Today was the first day of training camp practices for the Raiders. This is an uncertain time since it is happening simultaneously with the re-signing period which will be followed quickly by free agency. It makes for some interesting uncertainty at several positions. Additionally, there were only 65 players on the field of the 90 player limit they will reach within the next few days.
The first of those uncertain position areas is the offensive line. The Raiders gave little indication who will be starting at each position along the line on Thursday. This is to be expected this early. But at this point, the Raiders don't even have all of their personnel along the line.
This offseason, right tackle Langston Walker was said to be considering retirement. He recently came out and said that rumor was not true and he would like to return to the Raiders this season.
The team is reportedly interested in signing free agent offensive tackle Jared Gaither. But it appears Gaither got the same dollar signs in his eyes that Kwame Harris and Khalif Barnes got when they got the call. The Raiders are not desperate to sign him as they already have Jared Veldheer manning the left tackle position. They are certainly not looking to break the bank in free agency so he has not been signed. My guess is he won't be signed by the Raiders. His back injury is a risk and the Raiders want him to sign a contract that is based on playing time. He wants guarantees he will not get from the Raiders.
Joseph Barksdale signed his rookie contract today. He was the final Raider rookie to sign a contract. He will be vying for that right tackle spot as well.
One of the more head-scratching revelations today was hearing that workout warrior Bruce Campbell had failed his physical. He had said he would be switching back to tackle this season. He was a right guard last season though he didn't see the field in a regular season game and was inactive through the last half of the season. But that transition will have to wait. He was placed on the non-football injury list and was watching practice from the sideline.
Cooper Carlisle showed up for practice to the surprise of those who read the report by NFL Network that he had been cut. At this moment he is indeed still a Raider. I say "at this moment" because he carries a $2.5 million salary cap hit and the team looks to be moving on from him.
Daniel Loper appears to be the new starter at left guard until further notice. He replaced the departed Robert Gallery who has agreed to terms with the Seahawks where Tom Cable now coaches the offensive line.
One position that was not in doubt from word go was center. Stefen Wisniewski is the clear cut starter to begin camp and likely won't relinquish it barring injury. He replaces Samson Satele who we have yet to see where he will be lining up. That is if he returns to the Raiders this season. My hunch tells me right guard. And, of course, backup center.
Another position in flux is receiver. Darrius Heyward-Bey stood on the sideline and is on the PUP list to start camp. On the flip side, Chaz Schilens is fully healthy. We will see how long that lasts.
In the meantime, the Raiders were attempting to replace one of them as starter. The team was said to be actively seeking a trade with the Bengals to acquire Chad Ochocinco. The outspoken receiver chose to sign with the Patriots instead as I am sure he has visions of putting up the kind of numbers Randy Moss did in his first season in New England.
In the offensive backfield, there was no Michael Bush and Marcel Reece as both are restricted free agents. I fully expect both will be on the field by Saturday at the latest and probably Friday.
Bush tweeted Thursday night "TODAY as been a long day. Had 2 workouts today played a round of golf n still no phone call. I feel like I'm back n the 07 draft again. Smh."
For those unfamiliar, Bush was a Heisman hopeful and a solid first round prospect heading into his senior season. He would break his leg early on and never play another down of college football. On draft day he waited until the fourth round to get drafted when the Raiders came calling.
So yeah, he is a bit anxious right now.
On the defense, it was the secondary that was shuffled around.
Chris Johnson was also in that erroneous NFL Network report as having been cut. He too carries a sizable cap hit but it is expected that the Raiders will ask him to restructure his deal. If Nnamdi does indeed move on, CJ could be the new starter. That is of course, if the Raiders don't nab Antonio Cromartie instead. That is another rumor that has been cropping up with regularity the past couple of days.
