(TNS) — If you expected Raiders coach Jon Gruden to downplay new Oakland linebacker Derrick Johnson's history with the Chiefs, think again.
In a conference call Wednesday with Raiders season-ticket members, Gruden was asked by Travis in Section 201 about the need to improve the middle of the defense.
That’s when Gruden talked about his love of stealing players from the Chiefs, and brought up at least one player whom Kansas City fans still lament getting away.
“Well, we feel like we have solidified the middle of our defense big time,” Gruden said. “We added Derrick Johnson, the all-time leading tackler in Kansas City Chief history. He started every game for them last year, they were the division champions.
“Last time I was here in Oakland, we stole (quarterback) Rich Gannon from Kansas City, we took (receiver) Andre Rison from the Chiefs, we took (defensive back) Albert Lewis from the Chiefs. We love stealing from the Chiefs. So now we’ve got Derrick Johnson, and I’m on my way to the Raiders store to pick up a Derrick Johnson Raiders jersey. I’m going to wear it home tonight."
Reuben in Section 115 asked Gruden who he viewed as the biggest threat in the AFC West.
"I think as a fellow Raider I think you would agree that we don't discriminate or we don't doubt anybody in our division," Gruden said. "We do not like Kansas City at all and they don't like us. And the Chargers have been an archrival for years and years, and you have to respect the Denver Broncos. But these are all fierce rivalries.
"You throw out all the records whenever these teams play. There's a lot of bad blood in the AFC West. But all we can control is ourselves. We're not even going to worry about who are the favorites. We're going to worry about the Oakland Raiders and bringing it every single week."
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was on the call and he was asked by William in Section 129 about how difficult it was to "see his boy in red." That was in reference to the Chiefs drafting offensive lineman Kahlil McKenzie.
“Even though it’s my boy, it’s still Raiders versus Chiefs on that day,” Reggie McKenzie said. “I’m happy and proud of him at this point, but on game day, it is what it is. That rivalry will never end, and he knows that. He’s being indoctrinated in Kansas City as we speak, in that regard. It was great seeing him get drafted, but it’s going to be fun when we play them, that’s for sure.”
Gruden also has found life in the NFL is a bit different the second time around.
Pedro from Section 103 asked if any rookie has stood out and might be ready for the opener.
"Well, Pedro, we've only had two practices," Gruden said. "We've only had two OTA practices. They have all these rules now where you're not allowed to practice against each other. You've got to practice against garbage cans and against air, so I'll have to answer that question in the next week or so..."