Since before camp began, there have been several questions surrounding this Raiders team. After camp began, those questions began to mount. The team lost several key players this offseason. They have yet to fill each role completely and also have several other positions that were in need of an upgrade that are unchanged. Here I will give my take on a few of the more burning questions I have been getting lately.
How does Darrius Heyward-Bey look this year?
DHB missed the first week or so of camp with an undisclosed injury. He missed a good portion of camp last year with what Tom Cable referred to as "fatigue." He has only practiced at 100% a couple times thus far. His play in practice has been pretty much the same as it has in years past as well. He has a lot of speed, there has never been any doubt of that. But he continues to catch the ball in his chest as opposed to his hands. Until he can catch the ball in his hands more consistently, there is no reason to think that he will improve his numbers. But make no mistake, he will make this team. Even with his $8.5 million contract.
Who will be playing at nickel corner for the Raiders?
The Raiders have only run with three corners in their second team sessions. This makes it near impossible to gauge who will be running nickel corner. I have been saying that I think Demarcus Van Dyke could be the guy. There are three factors that lead me to say this.
First off he has been playing pretty well in camp thus far. Other corners such as Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware have been unimpressive. Fellow rookie Chimdi Chekwa has been out with an undisclosed injury.
Second off, he played a lot of nickel corner at Miami. This was not because he wasn't good enough to play the boundaries but more because the other corners couldn't play the inside.
Third off, he was the highest drafted corner of the group. DVD was taken in the third round while Chimdi Chekwa is a fourth round pick, Walter McFadden is a fifth round pick, and Jeremy Ware is a seventh round pick. If Al Davis drafts you higher, you have a greater likelihood of playing. He likes to see his product on the field.
That said, Huff has practiced a bit at nickel corner and Tyvon Branch has stepped in and played corner at times too. So, again, I have my theories but not a lot of proof to back it up.
Who starts at receiver and who makes the team?
Barring injury, the starting receivers should be Chaz Schilens, Louis Murphy, and Jacoby Ford. Rounding out the top five are Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore. If they keep six receivers, it will be between newly signed Chad Jackson and Derek Hagan for the final spot. Nick Miller has had a terrible camp and I would be surprised if he beats out Hagan or Jackson for that sixth spot.
Who has stood out on the defense?
Matt Shaughnessy. He looks tremendous. He dominates the Raider tackles regardless of which side he lines up. I expect big things from him this season. He didn't start until midseason last year and despite his limited duty early on, he still finished with seven sacks. He was a headache for opposing quarterbacks and will build on that this season. I have no doubt about that.
Who looks like the Raiders' rookie of the year?
Denarius Moore. He has been the talk of camp. He makes eye-popping catches every practice. If he can get the playing time, he could be this year's Jacoby Ford or Louis Murphy. Another mid-round stud receiver for the Raiders.
Which of the UDFA's has stood out?
Sterling Moore has made some nice plays from the corner position. The Oakland product has certainly outshined the likes of Jeremy Ware. I expect when the final roster comes out, Moore will be on it and Ware will not.
Who has surprised?
Chris Johnson is the best corner on the field. He will be taking over the spot vacated by Nnamdi Asomugha. That is a tall order but CJ has taken the challenge. He took the same challenge when he had his first start two seasons ago, replacing DeAngelo Hall. We all discovered the Raiders' best kept secret back then and he seems determined to remind us.
Any idea if the Raiders will bring in Kirk Morrison, Lofa Tatupu, or Kelvin Hayden?
The Raiders would probably welcome Morrison back with open arms, but he is used to being a starting middle linebacker and he won't find that in Oakland. He will hold out to see if an opportunity to start in the middle becomes available with another team before he considers re-joining the Raiders as either an outside linebacker or backup middle linebacker.
The Raiders worked out Tatupu and didn't like what they saw for one reason or another. Tatupu is another middle linebacker by trade. He too would have to agree to taking a backseat to Rolando McClain if he joined the Raiders. He doesn't quite have the speed the Raiders look for in a weakside linebacker and that could very well be the reason he wasn't signed.
Hayden is a bit of a mystery. I have only heard rumors of the Raiders having marginal interest. With their uncertain corner rotation, I would think they might consider bringing him into the fold. There is not much more I can say about him until we hear more.
How do the tackle positions look?