There are no more speculation and rumors out there right now about Nnamdi Asomugha and where he might land. Several teams are offering, but Nnamdi is not biting... yet. The Texans moved on and signed Jonathan Joseph for about half of what Nnamdi is thought to be seeking. The Bucs were rumored to be in the race simply because they have a lot of cap space but that was never really a good fit and the Bucs claim they were never interested in the first place. Now it is supposedly the Jets who are pushing the hardest along with the 49ers and now suddenly the Cowboys also in the mix (throw my arms up).
I have maintained that I believe Raiders are very much in the mix for Nnamdi. The fact that we have not heard anything about Nnamdi getting even close to a deal is a good sign. Also a good sign is teams like the Texans, who were considered the frontrunner for his services, giving up and moving on. It could mean that Nnamdi has a good offer from the Raiders and is seeing if another team can beat it. Let's not forget the Raiders were prepared to pay him over $16 million this season had his contract not voided itself. With the new lower salary cap, he may not find a better deal than that.
There is also no buzz about Michael Huff which could mean he will be back, though the team has been reportedly pursuing Dashon Goldson of the 49ers. Without Huff (or perhaps Goldson) in practice, the Raiders tried Tyvon Branch at free safety and started Mike Mitchell at strong safety. That arrangement is likely temporary.
The only remaining starter among the group is Stanford Routt who was burnt for a long ball a couple times in practice -- first by Louis Murphy and then Jacoby Ford.
Among the linebackers, Trevor Scott is on the PUP list and was watching from the sideline. He was openly disgruntled about the fact that the lockout was keeping him from rehabbing quickly and properly. Now he is being held out mostly as a precaution.
That last half of "The Lawfirm" of Howard and Morrison (Morrison was traded to the Jaguars last offseason), Thomas Howard, is now set to become a Bengal. The long time weak side linebacker was a free agent and had been buried on the Raiders depth chart.
Now it seems the linebacker corps will have to have a new nickname. With Rolando "Death Ro" McClain and Quentin "Groves Yard" in the mix, the theme works.
The third part of that group is Kamerion Wimbley who was named the franchise player this season. The Raiders are desperately trying to agree to a long term deal with him to take his cap hit down from $11.3 million this season. His deal is the key to re-signing Zach Miller as well as some of the other free agents. Once Wimbley is signed long term, the other free agents will begin to sign and then we can work on a nickname that fits with his defensive backfield mates.
Tommy Kelly and Richard Seymour were in rare form. With Kelly it was quite literal. He was said to have been in great shape and that was indeed the case. As for Seymour, he created the biggest buzz at practice when he hit rookie running back Taiwan Jones with full force. They were not wearing pads, mind you. Seymour probably couldn't feel any difference but Jones sure did.
But before you think Seymour was welcoming the rookie to the NFL, Seymour would later deliver a similar message to veteran running back Michael Bennett.
Also along the defensive line, Jarvis Moss is one of just two player re-signings that the Raiders have made. The other was long snapper Jon Condo. So you could say it has been pretty quiet on the signing front. Come tomorrow, all of that will change.
While things will heat up in training camp, more and more players will be making their way onto the field -- some familiar, perhaps some not familiar. This is only going to get better.
Also see: Raider making money moves mandatory
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okay so if and when Veldheer fails, then what? Henderson? the man isn't even under contract ... so ... we have NO backup whatsoever ... fantastic.
you have a reliable source on the matter of Gaithers purposed contract LD or is this just your opinion on the matter? just curious ...
Nnamdi Asomugha aka: Lebron Part 2
As Raider Nation holds its collective breath over the landing spot for Nnamdi, let’s face reality. Nnamdi is arguably the best cornerback in the NFL, but is he the most productive? Does his play change games or singularly win games? No. I love Nnamdi; but I have a problem with his advisors starting with Charles Woodson. Woodson’s first (4) years with the Raiders he was a Pro Bowl player, then injuries started to occur every year. Their Super Bowl run in 2002, Woodson played with a broken leg and got torched by Gruden and Tampa Bay. The following year Woodson’s attitude changed (Coach Callahan), and he bolted to Green Bay after Al Davis paid him handsomely.
