NFL fans the world over got their wish. The league announced on Tuesday that the Oakland Raiders will be featured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” this season.
Who can’t wait to see this take place in Napa as the Raiders prepare for their final season playing in Northern California?
So many stories to cover. Head coach Jon Gruden’s outspoken ways. His relationship with quarterback Derek Carr. The additions of Antonio Brown, Richie Incognito and Vontaze Burfict.
It’s going to be an absolute blast. It’s also in this that we give you the top six storylines for the Raiders on “Hard Knocks” this season.
Derek Carr and Jon Gruden
It’s not a secret that Oakland flirted with the possibility of adding a quarterback to replace Carr during April’s NFL Draft. It’s also not a secret that Carr was not too happy about this. All of the drama we’ve seen over the past several months comes on the heels of the two butting heads during Gruden’s first season as Oakland’s head coach.
Now that it’s going to be right there on camera and in front of us, we’re intrigued to see if this relationship is worth salvaging. We’re also intrigued to see if the two go at it. Expect popcorn-worthy fun here.
Antonio Brown’s antics
Following a drama-filled exit from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Brown is looking to reshape his career in Northern California. It got off to a bit of a rocky start with the All-Pro receiver absent from the start of voluntary off-season activities. Add in Brown’s social media presence, and he’s going to be the talk of wine country once camp gets going.
Going behind the scenes to get a better look at someone Pittsburgh might have used as a scapegoat should let us better understand whether Brown will succeed with the Raiders and whether he was the primary culprit with Ben Roethlisberger and Co.
We know just how impatient Gruden can be with the youngsters. It’s why he seemingly prefers veterans over rookies. Given that Oakland selected three players in the first round of April’s draft, we’re not sure that can really be the case in 2019. The Raiders are going to have to rely on all three rookies early and often.
Will the selection of former Clemson edge rusher Clelin Ferrell at No. 4 look like an even bigger reach in camp? Will safety Johnathan Abram continue what has been a solid offseason? What about running back Josh Jacobs? We’re interested to see if he can live up to that first-round billing and earn a starting gig.
Let’s put it this way. There’s a good chance Mr. Incognito will take a bat to something during the Raiders’ annual excursion to Napa. The hope here is that it’s another car, not a human being. Best known for being a central player in the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal earlier this decade, the offensive guard sat out all of last season.
This doesn’t mean that Incognito was out of the headlines. The past calendar year has seen this former Pro Bowler arrested on charges of threatening a funeral home and put on psych hold for a separate incident. While stopping short of making fun of any mental issues, Incognito is certainly a wild card and storyline for “Hard Knocks.”
Last season in Northern California
The Raiders’ imminent move to Las Vegas in time for the 2020 NFL season has already been a major story around the football world. Now that this organization is going to be featured on “Hard Knocks,” that’s magnified even further.
Cameras will be running on the fans. Interactions will be broadcast. We’re sure hoping the 2019 campaign isn’t as ugly as what we’ve seen with other relocations over the past few decades. What happens in Napa might tell us a larger story here.
The Vontaze Burfict dynamic
Wait one second. Vontaze Burfict going up against Richie Incognito with the film running? That is legitimately must-see television right there. Already considered one of the dirtiest players in the NFL, it wasn’t terribly too surprising to see Oakland sign Burfict.
That’s obviously until we realize that his new teammate is none other than former Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown. Picture this for a second. Burfict laying a hard hit on Brown with Incognito protecting his receiver. Jon Gruden steps in. All heck breaks loose. Who isn’t ready for something like this to go down?