Raiders, Jon Gruden to start workout program Monday

OAKLAND, Calif. — Jon Gruden has some options.

On Monday morning, the Raiders coach will address his team for the first time. He could tell the 77 players under contract — their attendance technically is voluntary — about his return to coaching. He could detail his history with the Davis family, including his respect for departed owner Al and gratitude for current owner and son Mark.

But he won’t.

“I’m not going to have a long meeting here,” Gruden said. “I’m not going to say a whole lot.”

A day circled on Gruden’s calendar is finally here, as the Raiders will begin their offseason workout program. In recent months, Gruden has publicly lamented how the collective bargaining agreement prohibits contact between coaches and players. Able now to meet with players regularly, Gruden doesn’t plan to merely introduce himself.

There is one person, in particular, he wants players to know.

“We’ve got to introduce Tom Shaw, our new strength coach,” Gruden said at the NFL Annual Meeting on March 27 in Orlando. “We got a new program downstairs, totally different than what’s been going on there. We’re only allowed to have (players) for four hours a day, so I’m not going to talk to them for two hours. I’m going to get them downstairs and really sell our strength and conditioning program.

“Tom Shaw is great. He’s proven that. … Six years with the New England Patriots. He was with Bobby Bowden in the glory years of Florida State. He was with the New Orleans Saints. … He was my No. 1 hire. That guy touches the whole roster, all the time.”

Shaw founded Tom Shaw Performance at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

There, he has trained athletes across various sports and levels. Defensive end Khalil Mack, for example, worked with Shaw when preparing for the 2014 NFL Scouting Combine. Gruden collaborated with Shaw’s training program for several years when broadcasting his “QB Camp” series for ESPN.

Shaw hired Kelsey Martinez, Rick Slate, Deuce Gruden and D’Anthony Batiste as his four assistants. Deuce is the eldest of Gruden’s three sons.

Raiders players will work extensively with Shaw and his staff. The NFL’s voluntary workout program is divided in three progressive phases. The first allows for players to be exposed only to physical rehabilitation and strength and conditioning when on a field. The football staff, including Gruden, cannot join players until the second phase begins in two weeks.

Gruden’s challenge is to structure each day in a manner that maximizes productivity. According to the CBA, players cannot be at the facility more than four days a week or four hours per day.

“Four hours. Not a second less. Not a second more,” Gruden said with a laugh, checking his watch. “I’ll have a two-minute warning. ‘Two minutes left!’ … I want them to go down there and lift and run and be together for three hours. And then I want them to come upstairs and do football for one hour that first week and get excited about being a Raider and learning our system and building some relationships — that’s what it’s all about: trust and relationships.

“I don’t have any relationships with anybody. That’s a challenge, but that’s also the big reason I’m back. I’m looking forward to our players and our team and our Raiders working together. That’s what I’m excited about.”

No long speech Monday. Just a lot of work.

Contact reporter Michael Gehlken at mgehlken@reviewjournal.com. Follow @GehlkenNFL on Twitter.

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