Richie Incognito mentioned his excitement to be back at work five times when he talked to the media Wednesday, and listening to the four-time Pro Bowler pontificate as he stood in front of his locker, his eagerness to get back to work was apparent.
Following the conclusion of the preseason, instead of reporting to work at the team's Alameda, Calif., facility, Incognito flew to Arizona where he spent the duration of his league-mandated two-game suspension, training, while surrounded by family and friends.
The veteran offensive linemen's suspension ended Monday, and now with his first practice back with the Oakland Raiders under his belt, Incognito is focused on making his regular season debut Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
"It's exciting to be back," said Incognito. "I'm excited about the opportunity to go out there and compete with these men. We've been around each other for a couple months now, but now it's time to go lay it on the line, and go play ball. I'm proud to be here and represent the Raiders organization, excited to get out there and play, and go get a win."
While all indications are that No. 64 will make his official Raiders' debut at U.S. Bank Stadium later this week, Incognito remained locked in with the Silver and Black while away from the club, watching his teammates go through the first two games of the regular season on TV.
His thoughts on the 1-1 Raiders? Some good, some not so good, but definitely with room – and the talent – to improve as the season wears on.
"Proud of these guys," Incognito explained. "We've been working really hard to get here, and to have that kind of perspective to go through spring and training camp with these guys, then go sit on the bench and watch them, it gives you a different perspective, and really makes you appreciate it that much more."
With just three full practices to get Incognito back up to speed, there has been no time wasted on the front half of the week as the Raiders prepare for the Vikings, particularly along the offensive line, where the veteran guard has received extra reps as he works his way back into game shape.
"We're just trying to get it going," Incognito said. "I've been away for two weeks. We're obviously plugging and playing, and we're putting people at all different positions. It's a really good thing for us to come together, learn Rodney's silent snap count, something that I haven't gotten to experience before, so a lot of different, little things that we're working on, and just trying to get all five to come together as one and play well."
It's been a long road back to the gridiron for Incognito – he hasn't played in a meaningful game since December of 2017, but with his suspension now in the rearview mirror of his career, he's looking forward to officially starting his next chapter in Silver and Black on a positive note.
"The suspension is behind me, everything, all the negative stuff is behind me, just eyes forward," he explained. "Staying positive, relishing the opportunity, which I think is big, really enjoying every day in here, because you don't know how many more you're going to have, and wanting to play well. Wanting to play well for coach Gruden, for Mike Mayock, for Coach [Tom] Cable, for the rest of the offensive line, for all the hard work we've put in. Just really want to charge forward and make it right."
Head out to Alameda, Calif. for practice as the Raiders prepare for their Week 3 matchup against the Vikings this Sunday.