With the start of training camp for the Raiders, head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock addressed the media for the first time since minicamps. Both guys have backgrounds in media so they know how to handle a press conference. There’s only so much information that the two men can divulge this early in training camp, but they did offer a few interesting tidbits, especially surrounding the Raiders rookies.
Josh Jacobs Still Needs to Prove Himself
One of the most interesting things to come from the press conference was Gruden’s addressing of rookie running back Josh Jacobs.
“He won’t be the feature back until he earns it,” said Gruden.
As one of the favorites to win rookie of the year, it’s been assumed that the starting job is Jacobs’ to lose, but based on Gruden’s comments, it won’t be so easy for him. The Raiders still have veterans Doug Martin and Jalen Richard on the roster, so Jacobs is going to need to prove that he’s better than those two guys. Jacobs is the most talented RB of the group, but Gruden is old school. He’s going to want Jacobs to fight for that spot. Jacobs is a hard worker and a high character player, so this comment shouldn’t be looked at as much of a negative. Don’t be surprised if Jacobs is taking the bulk of the first-team reps in training camp.
Surprise Injury & Mayock Addresses Richie Incognito Suspension
One surprise from the press conference was when Mike Mayock announced that offensive guard Denzelle Good will be out for two months because he had lower back surgery. He’ll definitely miss the beginning of the season. Based on comments from Jon Gruden, it seems like recent acquisition Jonathan Cooper will have the edge, but Gruden did say that they’ll have a competition there.
Richie Incognito is the most talented player in the group of guards, but he’ll be serving a two-game suspension to start the season. Mike Mayock did address the Incognito suspension.
“We expected some kind of suspension. We planned for it. He’s been nothing but phenomenal to the young offensive linemen in the building,” said Mayock.
It wasn’t a big surprise when Incognito was handed the suspension, but with Good going down, the Raiders are really going to miss his presence those first two weeks of the season.
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Praise for Defensive Rookies
Gruden went out of his way to heap praise upon some of his young rookie defenders. He had really good things to say about the Raiders’ rookie defensive ends.
“You gotta really be impressed with [Clelin] Ferrell and Maxx Crosby and Quinton Bell, the three young defensive ends,” said Gruden. “Their roles are different, they have versatility and can go do a different number of things. I’m really really excited about that.”
He also singled out Trayvon Mullen as a player that could compete for a starting spot.
“Trayvon Mullen has come in here and prove he’s a competitor and win a job here,” said Gruden.
Mullen will have his work cut out for him trying to make his way into the starting lineup, but it bodes well for him that Gruden is taking notice of his play. Gruden had a funny line about rookie safety Johnathan Abram.
“[Johnthan Abram] is sharp, he loves football. You can’t get rid of the guy,” said Gruden. “He’s texting me, calling me – I’m gonna change rooms so he can’t find me. I love this guy. He’s an old school, throwback player and he needs to continue to refine his game. He’s gotta learn the NFL game. We’re confident in him.”
Gruden loves his grinders, so he can’t complain too much that Abram is eager to learn. Abram’s passion should make him an instant leader for the young Raider defense. There were lots of goodies to come from the Gruden-Mayock press conference and you can watch it below.