Raiders’ Thayer Munford Jr. is making his move at right tackle


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HENDERSON, Nev. — Thayer Munford Jr. was talking Friday about how Jermaine Eluemunor was like a big brother to him, and there was no trash-talking about how the two were competing for the Las Vegas Raiders’ starting right tackle job.

Which is a good thing, because Eluemunor looked like he wouldn’t have been able to handle any of that on Friday. Munford, the second-year player out of Ohio State, seemed to take the lead in the battle as he took the first-team reps.

Eluemunor openly pouted on the sidelined and several players had to walk over and try to talk him out of it. The seventh-year veteran started all 17 games for the Raiders last season and has been busy on social media this offseason saying he is one of the best right tackles in the NFL.

Munford was asked after practice Friday if he is making his move now.

“Yeah, I think I am,” he said. “But also at the same time, it also comes down to the competition that we got in the room. Like I can be my best, Jermaine, Brandon Parker, we can be at our best but also at the same time, we are all here to compete. … We all need to compete and stay focused.”

Friday’s practice was indoors at the team facility, and the players didn’t wear pads after wearing them on Tuesday and Wednesday before a day off on Thursday. The only other thing of note was that quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo really struggled. He threw three interceptions and also had his foot stepped on. It’s been a wildly uneven camp for Garoppolo, who is working back from offseason foot surgery. He has had some great days — even on deep passes, not his forte — and also some days where his accuracy was AWOL.

Defensive end Maxx Crosby, meanwhile, is like the Tasmanian Devil on the practice field, constantly in motion and spewing out angry gibberish, and Munford and Eluemunor have to take turns dealing with him.


Maxx Crosby gets physical in Raiders’ spirited first practice of camp in pads

“Every day is a tryout,” Munford said. “We go against Maxx every day, and that itself is already a game. With us, we just keep our head down, but also keep it up at the same time. Like, ‘All right, it’s time to go.’ We can’t really worry about the past, we can’t worry about last year, we can’t worry about in the future of this year. We’ve got to focus on now, that’s all it is.”

Crosby beat the 6-foot-6, 320-pound Munford a few times at practice, because of course he did. Crosby is one of the top 20 players in the NFL.

“It can be frustrating of course, but at the same time we know who Maxx is,” Munford said. “We know who we’re about to go against every day, like it’s nothing new. Everybody sees that he’s top 20 in the league right now, but also at the same time, we all want to respect each other. That’s all it is.”

Coach Josh McDaniels picks which three or four players speak to reporters after practice every day. Eluemunor had met the media on Tuesday and was talking about how excited he was about this training camp.

“This is the first training camp in my career I’ve been able to come in as a starter, but then that adds more pressure,” Eluemunor said. “In this camp, it’s more about solidifying my spot than it is earning it. But then also we have talented guys in the room, Thayer, Brandon (Parker), even Justin (Herron), all of them can play right tackle also.

“So, it’s more about improving every day myself and solidifying my spot, but then also finding ways to get better.”

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Jermaine Eluemunor started all 17 games last season, but will have to fight to keep his right tackle job. (Charles LeClaire / USA Today)

The Raiders return all five starters from a surprisingly efficient offensive line last season, but they are not all guaranteed their starting jobs. Besides Eluemunor, right guard Alex Bars is feeling some pressure from veteran Greg Van Roten.

Munford said the whole offensive line is just better because of their time together last season.

“I think everybody is a lot more confident,” he said. “We’re a lot more confident as a whole group, as a whole team. And we know what we got to do. We can’t just focus on last year.”

Munford said he is in a much better place overall than he was last year when he had a rough adjustment to NFL life off the field.

“Last year, I was in a dark place by like Week 6 — because it was just a lot for me,” he said. “So, me taking the time, giving everything to God, taking my time to God, that actually like helped me push through the day. It helps out a lot.

“It was just other stuff in life that I wasn’t used to. In college, you always got sheltered a lot more because you’re still a young man trying to grow up. And right now as a man, you’re supposed to know everything, what’s going on and how to manage that with work and with family life.”

One teammate especially helped him out through that dark time.


“He’s kind of like my big brother,” Munford said. “He kind of took me under his wing when I was struggling with certain stuff personally. And this year, we’re competing for the same spot and nothing has changed. Sometimes we get down in the dumps, but we’re there to pick each other up.”

It sounds like Munford planned to be there for his guy on Friday night.

(Top photo of Thayer Munford Jr.: John Locher / Associated Press)

The Football 100, the definitive ranking of the NFL’s best 100 players of all time, goes on sale this fall. Pre-order it here.

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Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams
Alexandra Williams is a writer and editor. Angeles. She writes about politics, art, and culture for LinkDaddy News.

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