ALAMEDA – Left guard Richie Incognito signed with the Raiders on May 28 and was inserted into the first unit that same day. Denzelle Good was unavailable for the afternoon OTA session, and the 35-year-old Incogntio stepped right in without skipping a beat.
He came to Alameda in great physical shape, prepared to re-join a team after a year away from the NFL.
Good hasn't returned yet, giving Incognito plenty of opportunities to make a good first impression. That included Tuesday afternoon's minicamp practice, where the four-time Pro Bowler worked again with the first-unit offensive line.
"He's pretty good," Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said Tuesday, during this week's Raiders minicamp. "I like him. He's a Pro Bowl left guard. The last time he strapped it on, he wasn't just good. He was one of the best."
Gruden wanted to bring an established veteran in at that spot, with Good the primary option after Kelechi Osemele was traded this offseason to the New York Jets.
"We need to solidify that position," Gruden said. "It was a sore spot for us last year. We played four different left guards, and that hurt us. We had injuries and more injuries and then we had some more. Hopefully Richie finds his stride like he had a couple years ago. When he's right, he's one of the best in football."
Incognito also comes with some baggage after several off-field incidents, including a few within the last year. One that resulted in a disorderly conduct conviction that could bring a NFL suspension, something the Raiders are aware might happen. He also walked away from the Bills, before stepping away from football last year. But, Gruden believes Incognito's fully committed to this Raiders endeavor and doing it right.
"I've spent a lot of time talking with Richie, and this is not a far-fetched comeback that he's trying to make," Gruden said. "This is something he has thought a lot about. He walked away from the game for very good reasons; I'm not going to get into that. We like where he is. We like what he's done and the potential of what he can do for us."
Joint practices with Rams possible
Gruden and LA Rams head coach Sean McVay have spoken a few times about coordinating joint training-camp practices in Napa heading into the preseason opener in Oakland, but nothing is set in stone at this point.
"Nothing is 100 percent finalized yet," Gruden said, "but, if possible, I think that might benefit both of us. We are in the final stages of trying to work something out."
If the Rams come to town, they would be featured with the Raiders on "Hard Knocks." The Silver and Black will be the team followed on this year's show.
New travel plans
The Raiders left for their 2018 game in London at the last possible minute. They arrived in England on a Friday and played two days later. While that wasn't the only reason the Seattle Seahawks kicked the Raiders' tail, it certainly didn't help.
Gruden is changing course this season, leaving right after a road game at Indianapolis to spending the week in England preparing to play the Chicago Bears at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
"You try to research it, some people try to stay the least amount of time as possible because they want to put the preparation in at home and not be in a foreign country, in a different bed for five or six nights," Gruden said. "This year, I think we will probably go over after that game (at the Colts) and get acclimated to the time zone and get ready for Chicago, but will address that here in the next couple months."
This ‘n that
The Raiders looked crisp in their first minicamp practice on Tuesday, the final stretch of this year's offseason program, despite running it in 100-degree heat. … Wide receiver Antonio Brown was a highlight as usual, beating safety Curtis Riley bad on a deep touchdown pass. He never let a ball hit the turf, and showed excellent sideline skill yet again. … Owner Mark Davis was at Tuesday's practice, speaking with general manager Mike Mayock, equipment manager Bob Romanski, several players and agent Drew Rosenhaus during the session. … Cornerback Gareon Conley was among a few prominent players missing Tuesday's on-field work. Nick Nelson and Nevin Lawson filled in for him at outside cornerback. Linebacker Brandon Marshall, offensive linemen Jordan Devey, Denzelle Good, cornerback Isaiah Johnson and wide receiver Saeed Blacknall did not practice, though the entire squad was in Alameda for the mandatory three-day stretch. … Rookie wide receiver Keelan Doss showed strong route running with one well-timed catch in particular showcasing that ability. … Punter Johnny Townsend had a good day in special-teams periods, with Hunter Renfrow, Dwayne Harris, Jalen Richard and Rico Gafford back returning them.