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Raiders hit the road for first time during coronavirus pandemic

Jon Gruden prepares team for an unusual travel protocol

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos
Jon Gruden
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

When the Las Vegas Raiders opened training camp in July, coach Jon Gruden talked about “crushing” the coronavirus.

And on Friday, just before his team departed for Carolina to face the Panthers in front of zero fans Sunday in the season opener, Gruden expressed frustrated the pandemic is still an issue, but he knows it is the reality.

The NFL has clear guidelines for travel. No team personnel can leave the hotel upon arrival. All meetings and meals will be held in the hotel on Friday, Saturday and Sunday morning before the Raiders head to Bank of America Stadium in downtown Charlotte.

The travel rules are at the forefront of Gruden’s mind:

“It’s very strict, and I give credit (to the NFL) for making it strict. This virus is still knocking people to their knees. It ticks me off. We got to do a better job discipling ourselves. We can’t let up. We’re getting better, but the NFL has given stringent rules for what we can and can’t do and we have to follow them. And we got go excessive, I think in terms of making sure we do it.”

Gruden has also prepared his team to deal with the artificial fan noise that will be played at Carolina in the absence of fans. The Raiders have practiced with it this week. It’s just part of the new world in the NFL, Gruden said.

“I think there is 70 pages of protocol that we have really paid very particular attention to. We had different volumes. I don’t know what the word is, decibels. I don’t even know what that word is, but we’ve had different noise frequencies. We’ll be ready for any artificial noise that they have.”