where we’re all together. We’re all doing things together. Guys, if they don’t have their families, they’re going out to eat together and having dinner. They’re going out together and hanging out in the room together. Those kinds of things.”
Carr will fly his wife and kids to Florida to spend the week with them. But other players will be solo, which allows for more time to build relationships with teammates.
“Everyone was living in the same confined place,” running back DeAndre Washington said. “The guys definitely bonded. We bond usually, but being outside and not being able to go home and see our families definitely brought our guys a lot closer.”