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Jon Gruden: Raiders’ Rodney Hudson ‘best center I’ve coached’

Updated August 1, 2018 - 7:44 pm

NAPA, Calif. — An impressed Jon Gruden was first to congratulate center Rodney Hudson.

It wasn’t enough, he decided.

The Raiders coach chimed teammates to follow suit. They did, dozens clapping and hollering in the middle of practice. And so it began Wednesday, a rowdy reception during an 11-on-11 drill for one of the more respected veterans in the team’s locker room.

When asked about the moment later, Hudson was true to modest form.

“I don’t know,” he said. “We are just playing ball.”

This offseason, quarterback Derek Carr has received an appropriate amount of attention for his ability to acquire command of Gruden’s complex offense. Hudson is not to be overlooked, as he has steered the offensive line against defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s aggressive front.

Hudson, 29, exudes a calm intelligence like a college professor in office hours.

He and Carr form the offense’s braintrust on the field.

“He’s one of our captains,” Gruden said. “When you’re in the pivot and you’re playing against Guenther, a lot of things can change. Looks like they’re bringing a blitz to the left, then they’re bringing a blitz to the right. They’re coming up the middle. He made a couple calls late in the down that were awesome today.

“It’s fun going to work with the battery we have. Derek Carr and Rodney Hudson are showing some really good communication and understanding of our system and what we want to do.”

There is another layer to Gruden’s affection for Hudson.

He singled out Wednesday how Hudson runs down the field on long pass completions. Hudson said that he started doing so while at Florida State, looking for someone to block or some way to assist on a play, perhaps by recovering a fumble. He then showcased his memory, recalling a game against Clemson in 2009 when he recovered and returned a fumble to lead the Seminoles in average yards per carry that day.

The box score told the same story.

Hudson: 9-yard carry, Nov. 7, 2009, at Clemson.

“He’s the best center that I’ve coached,” Gruden said.


** Johnny Townsend demonstrated again Wednesday why the Raiders drafted him in the fifth round, exhibiting strong directional punt ability. Wide receiver Dwayne Harris caught one such punt within a yard or two of the sideline. Townsend figures to be a factor in the team’s twice-a-year matchup against Kansas City Chiefs returner Tyreek Hill.

** Right tackle Brandon Parker, defensive end Fadol Brown and running back Jalen Richard were among the Raiders absent from practice. Richard strained his calf Sunday. He is expected to return soon.

** Wide receiver Martavis Bryant missed practice to an illness, Gruden said.

** Kicker Giorgio Tavecchio made four of six field goals during the Raiders’ daily set. He converted a game-winning 51-yard field goal later in practice.

More Raiders: Follow all of our Raiders coverage online at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

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

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