After nine seasons without competition in the broadcast booth Youth Greg Olsen Jersey , Jon Gruden needed only a few plays of the exhibition season to get his old sideline persona back.
A holding call that wiped out a touchdown brought out the temper that earned Gruden a nickname from the slasher movie "Child's Play" during his first stint as coach in Oakland.
"Chucky came out for a brief moment right there," Gruden said.
It was a moment Raiders fans had been waiting for ever since Gruden was traded to Tampa Bay following the 2001 season. Oakland lost the Super Bowl to Gruden and the Buccaneers the following year and managed just one more winning record since.
Owner Mark Davis had been recruiting Gruden since he took over the franchise following the death of his father, Al, in 2011, and finally got his man this past offseason with a $100 million, 10-year contract to replace Jack Del Rio following a 6-10 season.
"It's an honor to be back here and it's a great story, but I also just want to do everything I can to try to help this team win again," Gruden said. "I love the Raider fans, I love Oakland, and that's the primary reason why I'm standing here."
The love is mutual, as evidenced by the hundreds of fans who showed up at a preseason party hosted by Gruden at a local sports bar, and the excited crowds at the exhibition games.
But for all the nostalgia and Gruden's talk of bringing the game back to 1998 when Al Davis first hired him as a head coach, Gruden will need to show his style has adapted since he last coached in Tampa Bay in 2008.
He has won over his players with his passion Authentic Eli Manning Jersey , knowledge and attention to detail, but none of that will matter without results on the field.
"What you see is what you get. Rah-rah guy," edge rusher Bruce Irvin said. "I've never seen a person's face stay red for seven periods at practice. The whole practice he is just red. He's a great motivator."
Here are some other things to watch:
MACK ATTACK: There has been one key piece missing for the Raiders this summer: Star pass rusher Khalil Mack has been holding out while seeking a long-term contract. Mack, entering the final year of his rookie contract, won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2016 and leads the NFL in QB pressures with 185 1-2 since entering the league, according to SportRadar. Oakland's defense struggled the past few years even with Mack on the field. Gruden and new coordinator Paul Guenther are hoping to get the game changer in before the season starts to provide a needed anchor to this defense.
DRIVE THE CARR: QB Derek Carr went from MVP candidate during a 12-win 2016 campaign to a struggling young passer a year ago as he dealt with an early-season back injury and suspect play from his receivers. Much has been made of how Carr will mesh with Gruden's hard-driving personality, but the early signs are the two are hitting it off. Whether that leads to improved play remains to be seen. Carr will likely take more snaps under center in Gruden's offense than he has in the past, but also will have more freedom to change plays at the line of scrimmage.
"He has a photographic memory. It comes so easy to him," Gruden said. "He's got the offense mastered more than I do, that's for sure."
INSIDE PUSH: The Raiders struggled to generate consistent pass pressure the past few seasons even with Mack and Irvin on the outside because of a lack of an inside rush. That's why Oakland used two draft picks to upgrade that spot by selecting P.J. Hall in the second round and Maurice Hurst in the fifth. Hurst had been projected as a first-round pick before being sent home from the combine with a heart issue that the Raiders say is not a concern. Hall and Hurst have shined in the preseason and figure to provide a big boost to the defense.
POUND THE ROCK: Gruden has stressed a power-running game since getting hired in January and has the pieces in place to make it work. Oakland has a stout interior of the offensive line with center Rodney Hudson and guards Kelechi Osemele and Gabe Jackson. Marshawn Lynch played well in the second half of last season after coming out of retirement and looks even faster this year. Blocking tight end Lee Smith and fullback Keith Smith provide more support. Gruden hopes Doug Martin can regain the form that helped him run for more than 1,400 yards in 2012 and '15.
