Oakland Raiders: 6 Players Who Will Lose Their Starting Spot by Week 8

Christopher HansenNFL AnalystJune 15, 2012

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 12:  Brandon Myers #83 of the Oakland Raiders tries to avoid the tackle of Champ Bailey #24 of the Denver Broncos during the game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on September 12, 2011 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Garrett W. Ellwood/Getty Images)
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images

Starting jobs can be won and lost in training camp, but sometimes it takes a little longer to convince the coaching staff that they can trust a young player over a veteran.

It might take a few games with a young player in a supporting role before the coaching staff makes the switch. 

There are several players that have been getting the majority of the snaps with the first team during the offseason program that could lose their jobs by midseason.

Five for Friday, plus one.

 

Cooper Carlisle

Carlisle received the majority, if not all, of the first-team snaps at left guard during the Raiders' offseason program.

His current status is not necessarily reflective of where he will be in training camp, week one or week eight. Things can change rapidly during camp, particularly once the players put on pads.

Offensive and defensive line jobs are tough to gauge without contact. Carlisle may be winning the mental game due to his vast experience in the zone-blocking scheme, but that will change once he has to block Tommy Kelly, Richard Seymour and Desmond Bryant.

What should not be lost when discussing Carlisle's role is how general manager Reggie McKenzie replaced the relatively affordable Carlisle with Mike Brisiel at left guard. After being released, Carlisle was re-signed to play left guard before McKenzie selected left guard Tony Bergstrom with the Raiders' first draft pick.

 

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 07: Khalif Barnes #69 of the Oakland Raiders celebrates after catching a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during an NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on November 7, 2010 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacob
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

Khalif Barnes

The Raiders have been looking for a franchise right tackle for years. Barnes has not been good enough to win over the Raider Nation, but he's been unjustly lumped with the past, specifically Langston Walker and Cornell Green.

Part of Barnes issue has been penalties, but that's also been an issue for the entire team judging from the penalty records the Raiders smashed in 2012.

In 2011, Barnes struggled when asked to block in the running game, but the zone-blocking system could help him.

No matter how unjustly Barnes may have been judged in the past, there are other offensive lineman that could—and should—push for his starting job.

Joseph Barksdale should be the first player to be mentioned that could steal Barnes starting job. Barksdale confirmed to me on Twitter that he likes the zone-blocking scheme and that he's familiar with it from his time in college at LSU.

Barksdale's was criticised coming out of college for his aggressiveness, but praised for his footwork. Sounds like the traits of a starting offensive lineman in the zone-blocking scheme.

 

Shawntae Spencer

SAN FRANCISCO - AUGUST 18:  Defensive back Shawntae Spencer #36 of the San Francisco 49ers during a preseason game against the Oakland Raiders on August 18, 2007 at Monster Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Greg Trott/Getty Images)
Greg Trott/Getty Images

General manager Reggie McKenzie left the possibility of one of the young players beating out a veteran for the starting job at cornerback wide open.

It's easy to approach this particular case with skepticism, but Spencer and Ron Bartell are hardly Darrelle Revis and Charles Woodson. Both Spencer and Bartell are on 'prove-it' one-year contracts.

If Demarcus Van Dyke or Chimdi Chekwa can play at least as well as one of the two veterans it would be an easy decision for the Raiders.to make. Start the younger guy.

In the case of Van Dyke, he announced via Twitter that he's trying to come into training camp at 190 pounds. If successful, Van Dyke would equal the height and weight of Spencer. With added size, Van Dyke could surprise in 2012 and steal Spencer's starting job.

 

Marcel Reece

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 06: Marcel Reece #45 of the Oakland Raiders catches a forty yard touchdown pass over D.J. Williams #55 of the Denver Broncos at O.co Coliseum on November 6, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Reece could lose his starting job because of what he doesn't do well: block. Despite his great efforts over the past two years, he's still not a very good blocker.

It's tough enough to learn to block in the NFL, but the Raiders are also switching back to the zone-blocking scheme and Reece will need to learn where, when, why and who to block, not just how.

Enter zone-blocking fullback Owen Schmitt, who is known for his blocking ability and has had success as a blocker for most of his career.

As a rookie in 2008, Schmitt blocked for a combination of Julius Jones and Maurice Morris, who combined to average 4.4 yards per carry. In 2009, it was Justin Forsett and Julius Jones who combined to average 4.4, with Forsett averaging 5.4 yards per carry. LeSean McCoy averaged 5.2 yards per carry in 2010 and 4.8 yards per carry in 2011.

In Schmitt's four seasons, these running backs have combined to rush for 4943 yards on 1061 attempts and averaged 4.7 yards per carry running behind him. Combined, the top 10 rushers in the NFL in 2011 averaged 4.6 yards per carry.

Knapp is a run-heavy offensive coordinator, and although the talent at receiver and quarterback might force him to open up the playbook, it's definitely possible Schmitt will end up being the “starter” at fullback.

Reece will have a role, and it could be an important or otherwise significant one without him actually being the starter.

 

Brandon Myers

David Ausberry could overtake Brandon Myers for the starting tight end spot.
David Ausberry could overtake Brandon Myers for the starting tight end spot.Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Carson Palmer thinks Brandon Myers is the starting tight end. Just based on experience at the position, Palmer probably isn't too far off. Myers has much more seasoning than the other tight ends on the roster.

The offseason is a good time to hype young players like David Ausberry, but when the time comes the veterans still rise to the top. It takes some regular season seasoning as backups before the coaching staff starts to trust a young player.

It's not just Ausberry pushing for the job, as Richard Gordon also flashed some receiving ability at training camp Wednesday.

Both Ausberry and Gordon should push Myers, with one becoming the starter by midseason.

 

Rolando McClain

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 27:  Caleb Hanie #12 of the Chicago Bears runs with the ball stiff arming Rolando McClain #55 of the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum on November 27, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Perhaps the reasons why McClain could not be starting by midseason would be best in list form.

  1. His legal issues could force him to take too much time away from the team to be effective.

  2. He could be convicted by a jury and put in jail.

  3. Roger Goodell could flex his king-like powers over the players and suspend McClain based on the personal conduct policy.

  4. He could be ineffective, with a young linebacker rising and ready to take his spot.

There are too many variables with McClain, and the Raiders have no choice but to wait and see what happens with his legal matter. Hopefully the coaches can figure out a way to get him to play much better in 2012 than he has in his first two seasons.

 

 What players do you think could lose their starting spot?