ALAMEDA – Left guard Richie Incognito signed with the Raiders on May 28 and was inserted into the first unit that very day. Denzelle Good was unavailable for the afternoon OTA session, and the 35-year old 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.
The four-time Pro Bowl interior lineman made a good first impression that has carried on through the offseason program's final stretch.
"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 Denzelle Good the primary option after Kelechi Osemele was traded this offseason to the New York Jets.
"We need to solidify that position. 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."
He 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 he'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."
Incognito has not yet been made available to the media since joining the Raiders. That could happen this week or after training camp begins.