*Just like you guys, we're tuning in every Tuesday night to watch Hard Knocks: Training Camp With The Oakland Raiders. Following each of the five episodes, the Raiders.com staff will recap what happened over the course of the program and look at some of the biggest questions they have following the viewing.
Episode 01 really set the bar high; between Antonio Brown showing up in a hot air balloon, the handful of celebrity appearances, and the bromance between first-round picks Johnathan Abram and Clelin Ferrell it was a solid way to kick off the series, but HBO made sure to follow it up in Episode 02.
We open the second episode with Head Coach Jon Gruden addressing the team, and if you weren't fully paying attention right away, Gruden made sure you were awake. With what felt like the snap of a finger, Gruden raised his voice and urged his men to kick things into another gear. Stating that people in the media doubt what the Silver and Black are capable of, and quite frankly he's sick of it.
That message set the tone for the rest of the episode, and it was the intensity fans love to see from the Raiders Head Coach.
From there, we transition into practice where all eyes are on the backup quarterbacks, Nathan Peterman and Mike Glennon. There's no disputing that Derek Carr is the team's franchise quarterback, and Coach Gruden intends to keep it that way by riding his players for getting to close to No. 4, "protect the merchandise!." At this point of training camp, we hadn't seen or heard a lot from the backup signal-callers and it was interesting to watch Coach Gruden poke and tease them to be a little more mean.
Coach Gruden wasn't the only member of the coaching staff getting on his guys though, as defensive line coach Brentson Buckner let the young guns know there's no more excuses, and it's time to play big boy ball.
A large portion of this episode revolves around the impending preseason battle between the Raiders and the Los Angeles Rams. The Silver and Black welcome in Gruden's former pupil in Rams Head Coach Sean McVay and HBO takes a nice stroll down memory lane, sharing just how far the two have come over the course of their relationship.
For weeks, every team in the NFL has been going toe-to-toe with their own teammates, and the first time the players got a chance to face another team you knew there would be some trash talk and shoving — the Raiders and Rams didn't disappoint. The big fellas in the trenches throw a lot of meat around and it only seemed right they got into a tussle. With Metallica playing in the background the Raiders offensive line and the Rams defensive line got into it. The affair was quickly broken up, but it allowed the players to release some pent-up frustration and energy.
The joint practice led us into the preseason battle between the two sides, and this was when Keelan Doss' storyline truly started to take shape. Hard Knocks had sprinkled clips throughout the episode of the undrafted wide receiver's playmaking ability, as well as his determination to pick Coach Gruden's brain; however, it was his highlight-reel touchdown against the Rams that really tied it all together. In front of his friends and family, Doss suited up in the Silver and Black for the first time, an undeniably special moment for the kid from Alameda. He grew up in the shadow of the Coliseum and walking out of the tunnel Saturday was surreal for him.
Postgame, Coach Gruden expresses how proud he is of each of his players, and reminds them that no matter the stage, it always feels good to win. He then addresses the media to briefly touch on superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown and the headlines surrounding the Raiders playmaker.
We close out the episode by visiting Doss' former stomping grounds, UC Davis, to take in a night practice with the Aggies. The road ahead is uncertain for No. 89, but as Coach Gruden shared, he's playing his way onto the team.
Coach Gruden kicks off the episode in a big way by delivering an empowering speech during the team meeting, and it got me thinking…
The Raiders Head Coach is known for giving intense and passionate speeches, so does he have a list of go-to things that get players fired up?
Do his speeches come naturally?
What would happen if someone talked back to the fiery coach? Though, I wouldn't want to be around for that.
Does Coach Gruden consider himself a good public speaker and has he always been a good at addressing groups of people?
Just some food for thought.
There's a couple different people you could give this award to, but Keelan Doss is my runaway MVP for this 'sode.
From early in the episode, HBO does a nice job of laying the foundation for Doss' storyline. He was a standout for the Oakland Raiders at the 2019 Reese's Senior Bowl, but somehow went undrafted. Regardless, the Alameda native demonstrates his eagerness to ask Head Coach Jon Gruden questions, as well as ability to make plays on the field in practice.
His storyline climaxes in this episode when he hauls in a three-yard reception from quarterback Nathan Peterman in his first game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum. With all of his family and friends in attendance, Doss was able to help solidify the Raiders' 14-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams. The former UC Davis Aggie attended school a little over three miles from the Coliseum at Alameda High School, and watching him beam with excitement following his highlight-reel moment was the icing on the cake this week.
Quote of the Episode:
This week's quote comes from one of the purest moments of the show thus far, and it's a reminder of how regardless of status we still remember our heroes.
"I just blocked Clay Matthews."
Fullback Alec Ingold is from Green Bay, Wis., and he grew up idolizing the former Packer. During the episode, Ingold is shown blocking the edge rusher, and can't help but share the special moment with running backs coach Kirby Wilson.
Following practice, Ingold was able to properly introduce himself to Matthews, and it was a cool moment to see Ingold's hero become his peer.
Next week on Hard Knocks…
Antonio Brown, Antonio Brown, and more Antonio Brown. We'll get a deeper look into everything that's been going on with Mr. Big Chest, so stay tuned.