After a long offseason, the Raiders are ready for training camp.
Rookies and a few veterans are due to report Tuesday, with the first practice set for Friday at the team’s Napa facility.
The quest to improve from 4-12 into a contending team in the AFC West will be challenging and the road filled with obstacles.
But for Raiders fans it also may be the most entertaining and interesting training camp in years. Why? Two words: "Hard Knocks."
The Raiders will be the featured team on the annual HBO series that will document the trials and tribulations of the team’s players and coaches as they go through the process of training camp, the exhibition season and roster cuts.
If head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock had their way, "Hard Knocks" would be at some other team’s training camp this week, but they don’t, so they’ll have to make the best of it.
"I didn’t volunteer for this, and neither did Mike Mayock," Gruden told Jerry McDonald of the Bay Area News Group. "We’re going to do the best we can and be professional, but this isn’t our idea. … It’s been placed on our plate by the NFL, and so be it."
"Hard Knocks" comes with a 32-person film crew and cameras everywhere, documenting what they see. The crew already has spent time at Derek Carr’s house before camp.
Recently, Ken Rodgers, the coordinating producer of the show, said he’s eager for camp to start because the Raiders – from Gruden to Antonio Brown, Carr and three first-round draft picks – have some juicy storylines.
"I’m attracted to this team because it’s a great football story," Rodgers told Michael Gehlken of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "The personalities will be there. That’s always helpful in terms of being a storyteller. But Jon Gruden isn’t a ‘Monday Night Football’ analyst anymore and Mike Mayock isn’t a TV analyst for NFL Network anymore. They are football men trying to turn around a football team that has a lot of questions in terms of roster spots."