ALAMEDA — Second-year defensive end Fadol Brown and rookie offensive tackle Brandon Parker engaged in the first practice fight of the offseason, with the pair shoving each other’s faces and Brown eventually taking Parker to the ground toward the end of Tuesday’s session.
A scuffle involving many of the Raiders ensued, and Gruden booted Brown from practice early. Veteran left guard Kelechi Osemele helped Parker up from his back, and the head coach was not happy in the aftermath of the dust-up that took place with the team running a two-minute drill.
“We haven’t had that. We really have stressed the etiquette that you have to have to be an Oakland Raider,” Gruden said after practice. “We have to work against each other. We have to practice against each other every day.
“I didn’t like what happened today, particularly in the situation. You hear all this situational football talk around the league. We’re in a two-minute drill to win the game and we got a guy ejected for fighting. That’s a 15-yard penalty and Eddy Piñeiro ended their day with a game-winning field goal. I would hate to fly back from London or wherever the hell we gotta play … losing a game like that. Sorry for getting unglued.”
Brown has impressed the coaching staff this offseason in Khalil Mack’s absence, but he seemed to take a step back Tuesday in Gruden’s eyes after the scuffle. As practice ended, Brown lifted weights with a trainer in the workout center.
Osemele spoke after practice, and mentioned Tuesday’s incident involving Parker when asked what he’s seen from the Raiders’ two rookie offensive tackles.
“Brandon stood up for himself. That was really cool to see,” Osemele said. “You always want to see that. You worry about a guy’s toughness. He’s a tough kid. He’s been playing well. He’s really intelligent. Really smart.”
Might Obi Melifonwu be close to 100%?
Three weeks ago, Gruden said Obi Melifonwu wasn’t close to joining team drills. The outlook on Oakland’s 2017 second-rounder was grim while others in the secondary impressed the head coach in the early going.
Now Melifonwu has re-joined team drills, albeit not fully just yet, and Gruden’s tone on the second-year safety is far more optimistic.
“Obi is doing more. Yeah, he is. He’s out there more,” Gruden said. “He’s getting close to being all the way back. He and (Gareon) Conley both have had some dark, quiet moments with the trainer. I think his confidence is growing. I saw him pull the trigger and really get off the hash and move the other day. You see the 4.4 speed that is talked about. He has a lot of ground to make up. He’s missed a lot of work. It’s competitive back there.”
Melifonwu sits among a crowded safety group that features Karl Joseph, Marcus Gilchrist and Reggie Nelson likely ahead of him on the hypothetical depth chart right now. But at the end of answering a question about Melifonwu, Gruden went out of his way to highlight Erik Harris, the safety and key special-teamer who’s “stunned” Raiders coaches with his play.
“I’m doing my research on this guy. Who is this cat?” Gruden said. “This guy has played really good football for us. I don’t care what round they are coming from. This kid is really rising to the top right now.”
Clearly, Melifonwu has his work cut out for him to crack the rotation in 2018.
Karl Joseph hopes third time is the charm
Since the Raiders took Joseph in the first round of 2016’s draft, the safety hasn’t performed to his liking.
He’s intercepted two passes and deflected 10 over two seasons, feeling a handful of big plays have been left on the table.
“It’s frustrating to me because I have high expectations for myself,” Joseph said. “I know there’s a lot of plays that I missed that I wish I could get back. Going into my third year, I have very high expectations for myself. I definitely have to elevate my game. I have to be the player they drafted me to be. I put that on myself.”
Joseph’s struggles, if you’d call them that, were masked in an abysmal Raiders secondary last year with others playing far worse than him. Now, with seemingly improved pieces around him in Gareon Conley, Rashaan Melvin and Marcus Gilchrist, he might be the one standing out for worse if his game doesn’t improve.
“I have a lot of expectation for myself this year,” Joseph said. “I’m holding myself to that. I just have to keep growing and learning from some of the older guys like Reggie, Leon (Hall) and Marcus. I think we’re in a good spot right now. I’m excited where we’re at right now and where we’re headed. We’re going to have a really good team.”
- Eddie Vanderdoes isn’t practicing for the Raiders and Gruden doesn’t know when the second-year defensive tackle will return to action.
- Gilchrist missed Tuesday’s practice with a “slight calf strain,” according to Gruden.
- Cornerback Shareece Wright also didn’t practice during the first day of Oakland’s mandatory mini-camp.
Source: East Bay Jon Gruden not happy with Raiders’ first practice fight