Raiders gird for London travel


LONDON – When cornerback Leon Hall traveled to London for a game with the New York Giants in 2016, he tried passing part of the transatlantic flight by sleeping.

“I remember going to sleep and I thought I slept for, like, ever,” Hall said. “And then I realized I only slept for like an hour and 15 minutes.”

Which left plenty of time to fill.

“Movies,” Hall said. “I get up and walk around a lot, mess around with people, get nosy, I don’t know. Go to the back and look at all the snacks.”

As the Raiders prepared this week for Sunday’s game against the Seahawks at London’s Wembley Stadium, much of the discussion centered around the teams’ plans for navigating the long flight from the West Coast and adapting to the eight-hour time difference.

Neither team is a stranger to travel – the Seahawks (33,684) and Raiders (33,400) will cover the most miles among NFL teams this season, including preseason games. But this will be Seattle’s first game in London as part of the league’s International Series and the second for the Raiders, whose previous visit in 2014 predated much of the current coaching staff and roster.

Each team is trying a different philosophy. The Seahawks opted to fly Wednesday, leaving time for a pair of practices in London.

“Did our homework and our research and made our decisions,” head coach Pete Carroll said on a conference call. “Just try to maximize the process getting started for the week in the planning stages (at home). Then also try to maximize the recovery so the guys have made the transition and are ready to play at full speed, full performance level.”

The Raiders, meanwhile, chose to spend most of the week at home, leaving late Thursday and arriving in London on Friday afternoon with about 48 hours to recover before kickoff.

“Probably get over there on Friday and mostly just recover with the players,” said Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. “Get them a stretch, get them a little something to eat, get their blood pumping, have a walk-through. Then Saturday, day before the game, a lot of review. Won’t be a lot of time for sightseeing.”

Gruden said he wasn’t worried about the Seahawks possibly benefiting from a head-start.

“We’ve done our research, I’m sure they’ve done theirs,” Gruden said. “I’ve never done it. I’m just going to trust our preparation was the right thing, and we’ll go play them.”

This will be the seventh London trip for Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who has tried various itineraries – including spending a week full there for the Raiders’ 2014 trip – and said he favors arriving closer to the game.

“I personally prefer going over on a Thursday, make it a quick road trip there,” Olson said. “But either way has worked.”

Of course, players face the physical challenge of being in peak condition by Sunday.

Raiders linebacker Derrick Johnson, who traveled to London in 2015 with the Chiefs, said their schedule was similar to the Raiders’ this year. Kansas City won the game, though Johnson said he didn’t feel fully adjusted “probably until game day.”

“That morning, you start getting your legs back under you,” Johnson said. “You do … a lot of things throughout the couple days to help you play better on Sunday, as far as getting your rest, massages, staying off your feet.”

Fellow linebacker Tahir Whitehead, who played in London with the Lions in 2014 and 2015, said Detroit spent a full week there both times, but he didn’t think the extra time made a difference.

“Whether you’re here or there you’re still practicing, you’re still training with the team,” said Whitehead. “This patch of grass, that patch of grass, it don’t matter.”

Johnson said his goal for Thursday’s flight would be to “get as much rest as you can.”

“Get as comfortable as possible on the plane, which is hard to do,” he said. “But if you can take a couple melatonin or something like that to help you sleep, you’ll be good.”

Whitehead voiced a different plan.

“There’s always work to be done, baby,” he said. “I’m sitting there, I’m going over the game plan, watching the practice, watching movies, talking to the guys, whatever. Just find a way to stay active.”

Raiders who have made the trip, though, agreed that playing in London is a unique experience. Several mentioned the fans, who pack the city’s host stadiums wearing an array of NFL jerseys.

“They love it,” Whitehead said. “They love it. They were enthused that we were there, they were happy. They embraced us as well as some of the fans that traveled over there. It was a good feeling, just seeing how happy they were to have us.”

Matt Kawahara is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: mkawahara@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @matthewkawahara



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