Oakland Raiders: 8 Strongest Offensive Weapons in 2012
The Oakland Raiders' offense is looking especially strong for 2012. In 2011, with so many of the players going down with injuries, the Silver and Black's new regime headed up by Reggie McKenzie and head coach Dennis Allen, hope to make improvements in injury prevention and decrease the chances of losing so many players in 2012.
Strength coaches may be highly underrated in the NFL. They play a key role in keeping the players healthy. Injury prevention and quick recovery times are essential in order for the team to get back to a winning record.
Al Miller, member of the inaugural USA Strength and Conditioning Hall of Fame class joined the Raiders' coaching staff this year, and with his two decades of NFL coaching experience, I believe we'll see a significant decrease in the number of injuries this coming season.
That being said, if the majority of the Raiders' offensive weapons remain healthy this year, their opponents will have a very tough battle on their hands.
Here's a look at eight of the best players on the Oakland Raiders offense.
Running back Mike Goodson arrived to Oakland via a trade with the Carolina Panthers in March. With the Raiders solid backup running back Michael Bush leaving for Chicago, the team was left with a rather glaring need to fill.
Goodson sounded rather excited to be a part of the legendary Silver and Black, tweeting shortly after the trade, " Newest Oakland Raider !!!!! Headin to Cali!"
His fans in North Carolina couldn't say enough about how much they liked Goodson, and many felt that he has the potential to be a star in Oakland. Although the 24-year-old missed much of the 2011 season, he was a solid player in 2010, ranking second in receptions and carried the ball 103 times for 452 yards.
Between Goodson and running back Taiwan Jones, the pair should provide some relief for our star running back Darren McFadden, allowing him to get needed rest, and hopefully, prevent further injury for him in 2012.
When the Raiders cut Kevin Boss from the roster following the end of the 2011 season, it opened up a huge opportunity for tight end David Ausberry. He saw little time on the field last year, but 2012 may be his time to shine.
Last week during OTAs, Coach Allen said (via Raiders.com) he that he didn't want to put a timetable on Ausberry as to when he'd develop into a full-time player, but he remarked that he definitely has the ability to do that.
Ausberry is another USC alumni and was connecting very well with quarterback Matt Leinart. He was said to be Leinart's favorite target and hauled in every kind of catch thrown his way.
He's working incredibly hard to live up to his potential, and he's even bulked up quite a bit since last season. Levi Damien of SilverandBlackPride.com noted that he seems to be coming into his own as a tight end and wrote:
Despite his size, he is still a mismatch for defenders with his wide receiver hands and speed. His added weight has not diminished his ability to get open on linebackers so thus far it has not affected his ability to gain separation on defender.
Ausberry seems very confident and remarked (via Raiders.com), "Everything feels great with the new offense."
Carson Palmer was also said to have a glowing endorsement of his skills and with such great chemistry with both quarterbacks, Ausberry could have quite a positive impact on this coming season.
Louis Murphy was sidelined with a number of injuries during quite a bit of 2011, and by the end of the season, he had just 15 catches without any scores, but he's a solid receiver with a lot of talent. Barring further injury, I believe he'll have a more positive impact this year.
In 2010, he was credited with 41 catches for 609 yards and two touchdowns.
If Murphy doesn't get back to where he was a couple of seasons ago, there are a few standout rookies who will be ready and willing to take his place.
Wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey was arguably the most improved player in 2011. While so many receivers were out due to injuries, it was Heyward-Bey who stepped up to lead the Raiders in receiving and become their most consistent performer in that respect.
Jacoby Ford was the exceptional rookie receiver in 2010, unfortunately, 2011 saw him become another foot injury victim, and he was out for much of the season.
He did make a few big contributions though, including his amazing 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Week 6 in the game against the Cleveland Browns.
2012 should be a rather exciting year for Ford.
Kicker Sebastian Janikowski has been one of the most solidly consistent players who have ever worn the Silver and Black, and 2011 was no exception. If it wasn't for his powerful kicks, there are more than a few games that would have been losses instead of wins.
In the opening game of the season at Denver, he kicked the historic record-setting field goal of 63 yards, and Sea Bass set another NFL record in the game against the Houston Texans with three successful field goal kicks of over 50 yards.
He was key in the Raiders win over the Bears, kicking six field goals and in Week 16 against the Kansas City Chiefs, he kicked the winning 36-yard field goal to keep the Raiders playoff chances alive.
Janikowski is an offensive weapon the Silver and Black can't do without.
From the minute receiver Denarius Moore showed up to training camp, he's shown true dedication to the Silver and Black. He was nominated for the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week for the third time in the 2011 season for his efforts in the all-important game in Kansas City where he caught four passes for 94 yards and scored a touchdown.
Moore may be the star receiver in 2012. He was called the best steal of the draft in 2011 and Carson Palmer, has sang the praises of the 23-year-old wide receiver, crediting him as one of the reasons he's so excited for the season to get underway.
Palmer told Adam Schein and Rich Gannon back in February that watching a "big time receiver in the making," is inspiring, and that he loves how much excitement Moore has for the game.
The Oakland Raiders No. 1 offensive weapon is running back Darren McFadden. When he's healthy, he's unstoppable. He was just one of many players who recently talked about how fired up he is for 2012, and this week, he was named one of the top 100 players in the NFL.
McFadden is considered to be one of the best running backs in the league, and in the first game of the 2011 season, he rushed for 150 yards against Denver—the most ever for a Raiders' running back in a season opener.
In barely over six games last year, he accumulated 614 yards and 113 carries with four touchdowns. In 2010, he amassed 1,157 rushing yards with 223 carries and seven touchdowns, and on the receiving end, he had 47 catches, 507 yards and three touchdowns.
I can't wait to see the numbers he puts up this year!
Note: Although I didn't include them on this list, there are a number of rookies who could potentially become outstanding offensive weapons as well, including Juron Criner, Rod Streater and several others.