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Obi Melifonwu ‘feels pressure’ to get back on field, Raiders targeting training camp

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NFL: Oakland Raiders at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

There is nothing like the pressure felt in the NFL. And Jon Gruden is a master at dialing up pressure to get the most from his players.

We have our first big moment of that from Gruden where he narrowed in on a player and really made it clear that he is disappointed so far. The unlucky player to be the focus of Gruden’s attention was Raiders 2nd round pick from the 2017 draft, safety Obi Melifonwu. who hasn’t been able to participate fully in OTA practices.

“He doesn’t look close to me at all,” Jon Gruden said of Melifonwu. He went on to say “Haven’t seen much of Obi. Except in the training room.”

After such a blunt assessment from Gruden it didn’t look great for Obi Melifonwu.

Gruden mentioned the safety again in his conference call with season ticket holders. He softened it a little by mentioning he is working hard and doing everything he can, but he also made sure to lay out the expectation of having him back by training camp.

“Obi Melifonwu is still injured. He’s working hard to get back on the field. I think he feels the pressure and the urgency to get out there. He’s doing everything that he can, but we do expect to have him for training camp.” Gruden said.

“We’re very encouraged with what Conley has done so far and we’re also optimistic that Obi will be back soon.”

Gruden acknowledging Melifonwu is working hard to get back to the field after being so clearly disappointed in him the day before is a step forward at least. If you had to chose one word to describe the tone of Gruden’s analysis on Tuesday it would definitely not be “optimistic” anyway.

Melifonwu has had injury issues since he arrived in Oakland. He was placed on injured reserve to begin last season, returned to appear in five games before getting injured again and placed back on injured reserve.

It will be interesting to see if Obi Melifonwu responds well to Gruden’s pressure and if it shows up on the field when training camp starts. It would be even more interesting to hear the assessment from Gruden if Melifonwu isn’t on the field in July, but hopefully it doesn’t come to that.