Two interceptions by Raiders LB Nick Kwiatkoski upends ‘hell of a camp’ by Marcus Mariota
Tuesday was the first day in Pads for the Raiders. Had it not been for that, it would have felt like a serious déjà vu moment as linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski showed up and picked up a Marcus Mariota pass over the middle. Because it was the second day in a row that he had done it. And both picks looked identical.
The interception was so easy and out of place, Jon Gruden isn't so sure if anything else is going on.
"Those are the only two interceptions we've thrown here and I think Marcus and Nick are roommates, I don't know what the deal is," Gruden said with a wink.
“Mariota got off to a great start yesterday and looks like the galloping ghost out there. And today he throws four incredible passes. I think he and Nick are probably having a beer downstairs at Caesar's Palace right now. I don't know what the hell this is about.
“Nick is a good player. You're in zone coverage, you read the quarterback, and he telegraphed those two throws. It really kept him from having a bloody camp. And he's got a good camp, but he could have a great camp if it weren't for a couple of interceptions. "
Kwiatkoski denied any conspiracy between him and Mariota. But then again, he would deny it.
"I don't know what he meant by that," said Kwiatkoski of Gruden's comment that they were roommates. “But I think Marcus is a little mad at me right now. I mess with him after training, but it's all fun. "
Nick went on to joke that he and Mariota "might have to think about it and make a plan for next week."
Seriously, Mariota had some great days at this year's camp, as I reported after training on Saturday. And Gruden directs plays for the 'Flyin' Hawaiian '.
Meanwhile, with Nicholas Morrow, Kwiatkoski shared time between first and second team representatives, although both are expected to play key roles in the linebacking corps this season. Morrow is considered a linebacker with better cover, but Kwiatkoski can clearly hold his own in this arena.
"The league is changing," said Kwiatkoski of the importance of good coverage. "You have tight ends, running backs who are all receivers now, so being able to cover running backs, cover receivers, take back pass cover, and be a factor in the passing game adds a lot to your game."
For what it's worth, Kwiatkoski has two career interceptions, one in each of the last two seasons. Mariota would be wise not to stare at his receivers and become blind to Nick's presence in the middle. Or find a new roommate.
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Las Vegas Raiders
August 15, 4:00 a.m.
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