87°F
weather icon Clear

Raiders look to form identity as training camp begins

Updated July 26, 2019 - 8:23 pm

NAPA, Calif. — Just Win, Baby, sure becomes more and more difficult to promote without the winning part.

“To oversimplify,” Mike Mayock said Friday, “the Oakland Raiders have been to one playoff game in 16 years.

“That’s not a good identity.”

Just Exist, Baby.

They have returned to prepare for another NFL season in the heart of a wine region with a riverfront promenade of cheese shops and restaurants, where hot air balloon rides over striking scenery happened to deliver an All-Pro wide receiver to his first silver and black training camp.

No one ever accused Antonio Brown of making a discreet entrance.

“I expected a little bit more than a hot air balloon,” Raiders coach Jon Gruden said. “I thought he might jump out of an airplane and parachute here himself, but he’s going to add a lot of life to this organization.”

I suppose that’s one way of putting it.

The Raiders have returned to find themselves, whatever final portrait that might resemble.

Gruden and Mayock, the latter at his first training camp as general manager, addressed the media on the eve of the team’s first full-squad practice, when the seeds of characteristics both men hope define the 2019 team can begin being planted.

Such path to discovery — who are these Raiders, anyway, a year away from moving to Las Vegas? — will include a lot more eyeballs during the process, those from the HBO series “Hard Knocks” already in filming mode of countless cameras and boom mics following the every move of those who might provide interesting storylines.

The Raiders never wanted to invite drama beyond what a roster including Brown and offensive lineman Richie Incognito might already invite, but they were chosen to be featured on the show all the same.

So, for the most part, you frown and bear it.

“(Gruden) and I are old school in that the reason you go away for training camp is to get away from all the distractions,” Mayock said. “Get together, bond, learn your assignments, no distractions, no intrusions. (“Hard Knocks”) was handed to us, so it’s up to us to handle it.

“Jon came here with an intent to change (the identity), and he’s one of the most talented men I’ve met in any industry in my life. He has a vision, and we’ve talked a lot of fricking football over the years. We have a joint vision.”

It would, perhaps, make sense that a second training camp under a head coach offer a boatload of familiarity that might hasten progress. But the Raiders have a collection of news faces strewn throughout the two-deep, meaning learning The Gruden Way will be a chore for rookies and some veterans.

The Raiders are younger than last season, bigger than last season, faster than last season, certainly on paper more capable and explosive offensively than last season. And yet protecting and rushing the quarterback remain issues that they must prove close to a competent level.

Finding the commitment

A rookie (Josh Jacobs) has every chance to be the featured running back, and another (safety Johnathan Abram) had Gruden gushing with praise Friday. Nobody knows what the tight end spot might produce, and there is already concern at a suddenly thin right guard position. It’s camp. There are questions to be answered.

But things also begin without any contractual holdouts, a change from recent years that took focus off more important matters, such as trying to improve a product whose nonexistence once the playoffs commence has become far more anticipated than not.

Gruden wants the Raiders to be tough and smart and versatile, able to adapt to any situation, prideful in the details of work. In other words, he wants them to have the traits of the NFL’s best teams, which for a side coming off a 4-12 season is an awful lot of yeast to fermentate in the time allowed.

“Hopefully, at the end of the Napa experience, we have come together and formed an identity,” Gruden said. “We have some of our alumni running around here this weekend, and we’d like to get back to the Oakland Raiders of years past. Hopefully, our players can learn what it means to be a Raider and the commitment it takes to be an excellent football team.

“We have to get relationships formed. That’s the goal. That’s why we’re here.”

To, well, Just Identify, Baby.