COVER IT UP: The Raiders have been rotating through cornerbacks ever since Reggie McKenzie became GM in 2012. They hoped they solidified one of those spots last year when they drafted Gareon Conley in the first round, but he played only two games because of injuries. Conley looks healthy now and could be part of the most talented group of cornerbacks Oakland has had in years with free agents Rashaan Melvin, Daryl Worley Womens Cameron Jordan Jersey , Leon Hall and Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie also in the mix.
Ask Leighton Vander Esch about his improbable path from eight-man high school football to first-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys, and the rookie linebacker is quick with a retort of never being fazed by brighter lights or bigger cities.
Ask the former Boise State walk-on what he does to relax, and Vander Esch stares silently as his smile grows.
"Uh," he said Friday, the first day of rookie minicamp. "I don't even know."
Maybe that helps explain his rise to Mountain West Conference defensive player of the year and his showing at the combine and other workouts that stood out to new Dallas linebackers coach Ben Bloom. The Cowboys drafted Vander Esch 19th overall two weeks ago.
"It's kind of hard for me to relax, honestly," said Vander Esch, who signed an $11.8 million, four-year deal later Friday. "At this point, expectations are so high there's no time to relax. There's no days off. You've just got to keep trucking away."
Linebacker was one of the primary needs for Dallas going into the draft because of Sean Lee's history of injuries, Jaylon Smith's continuing recovery from a serious college knee injury and Anthony Hitchens' departure in free agency.
The Cowboys hadn't drafted a linebacker in the first round since Bobby Carpenter 12 years ago in almost the same spot (18th). Carpenter didn't get a second contract, leaving Dallas after four years in a career that ended after seven seasons. He never had more than 37 tackles.
Defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli is already talking rotation with Lee, Smith and Vander Esch for two spots. If Lee stays healthy Authentic Landon Collins Jersey , that's more likely to mean shared time between Vander Esch and Smith, a second-round pick in 2016.
Smith didn't play as a rookie while recovering from the devastating injury during his final game at Notre Dame and was inconsistent last season, particularly early in the year when he was playing more than expected after Hitchens injured a knee in the preseason.
"We're going to play the best guys," Bloom said. "Everybody linebacker in the room has the ability to play at least two positions. We'll get the best guys on the field and they'll be asked to have multiple positions."
Lee's best fit is weakside linebacker, but he's missed at least one game because of injury in seven of his eight seasons. The only exception was his All-Pro year in 2016.
Vander Esch considers himself a middle linebacker and flatly denied a report from before the draft that a neck injury sustained at Boise had prompted some NFL teams to downgrade him on draft boards. Regardless, the Cowboys weren't one of those teams.
Owner and general manager Jerry Jones likes to compare Vander Esch to Rolando McClain, a first-round flameout in Oakland who had the best year of his career in 2014 in helping the Cowboys to just their second playoff win since their last Super Bowl title following the 1995 season.
Size would be a good place to start with that connection. McClain was 6-foot-4, same as Vander Esch, with an almost identical listed weight. The rookie is listed at 256.
"There's always pressure to perform," Vander Esch said. "Obviously this is the biggest level now so there's even more of it. You've just got to relax yourself and go out and do what you do."
After helping Salmon River High School in Riggins, Idaho, to a pair of state titles, Vander Esch walked on at Boise Marcus Mariota Jersey Big , about 150 miles south of his hometown. After a redshirt year, he progressed fast enough to bypass his senior season and enter the draft.
"You've got to be able to adapt quick no matter what," Vander Esch said. "You've got to able to take on anything and not worry about it, not stress yourself out, not get all flustered with it."
With his focus so much on football, Vander Esch didn't mind getting flustered over a question about what he does for fun.
NOTES: DT Maliek Collins is likely out until training camp after breaking a bone in his left foot Thursday during offseason workouts at the team's practice facility. He is expected to have his second surgery on that foot since January. The first procedure was for a stress reaction that bothered him last season, although he didn't miss any games. ... WR Terrance Williams, who broke a bone in his right foot in January, has been working on the side with trainers. Coach Jason Garrett said his recovery is on schedule, which likely means a return at training camp.
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