“Hard Knocks” tends to spend significant time with star players in early episodes of the long-running HBO documentary series and, as you’d expect, Antonio Brown, Derek Carr and Jon Gruden were feature players in Tuesday night’s season premiere.
But the show creates a buzz around some lesser-known members of the team as well, and the Raiders had some breakout stars in episode No. 1.
There were three in this one, including a rookie fans must already love:
The first-round draft pick was a main character in the first episode and should be a staple throughout the series. The Mississippi State alum was equal parts hilarious and passionate about the game, starring in most of the show’s best segments.
He started off by dinging Carr’s car after showing up to training camp with $500 in Target snacks.
That’s a rookie’s job and while Abram did it, he disliked the term.
“I hate being called ‘rook,’” Abram said. “That’s one of my biggest pet peeves so far.”
His horseback riding session with fellow first-round draft pick Clelin Ferrell stole the show – somebody get these guys a web series! -- with a great rapport between the two young defensive players.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) August 7, 2019
Abram plays aggressively at all times and talks a fair amount of trash, as we learned, and had to dial it back upon Jon Gruden’s instruction.
Abram wasn’t done, even after three solid segments.
An excellent one came when Carr took the rookies out for dinner. Abram’s response to Carr’s event was simple, yet hilarious: “I didn’t eat today on purpose, so I can order everything on the menu.”
Maybe not the salmon. He didn’t know how to pronounce the popular fish, “I’m from the country. We ain’t going to say ‘sa-mmon’. How to do say it? ‘Sall-mon?’” He also jokingly questioned how Carr will get his kids to work after signing a $125 million contract.
Raiders defensive line coach Brentson Buckner has always been a character and an excellent quote, even during his playing days as a standout defensive tackle. He was engaging and funny in the premiere.
His best line came with an explanation after a young lineman made a mistake and Buckner pulled him on the next practice play.
“We’ll bring you out, cuss you out and then put you back in,” Buckner said.
He also tried to help Ronald Ollie before he got cut last week, but was upset with the "Last Chance U" star after he didn’t go to a morning treatment session.
“In camp, you eat, treat, sleep and meat,” Buckner said. “You can’t miss.”
The seven-man sled
According to the show, the Raiders are one of the few teams that still use a seven-man sled. The old-school equipment requires precision and technique and can be difficult to operate without those things.
NFL Films reached back into their archives, and let former Raiders coach John Madden explain it.
“It would get rid of all hangovers,” Madden said in footage from 2000. “…Everyone has to hit the sled at the same time or it doesn’t work.”