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15 Things We Learned From Hard Knocks

What HBO's Hard Knocks has taught us about the Oakland Raiders
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Hard Knocks started last night which unofficially serves as the start of the NFL season for lots of fans around the globe. We're here to walk you through everything we learned about the Raiders in the episode, both about football and the wider organization. All comments are in order based on events in the episode.

1. Jon Gruden is not into dreams. He wants to build a team who is ready to cause “nightmares.” Time will tell which term will be used by Raiders fans to describe his tenure in charge.

2. Plenty of NFL players get criticized for getting high in the offseason. Antonio Brown chose to do it in a legal, but unconventional manner. Anyone else show up to work in a hot air balloon lately?

3. Rookie safety Jonathan Abram thinks his teammates are “boujee” for preferring Target snacks to Wal-Mart. It’s unclear how a player from Mississippi State is really qualified to comment on the level of sophistication of his peers.

4. Surprisingly, Gruden is not a coach who is going to tolerate any rookie hazing. Instead, he wants all of his players to be treated with professionalism. Note, this doesn’t apply to “signing the fight song” or other harmless forms of hazing.

5. We’re not buying that Derek Carr put sunscreen on his arms. We’re with Foster Moreau, it’s some type of tanning oil.

6. On a more serious note, Carr doesn’t look to be all that big by NFL standards. There have been questions about his accuracy in recent years, and perhaps those issues could be aided with a little more time in the weight room. He doesn’t have the biggest frame in the league, but his arms look really thin for a starting quarterback in his prime.

7. Antonio Brown should have told his kids that Ben Roethlisberger wasn’t coming with them to Oakland. His kids looking for Big Ben on the first day of training camp didn’t bode well for the Raiders’ chances this season.

8. Last Chance U star Ronald Ollie makes a cameo on Episode 1. He’s an undrafted free agent. Raiders fans shouldn’t spend too much time familiarizing themselves with his game. The odds are stacked against him making the 53-man roster.

9. Lots of NFL rookies are really concerned about the quality of their rides when they hit training camp. Clelin Ferrell and Jonathan Abram chose a different path. They chose to ride horses instead of souped up cars. Credit Abram for knowing his stuff. The Raiders should hope Ferrell is better at pass rushing than horseback riding. Can’t imagine team officials were too enthused about this field trip.

10. Speaking of Abram, he has the perfect amount of swagger to become a Pro Bowler at the safety position. If he makes it all camp without hurting any of his teammates, he should emerge as an early difference maker for this team.

11. For the record, I thought Ollie would at least survive the first show. Clearly, I was wrong.

12. Mike Mayock did an excellent job on TV during his time with the NFL Network. He was never short of words though. This might be the most screen time he’s ever received without launching into a soliloquy about a young player with a chance to blossom into a star. His silence is unnerving.

13. Richie Incognito admitting to being a Guy Fieri fan is pretty off-brand. The controversial offensive lineman has a well-earned reputation for being unstable. It’s rather hard to imagine him sitting around and watching cooking shows in his spare time.

14. Antonio Brown can suffer from frostbite and still get separation off the line of scrimmage. Raiders fans can relax, he’s still a stud. Gruden is understandably concerned when he misses practice. He believes Brown’s presence on the field can “elevate” everyone else’s play.

15. Seven man sleds may be considered outdated by some franchises, but it’s still a tool the Raiders like to use. Time will tell if it pays off with a punishing run game in 2019.

That wraps it up from Episode 1, but there’s still time for you to take advantage of what you’re learning about the Raiders on the show. Oddsmakers have installed the over/under for Gruden’s team anywhere between 5.5 and 6.5.Teams on the show generally get a bump in the eyes of the public. That might make the prudent move to bet the under.

By Rucker Haringey


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