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'Hard Knocks' preview: Ready for Raiders, Gruden and sprinklers

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"Hard Knocks" is back, people. Starting Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET, we'll get an in-depth look at life behind the scenes at Oakland Raiders camp, but before that, let's take a moment to go over some people, places and things associated with the venerable HBO docuseries and the team that will serve as its focus this summer. Make sure to check back in with NFL.com every Tuesday night for full episode recaps, beginning tomorrow and culminating with the Sept. 3 finale.

Let's get to it. It's the Glossary of Terms, "Hard Knocks" edition:

Acoustic guitar: There's always one guy who brings one. It worked at house parties in college, and it might just get an undrafted rookie some screen time on premium cable. Start digging through that John Mayer songbook now.

Assistant coaches: If "Hard Knocks" is a movie in which the head coach has top billing, assistant coaches represent the co-stars who get five installments to make an impression and -- potentially -- steal the show. Recent example: big-bellied Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie, who went full Zach Galifianakis in "The Hangover" last summer in Cleveland. There's a flip side to this, too: Former Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley attempted to stage a televised mini-coup against Hue Jackson last summer and now finds himself out of football entirely for the first time in 26 years.

Bowling: Leisure sport that, despite overwhelming empirical data suggesting a steep decline in relevance from its heyday, remains the go-to activity for NFL players on their off day during training camp.

Brown, Antonio: Superstar wide receiver who forced his way out of Pittsburgh and now becomes the center of the Raiders' offense. His eccentric personality and fallouts with personnel at apparently every level of the Steelers organization suggest more red flags than Arrowhead Stadium. Jon Gruden's already disappointed he's missing practices. Uh-oh.

Carr, Derek: Raiders starting quarterback firmly resting uncomfortably on the hot seat as he begins his sixth season with team. Questions persist as to whether Carr, a perceived sensitive fellow, can peacefully co-exist with Gruden, a Hall of Fame needler, in the long term.

Freakout: No "Hard Knocks" season is complete without at least one genuine freakout explosion from the head coach. This can happen during training camp (see: Rex Ryan's "Let's get a goddamn snack" speech in 2010), but it typically occurs during halftime of an utterly meaningless preseason game. Consider it practice for the real thing.

Gruden, Jon: Beginning his second season as head coach after leaving a cushy "Monday Night Football" gig for a second run on the Raiders' sideline. Known for his wild-eyed enthusiasm and disturbing resemblance to an iconic killer children's toy, Gruden's name-brand appeal represents a dream get for "Hard Knocks" producers. Raiders fans secretly terrified that the next five weeks of television will be the best thing that comes from the Gruden Era, Part II.

HBO: Premium cable channel and home of "Hard Knocks" since its inception in 2001, a span that covers Tony Soprano, Nate Fisher, Carrie Bradshaw, Omar Little, Kenny Powers, Johnny Drama, Selina Meyer and the Mother of Dragons, amongst many others.

Incognito, Richie: Troubled veteran offensive lineman with a scandalous past signed by Oakland after a year out of football. The most unpredictable "Hard Knocks" subject since James Harrison scared the hell out of everyone in Season 8.

Jacobs, Josh: Rookie running back and one of Oakland's three first-round draft picks. Being a hot-shot rook under Gruden seems deeply stressful. Recent quote: "You have to see how much the man can eat," Gruden said of Jacobs. "How long can he stay at the table? ... He's got to prove he can get up, time and time again. These are car crashes, some of these hits these guys take. You've got to be a tough guy."

KWAGs: Shorthand for Kids, Wives and Girlfriends. KWAGs are another go-to source when "Hard Knocks" wants to ramp up the stakes and show how a player's quest to land an NFL job can be life-changing, not just for the player but for everyone in his direct orbit. I'm not crying, you're crying.

Las Vegas: Iconic desert city and future home of the Raiders. The setting of at least one road trip segment involving Mark Davis and his white 1997 Dodge Caravan SE with bubble-top Mark III conversion kit. I'm not kidding.

Lawn sprinklers: "Hard Knocks" loves lawn sprinklers. "Hard Knocks" cannot get enough of lawn sprinklers. "Hard Knocks" would wither and die without lawn sprinklers. Consider it an upset if this season features any less than 14 segues that include routine field maintenance.

Mayock, Mike: Long-time NFL Network scouting guru who replaced Reggie McKenzie as general manager in December. "Hard Knocks" may serve as a window into just how much power Mayock wields within an organization that seems -- from the outside, anyway -- like it's Operation Chucky, through and through.

Moms: Every man's No. 1 supporter, no "Hard Knocks" season is complete without at least one mom lending support and encouragement to her son via FaceTime. Moms are the best.

Peterman, Nathan: Veteran quarterback hit by a wave of internet snark last week when Gruden told reporters, "This Nate Peterman is growing on me." Peterman has a 32.5 career passer rating and once threw five interceptions in one half. Sometimes it feels like Chucky is just messing with us.

Pollard, Bernard: Retired NFL safety responsible for the greatest "Hard Knocks" moment of all time. Put Fort Wayne, Indiana, on the map as the dancing capital of the world. Does this have any connection to the upcoming season of "Hard Knocks"? No ... but it allows me to drop in this video right here:

Position battles: "Hard Knocks" loves to find and spotlight unsettled areas of the roster. The Raiders have a few, none more compelling than returning fifth-round draft pick Johnny Townsend trying to fight off undrafted free agent A.J. Cole. Yeah, baby. PUNTER DEATH MATCH.

"Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel:" HBO's fancy-pants sports news program that's been on the air for approximately 400 years. Every episode of "Hard Knocks" ends with a plug for the next episode of "Real Sports," per the ironclad contract demands of a volcanic Gumbel. Probably.

Robidoux, David: Score composer of a host of trenchant NFL Films instrumentals, including the iconic "Hard Knocks Theme." DAH, DAHHH, DAHH, DUHH, DAHHHH, DA, DAA DAA DAA DAA ...

Rookies: The proverbial low men on the totem pole, rookies are constantly under siege in "Hard Knocks," forced to carry equipment, deliver cringeworthy talent-show performances, get demeaning haircuts and so on. The indignity never ends.

Schreiber, Liev: Veteran actor and "Hard Knocks" narrator coming for Morgan Freeman's corner as the premier mic man in Hollywood. Would be working on a Brett Favre-level "Hard Knocks" iron man streak if not for the dastardly Paul Rudd in Season 3.

The Turk: The toughest gig in sports, pro football's Grim Reaper, it is The Turk's job to collect guys and their playbooks after they've been cut from the roster in training camp. Fun fact: The Turk in the inaugural season of "Hard Knocks" was Joe Douglas, then a 24-year-old Ravens assistant and now the general manager of the Jets.

Undrafted free agents: The relatable everymen of professional football, UDFAs provide "Hard Knocks" with its underdogs and the show's emotional center. They are the unknowns you root for to make the team, and the guys you find yourself checking in on with periodical Google searches long after their "Hard Knocks" star turns are over.

Dan Hanzus writes a weekly column for NFL.com and hosts the world-conquering Around The NFL Podcast three times a week. Follow Dan on Twitter if you want.

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