More Raiders: Follow at reviewjournal.com/Raiders and @NFLinVegas on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

Don't miss the latest Raiders news. Like our Vegas Nation page
Raiders Videos
Jon Gruden Does Not Think Raiders Are Distracted - VIDEO
Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden talks about what he's looking for in the teams third preseason game Thursday in Winnipeg, also says he doesn't believe in the narrative of Hard Knocks and Antonio Brown distracting the team. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Antonio Brown Practices with Raiders in Alameda - VIDEO
Antonio Brown was once again present for the Raiders first practice of the season in Alameda and while he looked to be stretching on his own, he eventually practiced with the team after finding a helmet later on. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Antonio Brown Back With Raiders on Final Day of Training Camp - VIDEO
Wide Receiver Antonio Brown was back with the Raiders in Napa for the final day of Training Camp, just one day after General Manager Mike Mayock commented on Brown's status with the team. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vontaze Burfict talks defense, Paul Guenther details preseason strategy - VIDEO
Raiders Linebacker Vontaze Burfict describes his leadership on this years defense. Defensive Coordinator Paul Guenther details his preseason strategy with new players and Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson talks about Derek Carr's growth. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mike Mayock comments on Antonio Brown's recurring absence from camp - VIDEO
General Manager Mike Mayock seemingly gave Antonio Brown an ultimatum after the receiver yet again disappeared from the teams training camp in Napa, CA. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Derek Carr talks receiver depth while rookie Josh Jacobs gets praise - VIDEO
After practice Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr talked about the current depth of the receiver position. Head Coach Jon Gruden and Wide Receiver Tyrell Williams had a lot of praise for rookie Running Back Josh Jacobs and his offensive versatility. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Potential grass Raiders will play on being tested out by stadium crew - Video
The Raiders have yet to decide which grass they will choose as the turf the team plays on when it comes to Las Vegas in 2020, but the testing process is already underway at Allegiant Stadium. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Vs. Cardinals Post Game Press conference
The Oakland Raiders came away with a preseason 33-26 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night. Raiders head coach Jon Gruden talks to media after the game.
Raiders defense steps up in win over Cardinals - Video
The Oakland Raiders came away with a preseason 33-26 win over the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night. Vegas Nation host Cassie Soto and Raiders beat writer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal Myles Simmons discuss three takeaways from the win.
Vegas Nation Mailbag August 15, 2019
The Review-Journal's Heidi Fang and Ed Graney are back for a new rendition of the Vegas Nation mailbag! Send in your Raiders questions, and they'll answer them live on the stream.
Derek Carr and Jon Gruden talk Antonio Brown Return - VIDEO
Raiders Quarterback Derek Carr talks to the media about Antonio Brown's return to Napa. Head Coach Jon Gruden talks roster cuts and Brown's appearance. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Training Camp Day 12 Wrap Up - VIDEO
Michael and Myles discuss Antonio Brown's surprise appearance at Raiders Training Camp. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Antonio Brown Full Press Conference - VIDEO
Raiders Wide Receiver Antonio Brown showed up late to Tuesday's practice in Napa, California and addressed his current situations in the Raiders press conference. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Preseason Game 1 Wrap Up - VIDEO
Heidi, Adam and Michael discuss everything that happened during the Raiders first and final preseason game in Oakland,CA (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jon Gruden talks preseason excitement, Peterman and Doss TD connection
Raiders Head Coach Jon Gruden talks about the competition and excitement of preseason games. Nathan Peterman and Keelan Doss talk about their touchdown connection in Doss' hometown. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raider Fans say HBO Hard Knocks got them pumped for the season
With the Oakland Raiders being featured on HBO's Hard Knocks, the Review-Journal's Heidi Fang asked fans at training camp in Napa what they thought about the team being on the show, how their team was portrayed and their reactions to what they saw. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jon Gruden Talks Plans for Saturday's Preseason Game - VIDEO
