The news in Raider camp these days seems to consist mostly of who is injured now. Since camp began, Raider practice has been a who's who of whoever shows up. The preseason games are shaping up to be a similar story. The roster is so depleted now that a few rookies will be getting their first starts this week against the 49ers.
The receiving corps has three top receivers out. Jacoby Ford went out a couple weeks ago with a broken hand, Louis Murphy went out shortly thereafter with what he is referring to as a strained groin and hamstring, and Chaz Schilens sprained his knee in the first preseason game.
Hue Jackson announced in his press conference that Murphy had surgery today and will likely miss the regular season opener. He was having a great camp prior to his injury and looked like he could have been a starter. If that is to happen, it will be a while.
In the absence of these three receivers, the two starters on Saturday will be Darrius Heyward-Bey, who missed the first couple weeks of camp with an undisclosed injury, and rookie fifth round pick Denarius Moore.
Moore has been the talk of camp with his speedy and precise routes and acrobatic catches. He showed off some of what we have seen in practice in the first preseason game when he caught a short slant and raced for a 26 yard gain. He will get a chance to show off some more of his skills against the 49ers' first team defense this week.
Hue Jackson also announced that starting corner Chris Johnson underwent surgery today. In his place in practice today was rookie Demarcus Van Dyke. Van Dyke has played decent in practice but was outmatched in the first game against the Cardinals. This is to be expected for a rookie and especially against the likes of Cardinal receiver Larry Fitzgerald. That was a lot to ask of the young rookie for even one series.
On Saturday DVD will be asked to carry the load opposite Stanford Routt for what will likely be the entire first half. Talk about a trial by fire. No one is even sure Van Dyke is ready to be the Raiders' third corner or nickel corner, let alone a starter. But without a single veteran acquisition at corner this offseason, this is the predicament the Raiders find themselves in. The other options are much worse as second year corners Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware have looked just plain terrible.
The most recent damage is to starting center Samson Satele. He was taken to the hospital today with an unknown injury. We don't yet know what happened to Satele or how long he will be out. Hue Jackson claims the injury is not too serious and hopefully we will see him back soon. He was replaced in first team snaps by rookie Stefen Wisniewski.
Wiz kid was given a shot early in camp to be the starting center but it became apparent very quickly that he is not ready for the job. He too will get a trial by fire this week. If he can just limit his bad snaps of which he has had quite a few in practice as well as one in the first preseason game, then he will be in better shape.
A couple of other rookies could see their numbers called early as well. Offensive tackle Joseph Barksdale has been making a push for the right tackle job and the way Khalif Barnes looked in the first game, he may just get his chance. David Ausberry was the best looking tight end in camp prior to Kevin Boss' arrival. Boss will get the start no doubt but when the team inevitably lines up in two tight end sets, Ausberry could come into the game with the first team.
This week's game will be the best early indication of what kind of draft class the Raiders had this year. And hopefully the Raiders work out their injury issues so we can move on to seeing how this team is taking shape heading into the regular season.
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Anyone know if we have bought in John Stinchcomb for a look? I think he could nearly be an instant starter for us at RT and we could then say see-ya later to Barnes.
I find it highly interesting that Big Al has allowed Action Jackson to proceed with this high energy and contact heavy training camp - even after many players has gone down with injuries of different severity!
Big Al has always preferred a camp with moderate degree of contact in order to minimize the injury problem, and has even intervened when camp has become too rough in the past! Why this new apporach?
... The simple and most probable explination might be that the shortened offseason has forced the staff to put more pressure on the players faster than usual, which will naturally increase injuries! But this could be done without all the 'full contact on whistle' aspects - so it could also partially be because Action Jackson has been able to make Big Al sway a little from his concepts and traditions! In which case it could be a good sign that the staff might have more to say than in reason years, why we could see some more interesting playbooks this year! Just a thought!
Marcel Reece was previoulsly a very good WR in College, why not give him a chance to step up and support the troops? I would say he is now 100% better than DHB.
