Center Rodney Hudson
If anyone deserved to bask in the success – at least for a little bit – of the Oakland Raiders 2016 season, it was Rodney Hudson.
The powerful center was the man in the middle for one of the best offensive lines in football, and was also named to his first Pro Bowl at season's end. Not only that, Hudson got married this offseason before the team reported to training camp.
It was a banner year for the veteran center, and people around the league are expecting similar things from him and the Raiders in 2017. Quarterback Derek Carr is healthy, and locked up long-term, but combined with the addition of running back Marshawn Lynch, the Silver and Black once again look poised to boast one of the best offenses in the NFL.
The praise for Head Coach Jack Del Rio's group has been a dominant storyline across the airwaves all offseason, but Hudson hasn't given it any mind, and the reason for that is simple.
"I don't really watch a lot of TV like that," said Hudson Friday at the team's veteran report day in Napa, Calif. "I don't really focus on it too much. Like I said, just focusing on one day at a time, you know? Being in it for a few years now, that's something that I've learned. You can't look too far ahead. You have to focus on what's now, and take that task at hand, and do what you have to do today."
Although the former Florida State Seminole is just 28 years old, 2017 will be Hudson's seventh NFL season, and as a veteran presence in the Raiders locker room, he's now responsible for imparting that one-day-at-a-time mantra onto the team's young players.
The two pillars of the Raiders roster, quarterback Derek Carr on offense, and defensive end Khalil Mack are both just 26 years old, so at 28, although still in the prime of his career, Hudson knows that he has an important role to fill for a team with a predominantly young nucleus.
"That's part of our job, is to bring the young guys along," Hudson explained. "It's part of your role as an older guy is to bring young guys along."
The Raiders veterans have reported to the team's Napa Valley Training Complex, and with the first practice of Training Camp 2017 scheduled for Saturday, the good feelings that 2016 produced are all but distant memories for Hudson and the rest of the team.
However, the memory of how last season ended, on the field at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, remains a motivating factor heading into this year.
"It just keeps you hungry to take that next step, to go further, and win," Hudson said when asked about 2016. "Like I said, we're taking it a day at a time. We're not looking to 10 weeks from now or five weeks from now, but tomorrow. We're focusing on today, and focusing on getting better, and focusing on what we need to do."
He added, "You can't look too far ahead. You have to take it one day at a time, stay in the moment, one meeting at a time, one practice at a time, because looking that far down the road, the season is so long."
The Raiders will hold their first practice of Training Camp 2017 Saturday, and the first padded practice will take place Monday.