Rodney Hudson showed up on the Raiders injury report Sunday afternoon, hours before an evening showdown with the Dallas Cowboys. Hudson had an illness. No other details were provided.
The Raiders center joined his teammates in pregame warmups, looking ready to go after some additional cardio work. He was active against the Cowboys, started, played every snap and didn’t miss a beat.
Hudson didn’t allow a single quarterback pressure, and rushers totaled 29 yards on six carries through gaps on his immediate right and left.
Hudson did not fight through flu-like symptoms. Dude was dealing with kidney stones.
“He was having significant pain leading up to the game, and was able to somehow tough it out,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “Obviously, modern medicine helped a little. … Pretty remarkable for a guy to be there for his teammates. There was never doubt. It was like, ‘Hey, are you going to be OK?’ He was like, ‘I’m playing.’ From the very beginning it was like, ‘I’m going, I’m going to be there.’ I just wanted to point it out because I really admire when a guy goes above and beyond like that.”
His performance in adverse conditions was standard operating procedure. Hudson has allowed one quarterback pressure all season, per analytics site Pro Football Focus, and has been an anchor in the run game.
Hudson was named to his second straight Pro Bowl on Tuesday, as deserving as anyone on the roster. He has been excellent since signing a five-year, $44.6-million contract early in the 2015 offseason.
“He’s the best center in all of football,” Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said a two weeks ago. “The thing that people don’t get to see is what he can do mentally. Obviously, you can’t see that, but when certain things happen and certain blitzes are picked up and things like that, that’s a lot of hard work. I’ve never been around a guy that studies as much as a quarterback, you know what I mean? He’s one of those guys. The way he watches film and prepares, not only for his individual matchups, but the way he can study a defensive coordinator, it’s very special.”
Hudson studies tons of tape, and can dissect exactly where breakdowns occurred in an offensive season plagued by inconsistency. Hudson’s an exemption to that rule. He’s as steady as they come, as a player, team captain and leader of the offensive line, and commits significant time to breaking down his unit and opposing defenses.
“I try to be,” Hudson said. “I try to learn something every day, because there’s always going to be something you’ve seen before. You have to learn from mistakes, and grow from what we do well.
“It takes a lot of studying. I try my best to study a lot of film and pick up on certain things so, we come across 15-20 plays come up in a game where I know exactly what they’re going to do before they do it.”
Hudson isn’t a loud locker-room voice but is vocal in meeting rooms and strategy sessions, and his presence is a steadying influence in the middle of a talented offensive line.
“He is the staple holding this thing together,” offensive coordinator Todd Downing said two weeks ago. “He is so smart and so gifted in terms of (identifying) defenses and making the protection calls and the run game calls and all that. He is a tireless studier, a guy that just works and grinds and is a great example to those around him. But I think that you’ve seen him grow in his comfort level even in the things we’re doing schematically, so that he’s able to ID things properly, get us into the right spots and right combinations.
“He’s a warrior. He’s an old soul. You spend some time around him, and you feel like you’re talking to your 50-year-old uncle. He’s definitely a guy that kind of is the glue of this thing.”