As much as he tries to downplay the significance Kony Ealy Jersey , Oakland Raiders coach Jon Gruden is fully aware Friday's exhibition game against the Detroit Lions will be anything but an ordinary preseason contest.It's been 17 years since Gruden last roamed the sidelines at the Coliseum with the Raiders. He came back in 2004 with Tampa Bay and again in 2012 as a television analyst.|
Gruden's iconic status among Raiders fans promises to make this time different. Much, much different.
"I am looking forward to it," Gruden said Wednesday after the second of two joint practices with the Lions. "I'm looking forward to it big-time. I've got some things obviously I've got to work out. So I've got to work myself through calling plays again and managing some tough situations. I'm anxious to see if I can do it."
Gruden developed a cult-like following during his first stint as the Raiders coach from 1998-2001. Those feelings didn't wane when Gruden was traded to Tampa Bay by late owner Al Davis and only strengthened when the coach went into the television booth.
Gruden showed his appreciation in 2009 while in town to broadcast a San Francisco 49ers game when he held a party at Ricky's, a Raiders sports bar not far from the Coliseum.
Gruden held another party at Ricky's three weeks ago to celebrate his return and paid for dinner and soft drinks for the fans. About 600 people showed up.
"It's an honor to be here and it's a great story, but I also just want to do everything I can in order to try and help this team win again," Gruden said. "I love the Raider fans. I love Oakland and that's the primary reason I'm standing here."
Lions coach Matt Patricia developed a friendship with Gruden while he was defensive coordinator in New England and the Raiders coach was working at ESPN.
Gruden's return, Patricia said, is good for the NFL.
"If you meet with him, you're gonna find a guy that absolutely loves football from its core, all the way out Kyle Long Jersey , every aspect of it," Patricia said. "He loves to coach and I think he loves to be around the players. I think it's great for the game. I think it's great for the Raiders organization."
The rest of the storyline around Friday's game is fairly antiseptic.
Quarterback Derek Carr and the rest of Oakland's starters will only play a series or two, with the majority of playing time being doled out to the rookies and fringe players on the roster.
"This game is not about Derek Carr, not yet," Gruden said. "It's about finding the right 53 men, and I think you saw it today, we've got a lot of contenders. There are a lot of guys that have put themselves on the brink of making this football team and we've got to make sure we give them every opportunity to showcase their skills."
Notes: Former Raiders Warren Sapp and James Jones attended practice, along with ex-Lions coach and current NFL Network analyst Steve Mariucci. . LT Donald Penn continues to rehab from offseason foot surgery and is getting closer to getting back on the field. "Our trainer is pleased with the progress that he's made," Gruden said. "Hopefully that time is soon."
Offensive lineman Wyatt Teller doesn't need a scouting report to see what's happening with the Buffalo Bills.He knows his newest team made a splash to open the draft, with a potential franchise quarterback and defensive game-changer arriving in the top half of the first round.
Wyatt got a first-hand look at former Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen Andrew Billings Jersey , whom the Bills selected seventh overall, while blocking for him on the North team at the Senior Bowl. Tremaine Edmunds, taken 16th overall by Buffalo, was Wyatt's teammate in college at Virginia Tech.
"Tremaine, in my opinion, is an absolute stud. He's one of the best players I've ever played against," Teller said. "(Allen's) deep ball is unlike anything I've ever seen. He can chuck a ball and he's a smart kid. I see an identity coming. You're getting both sides of the ball and this is a place I wanted to go."
Teller joined that duo on Saturday as part of Buffalo's youth movement.
Selected 166th overall, the fifth-round pick may help to fill an unexpected hole along the offensive line. Center Eric Wood abruptly retired at the end of last season after doctors uncovered a career-ending neck injury at his exit physical.
Veteran guard Richie Incognito stunned the team by announcing his retirement earlier this month.
At 6-foot-4, 314 pounds, Teller has the size and power to make an impact in the NFL. He bench presses 420 pounds Kevin White Jersey , squats 600 pounds and is known for his ability to handle defenders in the run game. He has already made one successful transition, moving from the defensive line in high school to the offensive line at Virginia Tech.
Some projections had Teller going as high as the third round, and he'll likely compete for a starting job at guard as a rookie.
"Everything comes down to competition," Teller said. "Everything comes down to working as hard as you can. If I want to make that transition from college to the NFL, it's basically like switching a position. It's going to be difficult and it's all about competing."
Here are some observations about the Bills' draft.
KEEPING THEIR EDGE: One key for the Bills was landing two top-end prospects at premium positions without mortgaging the future or giving away their surplus of picks.
The Bills entered the week with a bounty of draft capital and were able to trade up twice in the first round without surrendering their second first-round pick or any 2019 selections.
"I have got to be honest, I did not expect to be able to get a quarterback and Tremaine," Bills general manager Brandon Beane said.
"I thought we were going to have to give up the 22nd pick. Tremaine would have been in our conversation at 12 if we did not move up and we did not have a quarterback we liked. When he was there and he fell a little bit, we just felt it was such a good fit that we had to go up and get him."
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON? : Buffalo's final pick of the draft was North Carolina wide receiver Austin Proehl, son of former NFL wideout Ricky Proehl. Buffalo chose Austin Proehl with the second-to-last pick of the draft at 255th overall. Ricky Proehl played in the league for 17 seasons Deion Sanders Jersey , making 669 receptions for 8,878 yards and 54 touchdowns while winning a Super Bowl with the St. Louis Rams. Austin Proehl had 91 receptions for 1,265 yards and five touchdowns in four years with the Tar Heels.
Beane has known Austin Proehl longer than any other prospect given his relationship with Ricky Proehl. Beane was with the Panthers when Ricky played for Carolina from 2004-06, and Ricky was a member of the Panthers' coaching staff from 2011-17.
"I've known him since he was eight, so I've known him for a long time," Beane said of Austin. "We were still looking for competition at the slot position and he was on the board. He's a great young man obviously. We know what kind of person (he is). He's a really polished route runner, refined. He was schooled up by a guy who played 17 years in the league."
MORE DB DEPTH: Buffalo's best position group got even deeper on Day 3 with the selections of cornerback Taron Johnson (121st overall) and safety Siran Neal (154th overall). Johnson is the early favorite to land Buffalo's nickel cornerback role. Neal will have a hard time earning playing time to open his career with standouts Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer ahead of him on the depth chart.
STILL NEED: The Bills chose two receivers late in the draft with Ray-Ray McCloud (sixth round) and Austin Proehl (seven round), but they still desperately need help after fielding one of the worst receiving groups in the league in 2017.
Buffalo does have Kelvin Benjamin returning after playing through much of last season with a knee injury. More speed and experience would be a plus, especially with unproven talent at quarterback in Josh Allen and AJ McCarron.
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