Fast forward to the last (2) years, and Nnamdi has also been heavily compensated (over $30 million). There was a reason why Al Davis put the incentives in Nnamdi’s contract for (2010): To gauge his true worth to the team as far as impact and wins. Over the past few years, Nnamdi has become injury prone, and as good as he is, he doesn’t create turnovers. The point that I am trying to make is this: Al Davis has been very good to Nnamdi to a fault. Cornerbacks salaries have doubled, and in some cases tripled, because of Al’s love and respect for Nnamdi’s talent and character. For Nnamdi to say he “will take less money to play for a contender,” is a cold, backhanded slap to the face of Al Davis and the Raider Organization. Just when the Raiders are on the cusp of turning things around and becoming relevant again, Nnamdi feels as if the Raiders are not contenders for this upcoming season, or the future.
I wish Nnamdi good luck in his future endeavors, but I’ve lost respect for him as a person and player. Say what you want about Al Davis; but no other owner has the best interest for his players (or any other player) than he does. When the other owners were pretending to be Politicians and tried to slip in (Pork Barrel) additives to the CBA behind the players back, Al Davis said “No!” and abstained from voting. Some Raider players said that Zach Miller wants to come back but wants a fair offer. Since when did Al Davis (not) give any of his players a fair offer? He’s been criticized for being overly fair for “over spending” on average talent. If you watched the Raider Press Conference when Hue Jackson was named coach, Al said that he asked Nnamdi last year if he wanted to be a New York Jet (after the Pro bowl), Nnamdi said “no.” Now he’s saying that he’ll take less money, and wants to pursue an acting career in New York? Excuse me, but isn’t Hollywood located in California where there are actually great actors? Nnamdi is already an accomplished actor. He played his role to the hilt, and convinced Raider Nation and the Raider Organization that he was a true Raider. It took Charles Woodson (7) years to win a Super Bowl ring with the Packers, but he was a non-factor (shoulder injury in first half).
The best thing about Nnamdi leaving, is now we get to see who is truly better: Nnamdi or Revis? Quarterbacks will have to target one of them eventually. Rex Ryan has gone on record as saying that “Revis is the best Defensive player in the NFL.” So, if Nnamdi gets his ring or not, it’s Revis’s team, and he just rode his coat-tails. If Nnamdi comes to his senses and return to Oakland, it will show loyalty to an owner and organization that gave him everything he wanted despite his underachievement (statistics).
Letting Robert Gallery go and not replacing him with a stud like Jared Gaither is a huge mistake. The Raiders are making a big gamble on the offensive line counting on all these first and second year players, especially considering one of our future cornerstones, Bruce Campbell, cannot even pass the team's physical...Pay Gaither the money Al, we need his talent, experience, size and brute strength. He will be the perfect fit to our power blocking scheme...
Tom Condon is going to drive Zach Miller's price tag to the point that the Raiders will not be able to compete in the Asomugha sweepstakes. If the reports are true and the Cowboys are in the mix, Jerry Jones will not be outbid. Jones will do everything financially possible to bring Nnamdi in, and Al Davis just cannot compete with that..... The Raiders have to keep their focus and resign Miller. He is one of the pivotal keys to the success of the Raider offense, and Al Davis will have to overpay to get him. There will be no way around it, but Davis has to do it, and sign Miller to a long term contract. Losing Miller would be just as disasterous as losing Asomugha. He is that good, and that important to the Raiders....
@DARKKUSH Most any news at this moment is speculation and hearsay but they do come from viable sources. This is not just my opinion. When it is my hunch or opinion, I usually say so.
@SkipMaster The language in Nnamdi's contract were common "easy-to-reach" details. It was more of an eclipse that he didn't reach any of them. It wasn't Al Davis trying to gauge his worth.
@LDizzle Exactly my point! And he couldn't even do that. Nnamdi is now an Eagle, so it doesn't matter.