Raiders' "Hard Knocks" Short On Player Access During Roster Cuts
This season of HBO's "Hard Knocks" wrapped up last night, and it appears the Raiders were "more restrictive than teams in past years about where cameras were allowed" and how much of the final roster cut process could be shown, according to Adam Hill of the LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL. The final episode of the season "generally centers on cutdown day and the emotional conversations between coaches and the players they are sending to the unemployment line." But WR Keelan Doss and TE Luke Willson, "two of the show’s breakout stars, were released off screen." Viewers did get to see a "difficult conversation" between defensive coordinator Paul Guenther and LB Jason Cabinda (LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL, 9/4). In S.F., Matt Kawahara notes veteran LB Brandon Marshall was "among the first players the Raiders released," and last night's episode "indicates Marshall might have seen the move coming." In one sideline conversation, Marshall "sounds uncertain about his status after missing most of the spring workouts rehabbing from a knee injury" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 9/4).
SHOW STOPPERS: NFL.com's Dan Hanzus writes Raiders coach Jon Gruden has "boat raced the competition to secure 'Hard Knocks' MVP honors this summer." Hanzus: "Love him or hate him, Gruden has charisma that jumps off the screen." This was also "another strong season of narrator work" from actor Liev Schreiber (NFL.com, 9/4). USA TODAY's Jim Reineking writes Gruden is "good in front of the cameras, so it should surprise nobody" that he had a "number of good zingers" during the show. Reineking writes the winner has to be what Gruden said about Doss in Episode 2 before the team's preseason opener against the Rams: "I'm more excited to see you play than I am to see my wife, and I haven't seen her in two weeks" (USA TODAY, 9/4).
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: THE RINGER's Claire McNear writes this season was a "drag." McNear: "For all the seeming intrigue of a team on the precipice -- of leaving the city where it was formed, and maybe, just maybe, of success -- we got a snoozefest instead." The move to Las Vegas "went all but unaddressed, with exactly no sentimentality expended on the idea of playing one final season in Oakland." More McNear: "The preseason’s biggest question -- what in tarnation is going on with Antonio Brown? -- went unresolved: We got scant few details about the foot and helmet issues that have kept him off the field." The show’s attempts to "manufacture additional drama in the usual Hard Knocks mold -- the heartbreak of a fan favorite getting cut, say, or a quarterback battle -- were for naught: None of the would-be charmers ever really got the screentime necessary for investment" (THERINGER.com, 9/4). In San Jose, Chuck Barney writes the show was an "uneven disappointment in which compelling storylines were lacking." Barney: "Ditto actual news" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 9/4).