Rodney Hudson brings academic approach to Raiders' offensive front

Rodney Hudson brings academic approach to Raiders' offensive front

NAPA – Rodney Hudson is a realist. The Raiders center somehow strips emotion from a job that’s essentially hand-to-hand combat, keeping a clear head in all situations.

He considers it part of the job description, to keep everyone grounded when tensions and tempers flare. He, therefore, won’t let the offensive line wallow in last year’s 51-sack disappointment. He won’t let it revel in this summer’s positive press or the prospect that 2019 might mark a return to the offensive-line dominance of a few years ago.

He prefers both feet firmly on the ground, the mind lost in the daily grind. He wants those around him equally centered, keeping heads out of the clouds.

“That’s part of my job, but I haven’t had to remind people of that in this camp,” Hudson said Friday in a one-on-one interview with NBC Sports Bay Area. “Guys are always picking out one or two things they need to work on for the next day, and that’s what I want to see. That’s the most important thing. What do you need to study or correct from one opportunity to the next? What are you doing well that you can build upon? You have to compartmentalize that way, and that’s the way we’re doing it.”

That’s a grand compliment coming from Hudson. It also means the offensive line has fallen in line behind him. He is, after all, the glue that binds unique personalities and playing styles together.

Kolton Miller is precise. Richie Incognito can be nasty. Gabe Jackson’s a mauler and Trent Brown is, well, a mountain.

Hudson is the academic and the line’s unquestioned leader. His cerebral approach to the game is a luxury in the trenches, where emotions run high and can negatively cloud execution.

They trust it instinctively, mostly because Hudson’s never wrong.

“Rodney is super smart,” Miller said. “I think he identified every pressure. I’m not sure if he missed one pressure last year, so he gets the game for sure. Having him on the team is a huge asset.”

Hudson admits he can see the matrix. He’s confident in his ability to diagnose defenses and anticipate exactly how they’ll attack.

That doesn’t come naturally. Hudson works at it, day and night, over insane hours his wife Amber considers part of the job.

“Luckily for me, she’s cool with it,” Hudson said with a smile. “She knows my routine, and she understands it. It’s hard to say exactly much I study, but it’s countless hours throughout the day and night. All I know is that it’s a lot. It’s every day when I’m at the facility. I look at film when I get home. Before I go to bed, it’s one of the last things I do, to make sure I see something again and again.”

Hudson has rules to handle unscouted looks, but he’s so well versed in opposing tendencies and personnel by game day that he’s never caught off balance.

“I just try to prepare as much as I can so I can play as hard and as fast as I can,” Hudson said. “I guess I do look at it in an academic sense, but only in how it helps you anticipate what’s going to happen. Sometimes you absolutely know what’s going to happen. You still have to execute, but you can play physical and play fast.”

He also plays extremely well. Analytics site Pro Football Focus considers him the NFL’s best pass-blocking center. They have credited him with just one sack allowed in his last three seasons. He’s a team captain and a respected presence in the meeting room.

The Raiders value that, and are trying to work out a contract extension to keep him in silver and black. He’s in the final year of a deal signed in 2015, and certainly is deserving of top market value. Hudson didn’t want to discuss a possible extension at this time, preferring to keep focus on the upcoming season. He wasn’t ever going to hold out in camp for a deal right now. That’s not in his nature. Neither is discussing personal business that could be a distraction to the team’s on-field goals.

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He wants to be a unifying presence and a resource for young players and veterans alike to increase their football knowledge in order to play better together.

“There are so many open books on this team, and yeah, I’m one of them,” Hudson said. “All you have to do is ask. Those meetings and interactions are always going on. I think that’s part of our job, to help out young guys. That’s a big part of it. There’s a jump going from a chalkboard to making it happen on the field. We can help guys make that jump, and you can learn how they think so, when you’re working together during a game, you’re on the same page without actually talking.”

How Oakland Coliseum has been 'legendary' even for newest Raiders

How Oakland Coliseum has been 'legendary' even for newest Raiders

ALAMEDA -- You don't have to be Derek Carr, Jon Gruden or a Raiders legend to appreciate what the Coliseum has meant to the franchise. 

It was a state-of-the-art facility and helped legitimize the Raiders when they moved into the building in 1966. It has been the home of a number of memorable Raider moments and has served as a second home for the legion of fans who pack it on fall Sundays to make life hell on the opposition. 

It no longer is state-of-the-art. It has a myriad of issues and the Raiders are waving goodbye after Sunday's game against the Jaguars, as the franchise relocates to Las Vegas in 2020. 

