Knock on wood if you’re with me. Jon Gruden and the Oakland Raiders’ trip to Canada was on Hard Knocks tonight in all its glory, with roster hopefuls Jason Cabinda, Keelan Doss and Nathan Peterman featured heavily in the episode.
The show began with a look into the defensive line room where Brentson Buckner was ripping into his team. Although most Raider fans have been happy with the D-line play this preseason, Buckner told his group that he didn’t like the way some of them played and he would respect them more if they simply left, rather than going out there and playing without playing the way the Raiders expected them to. Harsh words, but if there’s one group that can use some hard coaching it’s the defensive line.
Then we’re taken through a montage of Gruden-isms including, “don’t shove sand up a flea’s ass” which, frankly, I’m at a loss to explain. “Knock on wood if you’re with me” was remixed into a hip-hop sample, and imagining Gruden as a rapper is just hilarious. Keelan Doss, Alec Ingold, and Trayvon Mullen were summoned for singing duties, to highly varied receptions and results.
Jason Cabinda showed up for perhaps the first time in the show, and was seen telling his mother than she would be going to the game in Winnipeg. Practice footage of Cabinda was shown, highlighting his troubles in coverage, but he made some great plays to redeem his overall effort. Cabinda giveth and taketh away.
Raiders tight end Luke Willson also featured prominently in the episode, as Oakland’s lone Canadian player. With the game in Canada, Willson was the resident expert on how to behave and pay for things. However, his performance in the game itself may leave him as the odd man out in the tight end group come cutdown day.
Jon Gruden spoke to the Raiders that actually made the trip, assuring them that they were there because they were good enough. This is in stark contrast to the message of Buckner earlier, which was that his players should simply commit seppuku unless they were willing to play out of their minds very soon.
The game itself was a debacle, of course, but Jon Gruden didn’t see it that way. He told his team that it didn’t matter how long the field was, they would play, and Packers coach Matt LaFleur was of the same mind. So the game went on, and the Raiders were listless until halftime when Jon Gruden gave them a rousing speech. In the second half, the Raiders didn’t give up a single point, and Cabinda played well, to the delight of his mother.
The focus was mainly on Keelan Doss and Nathan Peterman here, as the two hooked up on several plays and both played at a high level with Peterman leading the comeback. Upon Daniel Carlson’s game-winning field goal, Gruden was as excited as we’ve ever seen him, and he gave major props to Doss and Peterman after the game.
Upon returning home, Antonio Brown went to a local high school football game and greeted fans, signing autographs and taking pictures with fans for hours. He’s truly a man of the people, and the issues with his helmet were mentioned only in passing, and presented as a matter of Brown trying to ensure his own safety.
There was still no sign of Josh Jacobs in this episode, and there’s only one Hard Knocks episode remaining, coming next week. That will likely focus on final cuts, but will we see Jacobs at all? Will Keelan Doss and Nate Peterman make the team? What about Cabinda? We’ll know soon enough, and it will make for compelling television.