After much anticipation and excitement, the Oakland Raiders on Hard Knocks has finally arrived. From the moment the Raiders became eligible to appear on the show, football fans everywhere were clamoring for the silver and black to make an appearance.
With additions like Antonio Brown, Vontaze Burfict, Richie Incognito and Mike Mayock, the excitement only grew. The team is littered with big personalities and was expected to make for great TV. The wait is over and HBO has finally released the first episode. Below we’re going to go through some of the key takeaways from episode one.
Antonio Brown’s Foot Issue Was Addressed First
It’s well known at this point that new Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown has been missing time due to a foot injury. The star wideout is no doubt eager to get back on the field, but he certainly needs practice less than most players on the roster.
“I got a lot of people that depend on me to perform,” said Brown. “This is my livelihood. Being on my feet, being able to cut.
He seems frustrated by the injury, but hopefully, it won’t keep him out too long. Former NFL quarterback Chris Simms reported that Brown may be suffering from frostbite due to time spent in the cryotherapy machine. It’s unclear how long that might keep him out, but it’s a situation to monitor. The team doesn’t seem too concerned, so he could be back soon.
Coach Gruden is eager to get the receiver back. He was visibility disappointed when he found out that Brown couldn’t practice at the start of training camp. Brown made a brief practice appearance and looked great, but the team has kept him out since.
“When he practices, he elevates everybody,” said Gruden about Brown. “He elevates the defense-they don’t want to look bad.”
The episode didn’t shed much light on the injury. They simply showed reactions to it. It’s unlikely we’ll find out anything else about the injury unless Gruden or Brown decide to address the media.
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Derek Carr Gets Some Love
Don’t tell Stephen A. Smith or Colin Cowherd, but there was a montage of Jon Gruden praising Derek Carr and his ability as a passer. Carr has been very impressive in camp thus far and that’s without Antonio Brown taking part in the bulk of the practices. Carr’s former teammate James Jones was shown in Napa during one scene and praised the quarterback while speaking to Brown. He shared an anecdote about how Carr completely outplayed Matt Schaub in his rookie season. It’ll be exciting to see Carr and Brown hit the field together.
Last week, Gruden praised backup quarterback Nathan Peterman. For some reason, this became a controversial story because people seem to believe Gruden dislikes Carr. There’s not much evidence to back up this notion, but the media seems to enjoy running with it. This episode makes it seems like their relationship is solid, but until Carr puts together a string of good games, the media is going to speculate that he’s going to be on his way out sooner than later.
Johnathan Abram & Clelin Ferrell Take Center Stage
Rookie safety Johnathan Abram has impressed enough at this point to earn a starting spot on the roster. Though Abram is technically a rookie, he doesn’t want to be called one.
“Don’t call me rook,” said Abram. “I hate being called rook.”
One thing is clear from this first episode, Abram really likes to talk. It’s surprising how much screen time he gets. He shares some dialogue with Carr and also gets a chance to talk to rapper G-Eazy. It also comes to light that he’s a fan of riding horses. He took fellow rookie Clelin Ferrell horseback riding and the two seemed to have a good time.
Though, not everything for Abram went smoothly. He got chewed out by Gruden because he was playing too aggressively and hitting players during a non-padded practice. Abram will have to tone it down if he wants to stay on the coach’s good side.
Jon Gruden Doesn’t Want Rookie Hazing
It appeared important that Gruden address rookie hazing and keeping it to a minimum. Whether or not this had something to do with Richie Incognito being on the roster is unknown, but it was talked about early on. The team brought in a lot of high-character rookies, so hazing them seems unnecessary and Gruden agrees.
“I don’t want any rookie hazing,” said Gruden. “Be professional with these guys, they’ve earned that much.”
Gruden is very keen on turning the franchise around and building a consistent winner for the first time in a long time. Last year was a disappointment in every sense of the word. Gruden’s return to the NFL wasn’t as exciting as everybody had hoped. He has more talent on his squad this year and he hopes to turn it around.
“We’ve worked our asses off to brings this group together, to turn this franchise around and create an identity and create a culture that can carry us into the future.”
Ronald Ollie Gets Some Screen Time
Ronald Ollie, a former star of Netflix’s Last Chance U, got a good amount of screen time, despite getting cut by the team early in training camp. He was injured early and that seemed to be his downfall.
“I can’t go,” Ollie said when he realized he hurt his Achilles.
What’s interesting is that Ollie seemed to potentially be overstating his injury, although it’s tough to tell on television. He also didn’t keep his appointment with the team trainer which likely played a part in him getting cut. He got chewed out by offensive line coach Brenston Buckner and Gruden weighed in.
“You know what, let’s get some of these f—ing guys out of here that don’t want to play,” said Gruden to another coach, likely referencing Ollie. “If we’re not going to listen to the trainer, who are we going to listen to?”
Ollie was an interesting prospect because of his athletism and name recognition. It just seems like he may lack a bit of the drive to succeed in the NFL.