Most of the current Raiders haven't had many moments at all in the Coliseum. Only six current Raiders have been with the franchise for more than three seasons, with Carr and guard Gabe Jackson being the longest-tenured Raiders. Both were drafted in 2014. 

But even those who have only donned the silver and black for a short period of time know how important Sunday's farewell is. 

"It'll be exciting, I'm really looking forward to it," guard Richie Incognito, who only has played four games in the Coliseum, said after the Raiders' Week 14 loss to the Titans. "I got a bunch of family coming in to experience it. We're new to Oakland but the fans are awesome. They were rocking today, they were loud. I think next week will be a special moment for everybody involved." 

Last year was Daryl Worley's first season in Oakland. The Coliseum goodbye that wasn't a season ago didn't really impact him. 

But things have changed after spending another season with the Silver and Black. 

"Hopefully, it's going to be for real this time," Worley said of saying farewell a second time to the Coliseum. "It's definitely going to be emotional. Last year when I was here on a one-year thing, you just don't get the full feel. But coming back Year 2, just seeing what it means to Raider Nation, it's definitely a lot more emotional. 

"You really get to see -- around the town, around the entire Bay Area -- I mean there are two teams out here but it kinda seems that Raider Nation, they always have that fan base that is strong and passionate about everything that's going on with the players. It's going to be tough to leave a place like this even though going on to Vegas, I don't think this fan base will waver at all. 

"It's an amazing place," Worley continued. "For it to be an outdoor stadium, you would think that it's indoors the way that it rocks. Between the Black Hole to the costumes, it's definitely a legendary experience."

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The Raiders come in riding a three-game losing streak. While snapping that run of Ls is important, especially if the team has any hope of a miracle playoff push, it means more for the Raiders to give the Nation one more W in the house of loud. 

"It's definitely a big motivation and we feel like we owe it to everyone here," Worley said.

Doug Marrone, Jaguars preparing for Raiders in emotional Oakland finale

Doug Marrone, Jaguars preparing for Raiders in emotional Oakland finale

ALAMEDA -- Sunday won't be an ordinary Week 15 game between two teams that have dropped out of playoff contention. 

The Oakland Coliseum will be rocking, as those who bleed silver and black say their final farewell to the Raiders when they take on the 4-9 Jacksonville Jaguars. Most of the young Jaguars haven't played in the Coliseum, but head coach Doug Marrone is well aware of what his scuffling team will face Sunday afternoon. 

"Absolutely. I think that, we kind of polled today, we don’t have a lot of players that have played at Oakland and we tried to give them a sense of ... and when I say crazy atmosphere, I mean that in a very positive sense," Marrone said on a conference call with Bay Area media Wednesday. "We talked about the locker room and we’ve talked about it. I think it will be an emotional day for a lot of people there and I had a good relationship with Mr. [Al] Davis. When I was the head coach at Syracuse, we’d meet every year and there will be a lot of emotion knowing that finally, I know last year they went through it a little bit, but the finality of it being the last game for sure." 

Marrone was drafted by the Los Angeles Raiders out of Davis' alma mater Syracuse in 1986. He didn't make the 53-man roster and never donned the silver and black inside the Coliseum. Despite never being a Raider, Marrone had a good relationship with late owner Al Davis and came to the Coliseum as an offensive line coach for the New York Jets in the early 2000s. 

Even for Marrone, it will be weird for the Raiders to no longer call the Coliseum home. 

"When I was with the Jets and we would go out there, we’d always warm-up and I had the offensive line with me and I had a bunch of veteran guys who we’d warm up in the one corner of the end zone and for some reason, there was one guy, he was all over me," Marrone said recalling his time as a visitor in the Coliseum. "Like he was killing me, not the players, me. And the players would come up to me and go, ‘Coach, you going to take that (expletive) from that guy? Like, if he did that (expletive) to me, I would go up in the stands. You need to go up in the stands, you need to confront that.’ And I’d be like, ‘Shut the hell up, would you? We’re just going to go ahead and play.’

"But I just remember those times and the playoff game up there when I was in New York and just how crazy it can be and it’s a special place. I remember going up there back in the day and you look over at pregame warmup and Mr. Davis would be down on the sideline. A lot of the old Raiders would be there and so I think for me there will be a point I think, ‘Wow! I can’t believe the Oakland Raiders are moving.’”

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After three consecutive losses, the Raiders no longer find themselves in the playoff hunt. There will be no playoff goodbye for the hallowed grounds that hold so many Raider memories. 

Jon Gruden, Derek Carr and these Raiders have but one more chance to give those who love the Raiders so dearly a final memory of a building and franchise that means so much to them. 

That's bad news for Marrone and the Jags.