Oakland Raiders: 5 Players Key to a Playoff Berth

J.P. Scott@TheJPScottSenior Analyst IJune 13, 2012

Oakland Raiders: 5 Players Key to a Playoff Berth

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    There has been a lot of changeover for Oakland both on and off the field as of late.

    That said, this is a team loaded with potential.  They have a nice blend of young guys and veterans, who, if they can mesh, could make a serious run at a playoff berth this season.

    Here are five Raiders who could be critical pieces to a potential silver and black playoff run.

David Ausberry

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    Ausberry has the physical tools to join the ranks of Rob Gronkowski, Vernon Davis and Jimmy Graham as an elite playmaker at the tight end position.

    Having shown flashes of brilliance early on, the Raiders will feature him in a more prominent role in 2012.  

    Given a roster full of deep threats, Ausberry should be able to find success in one-on-one coverage in the middle of the field.

    He should prove to be a valuable go-to option for Carson Palmer.

Dave Tollefson

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    Tollefson brings championship experience, veteran leadership and needed depth to a defense that struggled in 2011

    He should see considerable playing time and be an integral part of an improved Oakland Raider pass rush.

Darren McFadden

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    Everyone knows what McFadden is capable of when healthy.  If he can stay on the field, he'll provide Oakland's offense with one of the most electric playmakers in the game.

    His success will be necessary in order to keep opposing defenses honest, allowing Palmer and the receiving corps ample time to air it out as needed.

Stefan Wisniewski

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    Wisniewski, who has silver and black blood pumping through his veins, will take over the permanent role of center.  

    He'll be the pivot-point of an offensive line in much need of a solid leader.

    The chemistry of this Oakland line will be what makes or breaks the offense. If they can come together, the offense has all of the pieces in place to be nearly unstoppable. 

Carson Palmer

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    Palmer will be relied on heavily as both quarterback and coach on the field for first-year head coach Dennis Allen.

    A full offseason under his belt in Oakland should help him regain some of his confidence and achieve a similar level of success as he had during his best years in Cincinnati.

    He has a barrage of weapons at his disposal, which should allow him to put up decent numbers.  

    His health and the offensive line's ability to protect him will be paramount, as the talent on the depth chart behind him is sparse.