Despite the fact that the Raiders are far from having a full house at camp, things seem to be shaping up. The primary areas in question have been the offensive line and the secondary. And after three practices, we are getting a much better idea of who the coaches like in those areas.
On the offensive line, the first team looks like this: LT Jared Veldheer, LG Daniel Loper, C Stefen Wisniewski, RG Cooper Carlisle, RT Joseph Barksdale.
Veldheer and Carlisle are returning starters and will remain as such until further notice.
Many, including me, thought the team might be moving on from Carlisle at right guard, but early indications suggest quite the opposite. Until another lineman can step up and take the job, he will remain as such. The main thing now is getting his cap number down from $2.5 million.
Veldheer was the starter by midseason last year and looks to be holding it down now as well. The team looked into the possibility of signing free agent Jared Gaither but it fell through because he is not completely healthy and failed his physical. So it is still Veldheer's job.
Loper was the expected starter to replace the departed Robert Gallery at left guard. He filled in admirably for Gallery last season and received a decent extension because of it.
Stefen Wisniewski was also pegged as the starter long ago. The moment he was drafted, Hue Jackson made no bones about Wiz kid being "the next great Raider center."
Joseph Barksdale is playing right tackle mainly by default. That is not a knock on Barksdale, it is simply the truth because the only other right tackles in practice are undrafted free agents. Khalif Barnes re-signed but he can't practice until August 4 like the rest of the newly re-signed players.
The undrafted free agent rookies have been getting a lot of work while there are so few offensive linemen. Aaron Pelc had a frustrating day. He was taken down by Kamerion Wimbley on one play and then a bit later got in a scuffle with Tommy Kelly.
Pelc wasn't alone in his struggles though. Veldheer was beaten by Matt Shaughnessy several times and on one play Wisniewski was twice pushed well into the Raider backfield by John Henderson. Those kinds of plays are learning opportunities, though, so they can end up being a good thing.
The other area that seems to be shaping up is the secondary.
With Nnamdi's departure, we already know that Chris Johnson will be the starter opposite Stanford Routt. What we didn't know is that he would step up so quickly. For the third straight day, he was the best corner on the field. If he keeps this up, Raider fans will forget about Nnamdi pretty quickly.
The safety position continues to be manned by Mike Mitchell at strong safety and Tyvon Branch at free safety, though Stevie Brown continues to make plays and eventually it could be difficult to keep him out of the lineup.
Another thing to consider is that almost no interest has been shown in Michael Huff as a free agent. This could signal his return to the Raiders as his best option. He could come back as a starter or be relegated to backup depending on the play of Branch and Brown. It looks like despite the nice contract that Hiram Eugene received, he is no more likely to start than he was before signing.
Now that the players are in pads, we will get a better indication of who among the Raiders' young corners will shake out as the nickel. It is nearly impossible to say who will win the job this early on. The contenders are last year's rookies Jeremy Ware and Walter McFadden and new rookies Demarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa.
Chekwa in particular went off the field in practice today with what looked like a serious injury to his shoulder. Hue Jackson said it wasn't serious but we will take a wait and see approach and let you know how he is looking tomorrow or even if he is practicing. It would be a shame if he has any serious damage this early on.
Others who looked good today were WR Chaz Schilens, RB Darren McFadden and LB Rolando McClain. Schilens played the way we know he is capable but rarely see because he is so often injured. McClain is becoming a more vocal leader and is much more comfortable calling plays for the defense. Darren McFadden always looks good in practice. Hue Jackson was very happy with what he saw from him and was very vocal about it.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter @LeviDamien as I will be tweeting from Raider training camp in Napa. You can also befriend me on Facebook.
with the javon walker debacle behind us, i dont know if signing a hurt player to big money is smart. now maybe cheaply with incentives i would. a year off and not healthy, not sounding good. doubt if he can be ready by start of the season.
Too bad about Gaither. I still think his upside is worth the investment, and if he is healed up by the start of the season, the team that does sign him will be very lucky. When healthy, this guy is a true force on the field, and I still maintain that he would be the perfect fit for our Oline....Glad to hear Chris Johnson is playing so well. He certainly has some big shoes to fill.......
Levi - How healthy was Chaz looking? If he can stay healthy throughout the season it will be like having a new player!
I wouldnt be so worried about these Rookie mistakes on the OL if there was a full preseason but with preseaon games kicking in so soon they are going to have no time to settle! Talk about deep end!
With regards to Huff. I would much rather try and get Goldson from 49ners than resign Huff. Or even sign both. Keep Huff waiting until the last moment and sign him on a reduced contract. Looks like people have seen through his 'contract year' stats! I hate the fact he saved his best for his contract year!
