Quick Slants: Camp all about the Gruden Stamp

Miss the boisterous Jon Gruden hyperbole earlier this week? “If I can’t get it done, I’m not going to take their money,” the Oakland Raiders head coach told USA Today Sports on Tuesday.

It’s an endearing pronouncement that will surely tickle Raider Nation, if not adorn Gruden with more adoration from the rabid fan base. But while the exaggerated claim may not be taken seriously, what can’t be denied is Gruden’s tunnel-vision desire to make the Raiders a winner before in Oakland before it departs for the desert oasis of Las Vegas.

“The only thing that matters is, ‘Is Khalil Mack going to be here? Is Donald Penn going to be ready to play?’ I’ve got more important things to worry about than eight years of my contract,” Gruden said.

As the Raiders descend upon Napa, training camp is all about the Gruden Stamp. It’s about fully imprinting his intense desire to attain victory. Players and coaches alike got a taste during minicamps last month. But like the wineries that surround Napa, Gruden is going to crush grapes to make the best of wines.

Training camp is the time to separate the haves from the have-nots — the players that not only will be Raiders come Week 1 and those that will not, but also the starters from the backups.

The divide will come. It’s up to the players which side they will be standing on.

Let’s hit the Quick Slants:

  • All quiet on the Khalil Mack front. There’s no substantial news on contract progress or regress. Although NFL insider Adam Schefter says Mack will be a camp no-show. Gruden has said the team is going to do whatever it needs to keep No. 52 in the fold. But, according to Gruden, he’s not hands-on in the process.

“There’s a perception out there that I’m doing everything,” he said. I’m talking to Derek Carr and we’re trying to get ready for practice. I’m trying to pick up (defensive coordinator) Paul Guenther’s crazy blitzes … I understand the bullseye thing, but I can only control what I can,” Gruden said.

  • My Mack concerns will arise if he’s not on the field Week 1 against the Los Angeles Rams. While missing time isn’t ideal, Mack’s duties of get QB, sack QB isn’t overly involved. Now if Mack was the middle linebacker tasked with checks and alignments, then I’d be concerned about him missing time.
  • Was anticipating left tackle Donald Penn and defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes to start camp in the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) List. What I didn’t expect was second-round pick P.J. Hall to end up with that designation.
  • Right tackle is a definite area of concern. While the Raiders have decent options behind Penn, namely first-round pick Kolton Miller, the bookend on the other side isn’t glamorous.
  • The Earl Thomas conjecture was nice to read and the scenario does drum up the most vivid imagination. But the cash-strapped Raiders need to get Mack locked up long-term. Doubt there’s extra monies lying around for E.T.
  • Greg Papa’s dismissal struck a chord with Raider Nation. Me, personally, I’ve gone through the departures of Chick Hearn and Vin Scully (two childhood voices) and Jim Ross. Things change, not necessarily for the best, but we have to adjust.
  • That said, I respect Papa for staying true to himself and lambasting the organization for interviewing Mike Shanahan for a potential gig. Yet, go ahead and publicly criticize your boss and see how long you hang on to that job.
  • Some say Mark Davis’ handling of Papa was childish … oh? Like shipping of your head coach after said coach’s popularity began to eclipse your own as an owner?
  • I’m likely in the minority here, but the camp battle I’ll be eying closely is Eddy Piñeiro vs. Giorgio Tavecchio. Can Papa Giorgio hold off the rookie for the Raiders’ kicking gig? I’d love to see the Florida Gators’ Kick Kliq (Piñeiro and punter Johnny Townsend) remain intact as Raiders.

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