Both Jared Velheer at left tackle and Khalif Barnes at right tackle have had their struggles keeping the likes of Matt Shaughnessy and Kamerion Wimbley out of the backfield. Veldheer holds his own more often while Barnes looks like a turnstile. Barnes is not the answer at right tackle and the team should seriously consider bringing Langston Walker back. They brought in free agent tackle Jared Gaither and found that he was not recovered from the back injury that had him out all of last season. If he had joined the team, it would have moved Veldheer to right tackle. This week the team even attempted to bring back Mario Henderson. They agreed to the terms of the deal but Henderson was out of shape and overweight causing him to fail his physical. Now the team will just have to hope rookie Joseph Barksdale makes a quick transition to the pros and can take over at right tackle.
How serious is Darren McFadden's injury?
Not as serious as it sounds. When people say "fractured orbital bone" it sounds bad. You don't normally see football players with such an injury. It is usually reserved for fighters who get punched in the eye. Or tight ends who cross Bill Romanowski. Such an injury can be extremely serious and in most cases the prognosis is a long recovery. But in this case it is rather minor. You can't tell he is even injured by looking at him and if this were the regular season, he would probably only miss one or two games. Hue Jackson will likely keep him out the preseason but only because he can. McFadden will be more than ready by the opening game in Denver.
How many of the injuries are serious?
There have only been a couple of serious injuries in camp this year so far: Jacoby Ford's broken hand and undrafted free agent receiver Derrick Jones' torn Achilles tendon. Derrick Jones was placed on the reserve/injured list and will be out at least this season. The Ford broken hand is expected to heal by the time the Raiders open the regular season. All other players not practicing are sitting out from minor "nicks" and should return at some point in the preseason.
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anybody got a link to the game tonight? is justintv still up and running? heard it wasn't. i checked on their and seen every game but the raiders
The Raiders have to do something with DHB's contract. I don't know how you feel about this, Levi, but I think the Raiders should absolutely restructure his contract, and if he refuses, cut him. Yes, DHB works hard, but he still cannot make plays other than the short slant routes into his chest. He is obviously not improving, which tells us that it is time to move on. We did it with JaMarcus and now it's time to do it with DHB. With an obvious talent like Denarius Moore, the Raiders have to give him serious playing time as he is a player that is demonstrating qualities of an elite player, something which DHB NEVER has...
As far as McFadden's injury, it is serious. Period. A fractured eye socket is a very dangerous injury, and it would take one heavy hit to the helmet and McFadden could have major health implications, including death. This injury has to heal 100%, and I hope that McFadden rests for the entire pre-season to let the injury fully heal...This is not an injury to mess around with....
DHB, ugh, I hope this Moore kid can replace DHB, all speed no talent, I mean the kid catches with his chest still. Put this chump on Returns, let him use his speed to run away. Schilens I hope doesnt get hurt 2nite, like anyhting else, we need this guy to be healthy, I know he got game, but we never see it cause of Injury...
DHB and Jacoby Ford are number 1 and 2 on the provisional Raiders depth chart at receiver
It will change slightly, but not that much.
Meaning your claims that DHB will be FOURTH receiver starting the season are not very likely.
As I said, Raiders depth chart coming out of camp, DHB is number 2 on it.
Huff was informed that he will be the Raiders nickle CB moving out of the FS spot, with Branch moving into FS spot and Mitchell coming into Branhes SS spot off the bench. You ain't going to see DVD or any other young CB untill their ready. You would know this if you pay attenion to what's going on inside Raiders camp.
I'm worried about are corners and the right tackle position maybe Bruce Camble can play the right tackle I dont like Routt at corner he has alot of speed but no ball skills I would not be surprised if we see more of dvd or pick up a corner as preseason unfolds.If the O Line holds up we should have a really explosive offense Cant wait for the game tonight go RAIDERS Build that BULLY
Superb Levi.. pretty much answered a lot of my Q's. For me the standout problem is the RT position. This could be a bit of an issue. Campbell on the other hand is a mobile quarterback and he'll be able to see plays developing from the weak right side. The Boss signing could prove invaluable to Jason and giving him extra protection.
Anyone thinking that our #1 draft pick next year needs to be a RT?
