Episode 2 of ‘Hard Knocks: Training Camp With the Oakland Raiders’ – “Has Anyone Seen My Friend Antonio Brown?”

HardKnocks_AntonioBrownEpisode 2 of this season’s Hard Knocks moves at a breezy pace, with the black & silver gridironers having comical moments intertwined with the serious business of winning games. One of the lighter moments of this episode features the introduction of the rookies.  They state their college, signing bonus amount, and must do a rendition of a popular song. Rookie Defensive End Maxx Crosby (whom has a good showing but is later injured), delivers a crowd-pleasing take on a song by rapper Drake. Ironically, another rookie later states that we started at the bottom, and now we are here; a now iconic verse from another hit by Drake. The Oakland Raiders are indeed starting from the bottom, but will they be ‘here’ (i.e the playoffs), at the end of this season?

“Stand up and welcome each other to the second week of training camp.” After Head Coach Jon Gruden congratulates the current Raiders roster for the effort put into the first week of training camp, he quickly shifts gears and states that the team’s execution on the gridiron must exponentially improve. Coach Gruden further states that he knows the entire organization and fans are tired of reading articles and social media posts of the nation’s low expectations of the Raiders.

Oddly, this segment carries Antonio Brown’s (pictured) name in the title but features very little of the titular person. The all-star wide receiver’s podiatry woes still loom, and he is forced to leave the training camp. The organization now desperately need a receiver to fill this large performance gap. Continuing with the dreams coming true/dreams being crushed scenario, undrafted rookies vie for a spot as a wide receiver. Keelan Doss impresses Coach Gruden and his fellow players with his work ethic and inquisitive persona, however, he often fails to make the big plays. Doss is equally a candidate for either the chopping block or a place on the roster. Likewise, secondary quarterback Nathan Peterman had an abysmal showing during the first two weeks of training camp. Footage of Peterman throwing five interceptions during his first NFL start, and Jon Gruden constantly chewing his ass are all the makings of being released from the team.

Two years ago the Los Angeles Rams were a bad team. Last year they were the NFC champs. This week they face the Raiders in training camp and in a preseason game. The Rams are led by Coach Sean McVay, the youngest head coach in NFL history and the youngest coach to have reached a Super bowl. McVay served under Jon Gruden’s younger brother Jay Gruden. The Raiders are outclassed by Rams in training camp, with the Raiders dropping passes and missing tackles on HardKnocks_MaxxCrosby-300x215nearly every play. Against all logic, the Raiders easily defeat the Rams during the preseason game. The struggling Keelan Doss and Nathan Peterman find their strides, with the latter rushing and passing touchdowns to grasp a 14-3 victory. The only negative aspect of the game for the Raiders is a broken hand suffered by the hard playing Maxx Crosby (pictured). Even the most casual football fan knows that preseason games do not set the precedence for the actual season. However, preseason games do determine who will remain on the roster.

In the weeks to come, we will continue to watch a team’s road to a winning season. I am longing to see the Raider’s eventual move to Las Vegas to be documented in one of the episodes. This would bring a new angle to the show that has not been seen during its 14 season run. Hard Knock returns on August 20th on HBO.

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