Training Camp Notebook: Richie Incognito addresses suspension, new opportunity, following first day of practice

The date circled on Richie Incognito’s calendar is September 22.

While the Oakland Raiders officially kick off the 2019 regular season at home on September 9, the veteran lineman won’t be in uniform for the Monday Night Football clash – or the following week against the Kansas City Chiefs – as he serves a two-game suspension stemming from an offseason incident.

Following the Silver and Black’s first practice of training camp, Incognito addressed the media for the first time as a Raider and spoke about – among other things – his upcoming two-game punishment.

“It was about what I expected it to be,” said Incognito when asked about the suspension. “We had talked about it coming into it. We had planned for it, and the communication was clear between me and the team. They made it clear they support me, and it’s nice to get out here and get to football, and kind of put all that stuff behind.”

As General Manager Mike Mayock said Friday, the Raiders were not caught off guard by the news of Incognito’s suspension, and made adjustments to the roster accordingly, most noticeably signing Jonathan Cooper for some additional offensive line depth.

And while the former Buffalo Bill wants to earn a starting role beside Kolton Miller and Rodney Hudson, with over a decade of NFL experience under his belt, Incognito also wants to serve as a mentor to the younger players on the Raiders roster.

The Raiders hit the practice fields for their first practice of 2019 Training Camp.

“I think that’s a big part of my role being here, is helping the young guys get prepared,” he said when asked about his role as a mentor. “Get better, teach them some of my ways of keeping the body right, technique, a lot of stuff that comes with playing 12 years in the NFL.”

Now back in football after a year away from the game, and staring ahead at a two-game ban, Incognito finds himself in an interesting position – while he needs to take advantage of the reps throughout training camp, he also has to realize that during his time away, someone will have to step in and fill the void left by his absence.

For the time being though, Incognito is focused on the next day, and isn’t worried about the reps in practice will be allocated.

“I think that’s up to the coaching staff,” Incognito said. “Getting ‘Coop’ mixed in, getting me mixed in, obviously, we have to get Kolton and Rodney comfortable with both of us being in there because I’m going to be gone the first two weeks. My approach though, is I’m not changing anything. I’m approaching it just like I’m going to start Week 1. I’m going to have a two-week break. I’m going to go home, train my butt off, come back in really good shape, so I really don’t think the approach changes on my end, just have to be ready to take some reps, and rotate Coop in there, and I’m excited for ‘Coop.’”

Incognito’s tumultuous history off the field is well documented, but now at age 36 – and in a positive headspace – the four-time Pro Bowler is looking to ensure that the final chapter of his NFL journey is a positive one.

“It’s about redemption,” he explained. “It’s about getting another opportunity. It’s about really Mike Mayock, Jon Gruden, and the Raiders organization, giving me an opportunity, and I want to make it right. I want to make it positive for everybody. I want to come in here and contribute. I want to be a team leader, and I want to re-write the ending.”

Notable:

-After being placed on the Non-Football Injury list Friday afternoon, wide receiver Antonio Brown was unsurprisingly absent from the first day of practice Saturday. Looks like Raider Nation will have to keep waiting for Mr. Big Chest’s training camp debut.

-Without Brown suited up for work, Tyrell Williams was the de facto No. 1 wide receiver for the Silver and Black’s offense Friday. The former Los Angeles Charger is no doubt a physical presence out wide, but what I was struck by during the first practice of training camp was just how fast and fluid Williams is. He might not be as outspoken and colorful as AB, but make no mistake, Williams is an absolute stud.

-Of all the additions to the Raiders roster there wasn’t a bigger one – literally – this offseason than Trent Brown. Anchoring the right side of the offensive line, the Super Bowl champ looked strong and at ease back at right tackle. During a one-on-one session, Brown also took a few minutes to coach up undrafted rookie Lukayus McNeil – great to see the fifth-year veteran showing some attention to the young fellas.

-Speaking of one-on-one drills, Rodney Hudson looked very much the part of the Pro Bowl center that he is when squaring off against the Silver and Black’s interior linemen. Hudson is considered one of the best centers in the NFL, and he showed why on Saturday.

-Another thing I was struck by during the team’s first full practice of training camp was just how open Hunter Renfrow always seems to be. The rookie wide receiver seems to have a unique ability to make plays, and he’s a dude I can’t wait to watch in the preseason.

-Defensively speaking, Vontaze Burfict was vocal presence at middle linebacker, getting the rest of his teammates lined up where they needed to be. The Silver and Black signed Burfict due in large part to his familiarity with defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s scheme, and No. 55’s comfortability was on full display on Day 1.

-The play of the day on the defensive side of the football belonged to Daryl Worley. On an attempted pass down the sideline to Marcell Ateman, the athletic cornerback leaped in the air and batted the football down, much to the delight – and excitement – of the rest of his teammates.

-The Raiders dedication to embracing and supporting their alumni is one of the organization’s calling cards, and to that effect, nearly 100 former players attended the first day of practice. From Jim Plunkett to Kirk Morrison and Bill Romanowski, there was a plethora of football knowledge sitting in the stands to watch Jon Gruden and his team go to work.

Quotable:

Richie Incgonito discussing mental health:

“I think there is definitely a platform for me to talk about mental health. Mental health is something in this country that’s stigmatized, and it’s been well published that I’ve had my ups and downs…. It’s been a long journey to get here, and what I do bring to the Raiders organization is the best version of myself right now, and I’ve worked really hard to get here. The team’s worked really hard to get here, and I really just want to make [a] positive out of this. I really want to extend my gratitude to Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden, and Mark Davis, and the organization for giving me an opportunity, and I want to make it right.”

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Up Next:

The Silver and Black will be back on the field Sunday morning; Monday will be the team’s first padded practice of Training Camp 2019.

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