The WR corps that had once been deep with talent now has their top three (3) receivers injured. I'm not worried about Ford, but I am worried about the often injured Chaz Schilens and now Louis Murphy. DHB needs to step up. Denarius Moore goes from rookie to starter. I hope Hagan and Miller continues to perform. Bodiford and Jackson will now get their chance to perform.
The bigger issue to me is how these injuries impact the 53 man roster. Last year an injured Schilens made the roster but never played a down until the middle of the season.To me, that wastes a roster spot. Schilens has only caught 40 some passes in 4 years with the team. Not an impact or #1 receiver!! And DHB gets all the wrath of the fans? I say play the guys that get on the field and make plays!
If Chaz or Murph can't play due to injury, can you place them on the PUP list?
I'd like them to bring back Langston Walker. He's not a long term solution, but the guy played OK last season.
The thing is, the teams who don't practice hard, generally, don't win.
A tough team has to be playing tough from week 1 of camp, until their last game of the season. It's an attitude.
Reece is just too big a weapon at Full back. He's very hard to cover from that position.
Not many players in the league can play full back, running back, slot receiver, and tight end to a NFL standard. In fact, it's probably just him!
He could play receiver. But I suspect he'd get figured out pretty quickly by opposing teams after a while, and would be merely average.
As I said, he's much more dangerous out of the backfield. He's like Reggie Bush..........but a full back
@EduardoHolaSaucedoCelaya Would require a new FB, but we currently don't have any finished products on the squad, and after Leach and McClain (whats up with KC landing both McClain and Gaither? Should have been us!!) have gone, there really isn't any good ones left!
But also, the main strength of Reece is that he often faces either a LB (if he is lucky) or a S as the defensive personel has to account for him as a FB/HB which signals a run.. Then when he motions out, the CBs are already pinned in on the WRs, why it is often either the SOLB or the SS who has to match up with him (depending on who has to take the TE) - the LB has a speed nightmare matchup while the S is usually not as good as a CB in pure coverage, which gives Reece the edge as he is big and strong, and will win most battles straight up!
He could find some succes vs CBs as well, but not as consistantly as he has been able to vs the S's and LB's! Imo he is worth more as a X-factor FB/HB, but he could (and probably will) be motioned out more often! A backfield with him and D-Mac or TJ is a mismatch play waiting to happen as both are fast, good recievers who can dominate against a run heavy defensive personel!
Only thing is, the Oline has to hold up, that will be a determinant of this years success!
You've got to remember that Oakland won 8 games last year with virutally no production at any receiver position.
Even Zach Miller only had 600 yards last year. Murphy about the same. DHB about 300 yards. Ford about 400 yards. With hardly any TD receptions either
What I'm saying is, no receiver really did a great deal last year.
But they finished a pretty respectable offensively, and won a lot of games. They probably should have won 10.
How did they do it, with virtually no production at receiver?
Well, they had the best receiving HB, and the best receiving FB (by a long way).
Reece and McFadden combined for something like 900 yards receiving last year. That's sort of "Greatest Show on Turf" levels, for receiving yards from the backfield.
What I'm saying is, Oakland's game plan involves stretching the field with speed, and getting crazy production from the backfield and tight ends.
McFadden, Reece, Miller, combined for 1600 yards receiving last season. They'll probably do the same this year with Boss.
That's where your yards came from. Oakland will need a receiver to step up to take the next step to 10-12 wins and the play offs. But they don't need a 1'000 yard guy just to win games
@tucsonmike " can you place them on the PUP list? " - interesting question!
... But unfortunately "a player is not allowed to be placed on the PUP list if they start training camp on the active roster, even if they take part in only the first few minutes of the first practice."
So it is all or nothing unfortunately! Think we will keep 6 with Hey-Bey, Ford, Moore, Murphy, Chaz (unless he has some serious unforeseen complications), and then either Hagan or Miller, where Hagan seems to have the edge based on size (6'2") and experience (plus TJ, Ford and Moore are set for and capable ST returnmen)..
