With each episode of HBO’s ‘Hard Knocks’ featuring the Oakland Raiders, the fans have gotten a more inside look into what is going on in the organization, and the third episode, in particular, was incredibly entertaining.
We all knew that the Raiders had a lot of characters in their organization and that starts at the top with head coach Jon Gruden, but seeing those different personalities mesh together has been really fun to watch.
Gruden was the star of Episode 3, cracking jokes, cussing at his team for good and bad things and just showing his TV-made personality off seemingly the entire hour.
Even fake Jon Gruden made an appearance as impression extraordinaire Frank Caliendo showed up to Raiders camp and did his best Gruden impression. What made it so funny was that not only was the team loving it, but even Gruden himself could not help but crack a smile in the back.
As many fans were hoping for, Episode 3 also spent time telling the story of tight end Darren Waller, who has been through a lot in his career. Waller opened up about his previous drug addiction for the first time as he celebrated being sober for two years.
In addition to his great story off the field, it is also clear that the Raiders have high expectations for Waller on the field this season as he is a breakout candidate across the league.
Hard Knocks highlighted Waller’s athleticism and he also received praise from a number of teammates, putting fans in a position to root for him even more than before.
Lastly, of course, Episode 3 spent a lot of its time addressing the Antonio Brown situation. Brown has spent a lot of time away from the team this training camp due to frostbite in his feet and a helmet issue with the league.
Brown’s feet injuries seem to be a thing of the past as he returned to the practice field and was shown looking healthy working out, but the helmet problem has still not been resolved.
Gruden made it a point to show that he remains in support of Brown and the wide receiver even thanked his head coach for that, but general manager Mike Mayock expressed his frustration when Brown was away from the team for a second time. He challenged Brown to be ‘all-in or all-out’ and Brown responded by returning to camp the next day.
While Brown has caused a lot of frustration within the organization and fanbase as everyone is hoping this drama will just end, Episode 3 did nothing to show that he won’t be ready for Week 1 of the regular season. It also showed he has maintained a good relationship with his teammates and coaches, so the cause for concerns still remains low.
It cannot be emphasized enough how silly and unnecessary the helmet situation is though.
Other highlights of the episode included the team making fun of rookie wide receiver Hunter Renfrow for his small size and looking older than he is, and tight end Luke Wilson complaining about his calf muscles being too small. Gruden interacting with quarterbacks Mike Glennon and Nathan Peterman, who are battling for the backup job, has also been fun to watch the entire series.