Editor’s note: In the lead-up to the NFL draft (May 8-10) bookmark this page to keep tabs on which players the Raiders have had reported contact
ALAMEDA – Raiders fullback Marcel Reece ran into left tackle Donald Penn on Tuesday, the first day of the team’s offseason program. Always in leadership mode, Ambassador Reece told Penn how happy he was to have him as a teammate, happy that his sales pitch helped. As he did with several free agents, Reece put in hard work trying to get him here.
“You’d have to look at my phone bill to really see the recruiting I actually did,” Reece said. “I did a lot. Donald Penn just told me today that he was tired of me texting him two or three times a day.”
Reece had high hopes for this offseason, when the Raiders had $60-plus million in cap space to upgrade their roster. He begged general manager Reggie McKenzie to make “Raider-ass moves” in free agency, to be bold when acquiring new talent.
“I do feel he did that,” Reece said. “Coming into this free agency, as an organization and as a team and as a leader for myself personally, we weren’t looking for any saviors to come here and get in this locker room. We were looking for help. We were looking for help to bring this tradition, the winning attitude and a championship pedigree back to this organization and to the locker room and I think we did that.”
Reece didn’t want to sit back and watch. He took an active role in recruitment, working hard to make Oakland an attractive place to play. Every sales pitch didn’t work, but peer pressure greased the wheels for a few signings.
Reece is committed to bringing back the glory days of Raiders past. As much as anyone, he wears the shield with pride and expects others do the same. He also knew that a resurrection couldn’t happen without talent. If the front office went after a player, odds are Reece did too.
“A lot of people know that this team very important to me,” Reece said. “What it means to be a Raider is important to me – important to my life, my career and just what it means. It means a lot for me to be able to have the ability to even recruit and say, ‘Come join my team.’ I think we did a great job of bringing some guys in. Obviously, we lost out on a few guys that we wanted to keep, but I think other than that, we were fairly successful.”
Reece lamented the loss of left tackle Jared Veldheer, end Lamarr Houston and running back Rashad Jennings, but was pleased with how the Raiders responded. He believes the roster has been sufficiently upgraded, enough to compete in a tough AFC West.
“We’re definitely closer,” Reece said. “I think we’ve improved at a lot of positions, especially on paper. But, the story is always told later on, when you get into training camp and you actually start getting into practice. Anyone can play football without the pads on, but once it gets serious and you face a little adversity and you see how your team adjusts to that, that’s when you really start knowing the story that this season is going to hold.”