Best of the press conference after day 2 of joint Practices with the Los Angeles Rams from Napa, CA. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Training Camp Day 11: Day 2 of Joint Practice with the Rams - VIDEO
Adam and Michael discuss everything from the final day of practice before the first preseason game against the Los Angeles Rams. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rams talk about skirmishes with the Raiders - Video
On the second day of the Los Angeles Rams and Oakland Raiders joint practices at training camp in Napa, skirmishes broke out between the teams. Rams coach Sean McVay, cornerback Marcus Peters and defensive tackle Aaron Donald talk about what happened on the field when push came to shove. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rams QB Jared Goff gives the Raiders some advice for Hard Knocks - VIDEO
After a joint practice at the Raiders NFL training camp in Napa, Rams quarterback Jared Goff gave some advice for the Raiders who are being featured on HBO's Hard Knocks. Running back Todd Gurley spoke about the Raiders rookie running back Josh Jacobs and head coach Sean McVay spoke about Lamarcus Joyner and Antonio Brown. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Training Camp LA Rams first joint practice - VIDEO
The Oakland Raider had their first joint practice with the La Rams before Saturdays first NFL preseason matchup. The Review-Journal's Michael Gehlken and Adam Hill breakdown recap the days practice.
Raider The Dog - Video
Raider The Dog gave a demonstration of his suspect apprehension abilities at Raiders Training Camp after practice in Napa. (Le'Andre Fox/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Best of Sound Day 9
The best of Jon Gruden's press conference after day 9 of Raiders Training Camp from Napa, CA
Wrap Up Day 9 - VIDEO
Adam and Michael wrap up day 9 of Raiders Training Camp from Napa,CA before the first episode of HBO's Hard Knocks airs.
Allegiant celebrates naming deal with tailgate party
Allegiant Air employees celebrate with a tailgate party after the company’s naming deal with the Raiders for the new Las Vegas stadium.
Raiders Topping Ceremony of Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas - Video
The Raiders held a topping ceremony in Las Vegas where the last beam to connect the last roof truss was hoisted into the stadium frame. The team also announced their naming rights partner, Allegiant Air. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Day 8 Wrap Up - VIDEO
Michael and Adam wrap up day 8 of Raiders Training Camp from Napa, CA
Day 7 Raiders Wrap Up - VIDEO
Michael and Adam wrap up an easy day 7 of Raiders Training Camp from Napa,CA
A look at the Raiders headquarters under construction in Henderson
Don Webb, chief operating officer of the LV Stadium Co., gives the Review-Journal a tour of the Raiders headquarters under construction in Henderson. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Training Camp Wrap Up Day 4 - VIDEO
Michael discusses everything that went on in day 4 of Raiders Training Camp before the players first day off.
Linebacker Brandon Marshall says the Raiders going to Las Vegas is a dream come true
A Cimarron-Memorial product who now plays linebacker for the Oakland Raiders says he'll do everything in his power to be a part of the 2020 roster that will play in his hometown of Las Vegas. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Raiders Training Camp Day 3 Wrap Up - VIDEO
Ed and Michael discuss the Raiders first practice in pads from Napa, Ca.
MGM Resorts views Las Vegas stadium as opportunity
MGM Resorts International intends to offer tailgating experiences at its resorts before and after events at Raiders stadium. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Mayock discusses signing Incognito
Raiders GM Mike Mayock speaks to media regarding the team signing Richie Incognito.
THE LATEST
‘Helmetgate’ is sort of drama Raiders get with Antonio Brown

How can a guy like the Pro Bowl wide receiver, who works so hard on his craft — more committed and diligent and driven than anyone, says head coach Jon Gruden and quarterback Derek Carr — also be so contentious about something like which helmet he wears?

Don Banks, giant of NFL writers, gone too soon

Banks died in his sleep early Sunday morning at the age of 57, alone in a hotel room in Canton, Ohio, having attended the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremonies and earlier filing his first story for the Review-Journal.

 
Raiders hoping Trent Brown lives up to massive paycheck

A Super Bowl champion with the Patriots last season and then made the highest paid offensive lineman in NFL history by the Raiders, Brown at right tackle will be among those protecting quarterback Derek Carr.