I agree the O-line is suspect right now. The thought of Carlisle lining up next to 'False start' Barnes just feels me with dread. Barksdale needs to progress or we need A N Other. Veldheer could do with all the practice he can get against the power and pace of Shaughnessy. He's going to need it when he faces the likes of Hali.
OK. Ill go ahead and say it. That OL is a disaster. Trent Edwards might be the most important signing so far.
@Spartacus he'll be had for cheap when he comes crawling back when healthy again. the fact that he's had a year off and he's still not healthy is a terrible sign for him in being able to play this year. until then, we're screwed with Veldheer at LT ... Sho-nasty got by him 3 times? that isn't a learning curve for Jared here fellas. he should be better than that. WTH do you think Peppers and Mathews will do to him? Gaither was very much needed, and i was horrified when he wasn't healthy. he was our only shot at consistency at LT.
PS there was NO WAY he would play RT. he's the FAR SUPERIOR PASS BLOCKER next to Veldheer(and most throughout the NFL for that matter) ... he was going to get paid as such. doesn't matter now though obviously. i should stop talking about it.
@Spartacus Things look like they are heating up for the one man baby machine that is Antonio Cromartie. He isnt exactly going to be cheap and with Chris Johnson playing well, is this money worth spending? I would much rather money spent on the OL and on Miller. However, i'm thinking we are going to sign Wimbley onto a long term deal and franchise Miller!
@massillonraider i second that motion
@massillonraider And Boller taking over in the 4th when Edwards gets decked!
@ukraider78 haha good comparison on Chaz uk. he was a bonus at best this whole time ... for once he's looking good. it's because of the less OTAs offseason that he's stayed healthy. with the exception of the Niners joint practice a couple of years ago, all of his injuries came in non contact drills. it seems as though he could finally turn into our true #1. Personally, i would love to see Malcom Floyd brought in still. he didn't sign anywhere yet right? with him and Chaz and Ford streaking along the sideline or in the slot, look out! even with a shotty OL, they can shine. we'll just have to keep Zach back to block like always does anyway.
@DevonRaiderUK I'm not worried about Hali. Veldheer had him dead to rights in the second meeting. he'll probably do the same this year. im worried about Mathews, DUMERVIL, Peppers, CAMERON WAKE, and anybody shooting his way from the NYJ exotic defense. it may get ugly.
I'm sure Henderson will push back A LOT of Centers this upcoming year if he stays healthy. i won't put a whole lot of stock into Wis getting pushed back other than he's a rookie. his uncle will teach him a thing or two. let us hope that is. if Satele also has to start, god help us. Wilfork will be Wis II's ultimate test come week 4. well, he will have Jenkins the week before as well.. haha! kid's got his hands full early on, that's for sure. i'll reserve judgement on him since he's a green horn.
@nilbymouth I wouldn't mind that if CJ fails and we can't real in Cromartie. i don't want the guy on this team anyway.. and i think the Jets will resign him. they're on their hands and knees right about now. he'll give in for more doe. Huff to CB means MORE BIG TIME PLAYS MADE BY STEVIE BROWN!!! he seems to be continuing the trend this year in camp. doing things around the ball at all times. when you're that instinctive as an essential rookie, and you can stay healthy, good things will happen. the Raiders better not be idiots and release him again. I think they learned their lesson. it was probably a Cable move anyway when they let him walk and then resigned him, twice in fact. Can't wait to see him steal the SS position away from MM33 .. who belongs on ST only. haha!
@oaklandraider that's what im sayin.. w/o Gaither, this OL will have a lot of problems. when they aren't playing TORRO with their defender, they'll be committing holds and jumping offsides constantly. it won't be pretty... we thought it was bad last year and years past being the more penalized team? wait until you see a bunch of washed up players and rookies stepping in to start.
@oaklandraider And you are right about Trent. With this very weak OL I am very worried for Campbells safety! If he gets knocked out early doors our season is going to be over! OK he is no VY but we don't have so much money to play with. So he is the best we could get! Hopefully Boller kicks in and proves to be a viable backup as well.
@oaklandraider Great avatar!
@ukraider78 Yea i feel the same way uk. exactly the same way. Waters, Davis, Evans, even Matt Light are still out there. we need a veteran to play along side THESE KIDS ... that's exactly what they are. and their competition will be fierce for their first and seconds seasons in the NFL. our current OL is shaky AT BEST. it's a false start, holding penalty machine that will kill many drives and get our QB murdered. we will be seeing Edwards before you know it.
thanks bro ! Silver and Black since the Channel 4 days lol ... waaaaaay back ! @ukraider78