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Building Raiders roster a 'team effort' for Gruden, McKenzie

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AP

Building Raiders roster a 'team effort' for Gruden, McKenzie

ORLANDO, Fla. – Raiders head coach Jon Gruden is a popular guy, widely respected among players and in NFL circles. The same can be said for his coordinators and many position coaches.

General manager Reggie McKenzie understands that. He used those assets to help recruit free agents to Oakland.

He also remains in close communication with those designing new Raiders schemes. Jon Gruden’s in charge of the offense, while coordinator Paul Guenther will install a new defense.

McKenzie is focused on getting guys they want, guys who will fit well within new schemes.

“One thing about Gruden is that I know exactly what he wants, which is great for me,” McKenzie said Monday in a meeting with Raiders beat writers at the NFL owners meetings. “I know exactly what is needed for his (offensive) system. It’s the same with (defensive coordinator Paul Guenther). I know exactly what kind of players they want at each position. That makes my job a lot easier, instead of trying to figure out what works best."

Raiders owner Mark Davis told NBC Sports Bay Area on Sunday that McKenzie plays a different role with Gruden in the mix, and that the head coach’s vision for the team is most important.

“That vision, and that direction is going to be helpful to Reggie more so than not,” Davis said. “I think they’ll work together very well.”

McKenzie agrees. He praised the level of communication with Gruden and his assistants and believes they executed an aggressive free-agency plan well working together.

“The communication is constant, and I’m not just talking about Coach Gruden,” McKenzie said. “I’m talking about the entire staff. It’s well-received.”

The Raiders signed 20 guys in free agency, with 16 new faces and four returners thus far, at least after Reggie Nelson’s deal becomes official in the coming days. McKenzie used the coaching staff to help close deals, and get guys they coveted.

“It’s a team effort, I’m telling you,” McKenzie said. “The good part about it, is that players want to come. Players want to be coached by our guys. When we can get coaches heavily involved in communicating with those guys and when we get those guys in the building, our coaches did a great job recruiting those (free-agent signings).”

Cal grad Ryan Murphy pushes car as part of Olympic swimming training

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Getty

Cal grad Ryan Murphy pushes car as part of Olympic swimming training

Ryan Murphy won three gold medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics, setting a world record in the process. After that, he returned to Cal only to add to a historical career.

As the timeline approaches three weeks until what would have been the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Murphy understood he, along with other athletes, had to do their part in order to maintain safety during the coronavirus pandemic. 

“It was really challenging to have that maturity to realize that it’s not all about sports and we’ve got to protect our communities,” Murphy told Mike Tirico on NBC Sports’ Lunch Talk Live.

That doesn’t mean he’s not training, of course.

Murphy credited doing pull-ups on trees, running up hills and even pushing cars in order to stay in shape during a time like this as he preps for 2021. 

No, seriously:

The 2017 Cal grad finished his collegiate career becoming the fourth man in NCAA history to sweep both distances of one stroke all four years (the 100- and 200-yard backstroke).

He remains in Berkeley where he continues to train. 

How to watch Indy 500 Special: Back Home Again on NBC, streaming online

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USATSI

How to watch Indy 500 Special: Back Home Again on NBC, streaming online

Racing fans were hoping to watch the 2020 Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

But due to the global coronavirus pandemic, the 104th running of the race has been postponed until Aug. 23.

Don't worry, though. NBC has you covered with a special re-airing of the 2019 Indianapolis 500 with added features.

NBC Sports' Mike Tirico will host "Indy 500 Special: Back Home Again" on Sunday. The program will feature fresh commentary and special interviews with 2019 Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud and runner-up Alexander Rossi.

Here's how you can watch "Indy 500 Special: Back Home Again" online and on TV:

When: Sunday, May 24, 2020 at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT
TV: NBC
Stream: NBCSports.com