Cut-down day always toughest on 'Hard Knocks' ... just ask Brandon Marshall, Keelan Doss

Veteran linebacker Brandon Marshall's release was highlighted in a "Hard Knocks" episode that detailed the Raiders' quest to pare their roster from 90 to 53 players. Kevin French/Icon Sportswire

ALAMEDA, Calif. -- Here's the thing about "Hard Knocks" -- it sucks the viewer in and gets them to root for an assortment of underdogs trying to make the team.

Those storylines rarely have happy endings.

Such was the case in Tuesday night's season finale with the Oakland Raiders, as first-round picks Clelin Ferrell and Johnathan Abram were fishing off a dock in San Francisco Bay in the aftermath of veteran linebacker Brandon Marshall being one of the first cuts.

"If you get cut," a somber Abram wondered aloud, "what you do next?"

"Hope I never have to find out," Ferrell answered.

Three players featured in recent weeks on the show were shown the door: undrafted rookie receiver Keelan Doss, the local kid from Alameda; Canadian tight end Luke Willson, a veteran of six NFL seasons; and linebacker Jason Cabinda, whose mother, Natalie, became a fan favorite in her own right.

Doss was signed to the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad.

"I had a lot of teams call me today," Doss told the cameras after Oakland cut him. "I got an opportunity in Jacksonville, and I'm ready to get down there and, you know, get to work.

"Oakland has been nothing but great to me. I'm just grateful for the opportunity the Raiders gave me out the gate. I have nothing but respect, obviously, for Coach [Jon] Gruden and the rest of the coaching staff as well ... once a Raider, always a Raider, man, and that's true."

Cabinda was caught in a numbers crunch. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther told him that the Raiders were keeping only four linebackers on their 53-man roster. Cabinda was then signed to the Detroit Lions practice squad.

Willson, meanwhile, found himself in unfamiliar territory.

"I kind of feel like a piece of s---, but other than that," Willson said, his voice trailing off. "It's tough. I mean, it sucks. It's part of the business. I've been fortunate to kind of be on the other side for a while. But I still think I've got some ball left in me, so I'll call my agent here and see how it goes. First time going through this, but it is what it is."

Marshall acknowledged that his knee injury -- suffered last year with the Denver Broncos -- put him behind schedule, even if he was working with the first-team defense at weakside linebacker in camp.

"Truth be told, my offseason training, [I] wasn't able to do a lot. I was in a lot of pain in my offseason," Marshall said. "I knew I was going to have to start slow, but it was too slow. I started to come along a little bit as far as movement-wise, but it was too late. So that’s just how it goes."

Other highlights from the finale ...

  • A head-banging Gruden getting pumped up to Metallica's "Wherever I May Roam" on his 4:48 a.m. ride to the Raiders facility.

  • Antonio Brown saying, "I got a big callous, but that's about it," when talking about his feet, which were frostbitten in a cryotherapy mishap in July in France. His children playing with an assortment of helmets as he got a massage was entertaining, as was his saying his new helmet looked like a "mini-fridge."

  • Gruden complaining to side judge Jabir Walker after a penalty was changed from roughing the kicker to running into the kicker in the Raiders' exhibition finale at Seattle. "That sucks, man," Gruden said. "He signaled a first down to me. And then he changed his mind. Which is typical of this whole god damn country. That's a horses--- job."

  • The exact moment backup quarterback Nathan Peterman hurt his right (throwing) elbow ... on a hit and strip-sack by Seattle Seahawks cornerback Akeem King. "A twinge every time I throw," Peterman said on the sideline. "Literally just a twinge every time I throw."

  • Gruden to Doss, after giving him the business for two bad drops: "I just yell at you because I'm your biggest fan, damn it."

  • Raiders owner Mark Davis, showing that his late father's office at the team facility is in the same state it was when Al Davis died in 2011, complete with plays the elder Davis had drawn on greaseboards. "I come in every now and then and take a look," Mark Davis said. "Until you find somebody that's been a scout, a coach, a general manager, a commissioner and an owner, it's pretty hard to find somebody to fill his shoes for this room. So it's stayed this way.

  • "He didn't leave an instruction booklet, but he left a vision. And that vision is that the greatness of the Raiders is in its future."

    Cue scenes of the Raiders' $1.9 billion stadium under construction in Las Vegas, which is scheduled to open in August 2020.

  • And lastly ... Brown with a crazed workout in his swimming pool, from riding a bike to lifting weights. "I'm excited," he said. "Excited, getting ready. You know, make the Raiders great. I'm excited about that and gearing up for it." And if you missed the montage of Brown blowing by defensive backs in practice and hauling in a sick, one-handed grab on a deep ball down the sideline, complete with a toe tap, then you missed why the Raiders are willing to give Brown so much rope and willing to deal with the drama that comes with him. It was impressive, to say the least.

  • The actual Chucky doll, rigged with Gruden's voice, was a nice touch in the closing credits, as was it being still too soon for Gruden to joke about the Tuck Rule, which happened in 2002, with Rich Gannon in a production meeting. Gruden, in 2008 as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach, also predicted to officials that he would one day be on HBO, using "foul words" to work on the refs.