@ChristopherMooney There is a reason Mario Henderson and Langston Walker are not with the Raiders or any other NFL team. They are terrible. They are out of shape. The Raiders are fine with the linemen they have. Barksdale will be the starting RT by game 8!
I think Stinchcomb is a better tackle than Walker at this point of his career. I really don't know how much Walker has left in his tank and think if he could last a full season he would have been signed already. Stinchcomb was a pro bowler in 2009 and started of 2010 playing extremely well also if was not for him getting injured. If he can pass the physical I would love to see him in a Raiders uniform with Barksdale being groomed behind him. Stinchcomb should be able to be signed to a one year contract.
Your totally right. Put Reece at Wide Receiver, and he'd just start getting assigned to players who are faster, and more athletic than him - ie corner backs.
He has success because he's big enough to play FB, and block to a high standard. But way to fast and athletic for the Linebacker who has to pick him up.
He plays FB, but he's very much an H back if you ask me.
That's how Oakland use him. A hybrid tight end/full back. Sort of like Chris Cooley.
He will line up at full back, but will often motion into the slot, in the sort of position Dallas Clark takes up.
You're right in your analysis.
Playing there, the corners are usually tied up with the speed receivers. There's no way anyone else but the oppositions best corners could cover guys like DHB, Ford, Murphy. I don't care how bad people think DHB is. Line him up with a guy who doesn't have elite speed/skills, and he'll burn him. You don't have to be a great catcher, to bring in the ball with 10 yards of space...................!
It's usually the OLB who picks up Reece. And most of them are way too slow to cover a guy with legit 4.5 speed. They of course get safety help, but that's no good in stopping 10 yard plays, or screens.
You have to remember that because of Oaklands speed, safetys have to play deep. You can't leave guys with 4.2 speed one on one, no matter how lousy they are.
So the combination of Oaklands receiver speed, and their talent in the backfield, means that Oakland have a very dangerous offense.
What I'm saying is, Al Davis knows what he's doing.
Putting elite speed at wide receiver, and pairing it up with top receiving talent at FB, HB and TE, makes Oakland very dangerous offensively.
People laughed at the guy for just drafting speed, but it all works out. Oakland had the best receiving HB, receiving FB, and one of the best receiving tight ends last year. And one of the best screen games in the league. Even without solid QB or line play.
Why? As they've got so much speed at receiver, corners and safetys have no choice but to play deep, leaving space for these guys for 10-20 yard plays
@tucsonmike Perhaps keep 7 (until 5 is ready to go) if both Chaz and Murphy are out for a longer period of time, but Chaz seems to come back, and the we will just keep the six i would think..
By the way, I was reading on another site that Bruce Campbell has looked dominant in his first few practices since coming back from injury.
He's been lining up at right guard, so don't be surprised if he breaks into the starting line up by week 1.
I don't think Walker is a good tackle. But he's a decent veteran starter on the O-line.
He'll start for some team in the NFL in 2011 at right tackle. He's a dominant run blocker
@Harder2000@nilbymouth Gordon has done little to impress in training camp. He looked lost in the AZ game, unable to remember a snap count, and getting penalized. Keep Boss, Myers, and Ausberry. Even use Ausbery at WR, until Murphy is healed. If Gordon shows any promise, put him on the practice squad.
And thanks for the info on PUP.
Then the TE spot becomes interesting! We most likely keep 3 - Boss as a lock, and as Aus is the best recieving threat of the lot, and has been doing good, he seems to take one of the two remaining spots! .. That leaves Myers vs. Gordon for the last seat! My money is on Gordon as he is a better athlete and he is (from what ive seen) just as good or better than Myers when blocking - and bigger and faster as well, which is needed when springing the long runs!
Levi, Bret, could you supply us with some info on the TE battle? Would be greatly appreciated! Great coverage thus far, thanks!