Tonight, the long-awaited season premiere of HBO’s Hard Knocks will take place. Over five episodes, the Oakland Raiders’ training camp will be chronicled and it certainly projects to be an entertaining experience. While head coach Jon Gruden is the main attraction, there are other intriguing storylines as well: from the team’s big characters — hello Antonio Brown and Vontaze Burfict — to the franchise’s planned relocation to Las Vegas in 2020.
There are also plenty of connections to the New England Patriots, as six former members of the organization currently don the silver and black. Let’s meet them!
OT Trent Brown
After only one season as the Patriots’ starting left tackle, the Raiders offered Trent Brown an enormous contract in free agency: the four-year, $66 million deal he signed with the team made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in NFL history. Brown, who started all nineteen games for the world champions last year after they acquired him via draft day trade from the San Francisco 49ers, will line up on the right side of the line in Oakland.
OG Jordan Devey
The former undrafted free agent joined the Patriots as a rookie in September 2013. After one year on their practice squad, he finally got added to the active roster in 2014: Devey appeared in seven games for the eventual Super Bowl winners — starting four — but failed to establish himself as a serious starting option. He was traded to the San Francisco 49ers the following year, and also spent time in Kansas City before coming to Oakland in March.
CB D.J. Killings
Journeyman D.J. Killings, who also is in his first season with the Raiders, actually got his career start with the Patriots in 2017. While he had a solid preseason with the club that signed him as an undrafted rookie, he failed to make the roster: he was waived with an injury designation and later released from injured reserve. Killings went on to move to Philadelphia before short stints in Indianapolis (twice) and Green Bay.
SS Jordan Richards
The Patriots drafted Jordan Richards in the second round in 2015, but he never lived up to the natural expectations that come with being a highly selected player. While he appeared in 46 games for the club — including five playoff contests — he never found his footing, especially as a defender. New England finally moved on in August 2018 when the club traded Richards to the Atlanta Falcons. One year later, he was acquired by Oakland.
Running backs coach Kirby Wilson
Before Bill Belichick took over as Patriots head coach in 2000, Kirby Wilson was responsible for the team’s running backs. From 1997 to 1999, he worked with the position under Pete Carroll and helped tutor both Curtis Martin and Robert Edwards — two players that cracked the 1,000-yard barrier with Wilson as their coach. After his departure from New England, the now-57-year-old moved around the league before ending up in Oakland this year.
Assistant director of player personnel DuJuan Daniels
DuJuan Daniels originally joined the Patriots in 2006 as a scouting assistant, before getting promoted to area scout in 2008. Five years later, the former Boston College wide receiver moved up to the national level — a role in which he earned three Super Bowl rings. Despite his success in New England, however, he decided to leave the organization this offseason to take on a role in the Raiders’ front office.
Hard Knocks premieres tonight at 10:00 p.m. ET on HBO with episodes debuting on subsequent Tuesdays at the same time until the season finale on September 3.