Zoom – Raiders’ Jon Gruden on Zoom, Theo Riddick and early practice
AT A GLANCE
This week’s schedule
All practices at Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center, unless noted:
Sunday — Off
Monday — Practice, 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m
Tuesday — Practice, 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m
Wednesday — Practice, 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m
Thursday — Off
Friday — Practice, 7:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m.
Quote of the day
Coach Jon Gruden said he expects running back Jalen Richard to return to the team early next week after opening camp on the COVID list. Richard has been able to participate remotely in team and positional meetings, something Gruden insists his team has been able to adjust to over the last 16 months.
“He’s been in every meeting on Zoom. We’re the best Zoom team in the history of the world. I don’t know if we get a medal or a trophy or what, but we are one hell of a Zoom team.”
Play(s) of the day
There were about 500 invited guests in the bleachers at the team facility on Saturday from community groups and local youth football organizations. They saved their most raucous applause for a long Derek Carr touchdown pass to Zay Jones, who continues to impress Gruden.
”He’s possibly our highest-conditioned athlete,” Gruden said of Jones. “When we traded for him, he learned our offense in a week and was starting. He’s in the mix now. He can play anywhere on our offense. He’s versatile, he’s tough, he’s smart and he’s a great competitor. I wouldn’t count him out.”
It wasn’t just the skill players putting on a show, however. The lineman were going after each other pretty good despite still not being in full pads. Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue were finding success during individual pass-rushing drills, though guard Lester Cotton Jr. more than held his own for the offense.
Rise and Shine
Gruden said he has been happy with the energy and effort from his team in the first few days of training camp, even though practices have started bright and early.
“I don’t think people realize practicing at 7:30 a.m. is unprecedented, at least in my career. To have everybody come out with that type of concentration, energy and effort is impressive. It’s hot out there. Kicking off at 7:30, guys have to get up at 5 every day. These guys must like football. That’s promising.”
So long, Theo
Friday’s retirement announcement from Theo Riddick may have been unexpected from the outside, but Gruden said the 30-year-old running back has been considering the move for some time. Fellow running back Josh Jacobs said the final straw was Riddick testing positive for COVID upon his arrival at camp.
“It’s crazy because he’s a veteran that brought a different type of mindset,” Jacobs said. “You’d never see him mad. He brought energy to the room. He always supported everybody. Before the season started, he was already hinting at retirement. It took him longer to get ready and things like that, so when he caught COVID and he has a couple young kids, he was just like, ‘Yeah, it’s time.’ We’ll still keep in contact with him for sure.”
Gruden said it’s a decision Riddick had been weighing for at least a year.
“We’re disappointed Theo chose to retire,” he said. “He was contemplating that. I think he was considering it last year. Possibly, with some of my recruiting skills, I was able to talk him out of it. He leaves a void. They called him ‘Pops.’ He was a leader. He was great for Josh and all of our guys.”
NFL Network cameras were on site for Saturday’s practice, which meant a quick reunion for Derek Carr and his brother David, an analyst for the network.
The siblings exchanged more than just pleasantries.
Derek awarded David a trophy for “Best Hair on NFL Network” in a segment that will almost certainly air at some point.