'Hard Knocks' 2019: Five Things to Watch Out for in the HBO Series Featuring the Oakland Raiders

Much as is the case for Week 1 of the NFL campaign, the premiere of a new series of Hard Knocks always carries with it a mixture of intrigue and expectations each year.

This season is no different; in fact the curiosity factor has been dialed up by a couple of notches since HBO announced in June that the Oakland Raiders will feature on the annual training camp reality series.

The Raiders look tailor-made for a TV series in more ways than one this season. Head coach Jon Gruden begins the second of his 10-year contract, as the franchise prepares to bid goodbye to Oakland ahead of its relocation to Las Vegas next season.

Add to that the fact that in Antonio Brown and Richie Incognito they have signed two of the most controversial players in the league and there are all the ingredients for a memorable season of Hard Knocks.

The latest installment of HBO's popular series premieres at 10 p.m. ET on Tuesday night, and here's five story lines to follow.

Oakland Raiders, Jon Gruden
Derek Carr #4 of the Oakland Raiders speaks with head coach Jon Gruden on the sidelines during their NFL game against the Denver Broncos at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on December 24, 2018 in Oakland, California. Robert Reiners/Getty

Antonio Brown's new chapter

Brown didn't just burn bridges upon leaving Pittsburgh, he tore them down with a wrecking ball. On the face of it, he has got the move he wanted and joined a team that has considerable upside potential.

A behind-the-scenes series like Hard Knocks should be perfect for the 31-year-old, who is definitely not afraid to make his feelings well known and arrived into training camp by riding a hot air balloon.

Depending on your views on Brown, his off-field antics verge from the bizarre to the outright unprofessional, but the Raiders signed him because he remains one of the greatest receivers in the league.

Since he entered the league in 2010, Brown has recorded six consecutive seasons with at least 100 catches and has broken the 1,000 receiving yards threshold in all but two seasons. However, he has only practiced once so far and has been troubled by a foot ailment, and his attitude will be one of the key features of Hard Knocks.

Richie Incognito's return

Speaking of controversial players, the Raiders have also added Richie Incognito to their roster.

Incognito's recent record on and off the field is more miss than hit and it includes the 36-year-old being found guilty of using racist and homophobic language towards a teammate and a trainer while with the Miami Dolphins.

Incognito retired from football after the 2017 season, before reversing the decision and stating he would join the Buffalo Bills' offseason workouts only to never show up.

In May last year, an altercation in a Florida gym led him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation and three months later he was suspended for threatening the staff of a funeral home. It will be intriguing to see him on Hard Knocks.

Jon Gruden's second year

Jon Gruden signed a 10-year deal worth $100 million with the Raiders at the beginning of last season, as he swapped the commentary booth for the sideline. The 55-year-old immediately appeared desperate to tear down the Raiders' roster, shipping star pass rusher Khalil Mack to Chicago just before the opening day of the season, before sending wide receiver Amari Cooper to Dallas a few weeks later.

Mack was instrumental to the Bears reaching the playoffs, while Cooper had a breakout season with the Cowboys, as they too made it to the playoffs.

The Raiders, meanwhile, went 4-12 and Gruden desperately needs the momentum to change this season. The arrivals of Antonio Brown, Vontaze Burfict and three first-round picks have restored some much-needed optimism in Oakland but only time will tell whether the Raiders can live up to expectations.

A little taste of what's coming on August 6. #HardKnocks

(via @NFLFilms, @HBO) pic.twitter.com/TNGsaGYxMn

— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) July 26, 2019

Vontaze Burfict vs Antonio Brown

On the subject of Burfict, his arrival throws up an intriguing dynamic in the Raiders camp, as the linebacker and Brown have plenty of history.

During the 2015 playoffs, Burfict was suspended for three games after leaving Brown concussed following a huge hit. Two years later, however, the former Cincinnati Bengals man claimed Brown had in fact faked concussion in order to get him punished.

When the Steelers met the Bengals last season, Burfict threw his elbow into Brown's helmet, while the receiver was being tackled and received a $112,000 fine for unnecessary roughness.

Expect the cameras to follow the duo extensively throughout the series.

Will Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock work together?

Hard Knocks is granted enormous behind-the-scene access, which should give viewers a good idea of the dynamic between Jon Gruden and Raiders general manager Mike Mayock.

Gruden swapped ESPN's Monday Night Football booth for the sideline last year and Mayock followed a similar path in December, swapping NFL Network for the Raiders' front office.

Mayock spent almost two decades as NFL Network's lead draft analyst and there seemed to be no issues between him and Gruden in their first draft together, but Hard Knocks will shed more light on their relationship.

 Jon Gruden, Oakland Raiders
Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock, head coach and general manager of the Oakland Raiders, talk before the start of the 2019 Reese's Senior Bowl at Ladd-Peebles Stadium on January 26, 2019 in Mobile, Alabama. The North defeated the South 34 to 24. Don Juan Moore/Getty