It wasn’t difficult to surmise what that scowl on Jon Gruden’s face meant when he was asked about the readiness of Obi Melifonwu.
“It doesn’t look close at all,” the Oakland Raiders head coach said about the second-year safety, “I’ll leave it at that. He doesn’t look close to me at all.”
Gruden delivered the deliberate wake-up call to the 2017 second-round pick Tuesday after the team’s first OTA. The head honcho’s body language was as fierce as the words coming out of his mouth. It was full-on Chucky as Gruden sported an extremely annoyed look that would make NBA star Russell Westbrook blush.
When broached about specifics about Melifonwu, Gruden’s scythe came swinging again — full speed.
“Oh, he doesn’t look ready to roll yet,” Gruden said. “So, I don’t let anybody practice without being able to go physically. He doesn’t look like he’s 100 percent.”
And then the uppercut after the two vicious hooks:
“I haven’t seen much of Obi except in the training room,” Gruden ended.
There’s no ambiguity behind those words. Gruden’s message to Melifonwu is akin to Mike D’Antoni calling his Houston Rockets soft. It’s the get your stuff together message. (D’Antoni’s Rockets rose to the occasion and dropped the Warriors in Oakland in Game 4, by the way).
There’s plenty of time for Melifonwu to get himself right and back into the mix. If he doesn’t, however, he’ll likely have the trainer’s medicine cabinet down pat instead of the playbook.
Let’s hit the Quick Slants with the speed Gruden has when making a point:
- Melifonwu wasn’t the only player not in full health. Gruden harped on it even with wide receiver Amari Cooper who didn’t finish the session due to a hamstring ailment.
- Unlike his predecessor, Gruden said exactly why Cooper didn’t finish. A Raider head coach providing no BS assessments … how refreshing.
- Veteran Reggie Nelson wasn’t only active, he was one of the more audible players on the field. He knows defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s system.
- Marcus Gilchrist and Karl Joseph ran as the first-team safety tandem. Still, don’t read anything into that. Depth charts are far from set.
- The Eagles released linebacker Mychal Kendrick on Tuesday and the Raiders have legit depth issues at the position. Would be a wise investment to bring the former Cal Bear back to the East Bay.
- A conditional seventh-round pick for Christian Hackenberg? Why the uproar from some in Raider Nation? He’s a 23-year-old developmental quarterback who the Jets regret taking. Low gamble, low risk.
Quote of Note:
“You can ask anybody in the locker room, they’ll tell you I talk smack. It’s what I do. There’s no hard feelings, but you’re going to hear me. The transition from linebacker to end has been very smooth. Seemed like defensive end is more natural to me. A lot of going forward and reacting instead of me dropping in coverage and knowing receiver routes. I think defensive end is a more natural fit. It gets me going and reacting more instead of thinking and covering people.”
— Bruce Irvin on the move from linebacker to defensive end