Wouldn't you have said the Chekwa was a serious injury? More so than Fords broken hand, which should be ready for the start of season. For a rookie trying to earn his spots going out in the first practice and missing the whole of preseason isn't good.
I am extremely excited this year about Shaughnessy, Seymour, Kelly, Houston. This could be? the best front 4 combination in NFL? and combine that with Wimbley and McClain.... This is seriously formidable! Just hope they can stop giving up millions of yards against the run!!!
I would love to see DHB succeed. I think he will be given his last chance this year. It is a shame as he is such a hard worker and is genuienly tring to improve! I wonder what his coverage skills could be like? lol Also is DHB's salary $8.5 mil or his cap number $8.5 mil?
I would love to see Capt. Kirk back to for a reasonable cap amount. He could be a way better special teamer than Sam Williams not to mention be a possible starter at weakside LB and a great backup at MLB.
I really hope Veldheer is looking average only because Wimbley and Shaughnessay are going to be All Pros. We should have never bought Barnes back. There must be someone better still available?!?! I am sure guys like Mark Tauscher, Max Starks, Nick Kaczur are still aviable and have got to be a better option, at least even just for this year. BTW has anyone else noticed that Jared Gaither is listed as being with Oakland on their FA tracker list...
Also do you see Moore seeing much game time? Dime CB maybe?
i did it for russell(yikes), so im gonna give bey one more year. whats funny if you look at the other receivers in that draft (more notably maclin and crabtree), one is hurt(crabtree) and the other supposedly has a career ending undisclosed injury! all we(jackson) needs to do with bey is make him run everytime at practice he catches the ball with his body instead of looking it in with his hands. if all else fails, he can maybe race hussain bolt on pay per view in the 50 yard dash!
@massillonraider Firstrowsports has the Raiders link. I'm watching the SD VS Seattle game right now and it streams pretty good.
@ChristopherMooney Chris, that unofficial depth chart is almost meaningless. It is based very much on last year's roster with some rookies thrown in. I know this. Every other media person in the press room knows this. You should be aware of this too. I am not here to regurgitate what the Raiders tell me. If you want that, go to Raiders.com
Agreed. Raiders depth chart at corner is Routt, Johnson, Huff, DVD.
Think a lot of this article is "what should happen". Not "what will happen"
Oakland love Veldheer at RT. He's only playing LT as he's the best of a bad bunch there. They may well draft a LT next year.
As for Shaughnessy, Kelly, Houston, Seymour, they are getting nice numbers of sacks, but let's remember that they're also one of the worst run stopping defensive lines in the entire league.
They're the NFL equivilant of a CB who gets a pick, but then gets burnt for a TD his very next play.............
Seymour, Kelly, Shaugnessy, Houston won't be earning their money, until they're stopping teams rushing 150 yards a game on them.
As I said, they've got some decent stats, but a lot of them had overrated seasons last year.
If you're anchoring the worst rush defense in the league, you're hardly doing an amazing job. Seymour included.
DHB is vying for number 1 spot on the Oakland depth chart. All this talk that he will be 4th or 5th receiver is false.
Oakland's provisional depth chart, coming out of camp, he was a starting receiver with Ford. He was number 1 on the chart, I believe.
This may not be the case by week 5, but the depth chart won't change that much going into week 1.
DHB will be one of the two starting receivers, and will get a chance to show what he can do.
@nilbymouth Yep, I have seen some office bod in the NFL.com admin team has got trigger happy added him then forgotten to take him off. Or maybe they just like to forget about the Raiders. With everything happening in Philly this last 2 weeks NFL.com have got a new baby. The Jets have grown up and moved on. Eagles are the hottest thing to get people on the website and quiet preseason teams like the Raiders just aren't important.
@nilbymouth I think, especially against the pass happy broncos & chargers then employing a dimeback would be essential. He is certainly quick enough but whether or not he is tall enough? I would say we should the risk of putting him as the 6CB in the depth chart is hardly anything but the rewards could be great!
@Philip Fitch went to the link, their showing pats and ravens though
We were the fourth worst.. Cardinals, Broncos and Bills all let in more yards a game than us. We were however the second best passing defense. More importantly we were 21st when it came to touchdowns allowed
@ukraider78 I spoke to soon. Looks like the Chiefs have signed him now...
@Philip Fitch got it now, thanks my man. GO RAIDERS!!!