Oakland Raiders Complete Training Camp and Preseason Guide
No one wants to go to three different locations to find the training camp roster, preseason schedule and camp battles. We've put that together for you along with the team's biggest question marks, players to watch, analysis of the 2012 rookie class and a 53-man roster projection so everything you need is all in one place.
Training camp information is here, and so are players on the roster bubble and a preview of the preseason games. There's really no need to go anywhere else: Bleacher Report has you covered.
The Biggest Question Marks
The Raiders lost their primary pass-rush threat in Kamerion Wimbley in the offseason and weren't able to replace him with a similar player. Instead the Raiders brought in a different type of linebacker and will rely on the new defensive scheme to generate the pressure.
The return of Matt Shaughnessy should help things, but the question of pressure remains a hot topic.
The Raiders are returning the zone-blocking scheme after spending the last two years moving away from it. The offensive line appears young and agile enough to make it work, but there remains doubt that the scheme suits Darren McFadden.
Then there is the question of the two backup running backs stepping in and producing if McFadden goes down with an injury once again.
West Coast Offense
Carson Palmer is not a very mobile quarterback, but Greg Knapp's offense will ask him to run a lot of boots, rolls and keepers. The concern is the offense doesn't fit Palmer, and the Raiders are trying to mold Palmer into their system rather than molding the system to their quarterback.
If Palmer's passing effectiveness takes a dip any more than it did last season, then the trade Hue Jackson orchestrated last season will look terrible, even if a lot of the blame will fall squarely upon the shoulders of the new offensive coordinator.
The Revamped Defense
There could be as many as five new starters on defense by the time all the starting jobs are sorted out. The defense wasn't very good last year, but the changes that have been made make some people believe the defense will be even worse in 2012.
Will the veterans that were added to the roster improve the reliability of the defense, or will it simply make the defense look at play old?
Darren McFadden is always a player to watch closely when it comes to injuries, but the Raiders also have Matt Shaughnessy coming off a shoulder injury and Ron Bartell coming off a neck injury.
Mike Mitchell was nursing a knee injury during mini-camp, and Denarus Moore always seems to be nicking himself up in practice and missing a few days.
The Raiders have also had dozens of hamstring and foot injuries that the team can't seem to solve.
Players on the Roster Bubble
A lack of depth at cornerback gives undrafted rookie cornerback Conroy Black as shot to make the roster. It might still be a long shot, but all he needs to do is play better than Pat Lee and Brandon Underwood.
It might be a surprise to see one of Reggie McKenzie's draft picks on this list, but with Travis Ivey likely to make the roster as a run stopper, there might not be enough roster sports for Bilukidi.
McGee was an offseason favorite to crack the 53-man roster, but the additions of Rod Streater and Juron Criner push McGee back to the practice squad.
No one knows how much the leadership likes returning safeties Matt Giordano and Mike Mitchell, leaving open the door for a new backup at the safety position. Henry is talented enough to have a good camp and win the job.
The Raiders need quality offensive lineman as reserves, but versatility is key and Nix is probably a guard only at the NFL level. He'll have to be extra impressive in camp to make it, but he's got a chance.
One of two ex-Packers signed by Reggie McKenzie. He's certainly a talented young guy and his making the roster will depend largely on his player during training camp. Special teams could make a different for a guy like Underwood.
The Raiders need Lee as a gunner on special teams, but if he's not solid in coverage and on special teams the Raiders might look to someone else to fill his role.
Five interceptions in 2011 wasn't enough to cement Giordano's status, but his relationship with Dennis Allen couldn't hurt. That said, Giordano is still going to have to perform to win the job and send several other safety prospects home.
Classic tweener that played defensive end in college and is going to transition to a rush linebacker. He'll need to show good pass-rush skills, ability to fill in run support and the occasional coverage skill to make the roster. The coaches like his potential, but getting past offensive lineman in pads can be harder than non-padded practices.
The team's patience is wearing thin on Mitchell, plus he can't stay healthy. The Raiders have plenty of other options to fill Mitchell's role if he doesn't show up during training camp.
The Raiders are actually pretty deep at the middle/inside linebacker position, as almost all the other linebackers can play inside and outside. Stupar is good on special teams and could make the roster in that capacity, but he's going to have to play well at inside linebacker as well.
Players to Watch
Shaughnessy is also coming off injury and he had one of the best training camps in 2011. If he's back to full strength, he could make noise during the padded practices once again.
The Raiders brought in Tollefson as a situation pass-rusher and will get the chance to test his abilities during the preseason.
The raw, relatively unknown defensive end has the opportunity to become the next Matt Shaughnessy or the next draft disappointment. Everyone will be watching to see which.
Two average years in a row is good enough for his draft slot, and the Alabama product is also dealing with off-the-field issues. Now all eyes will be on McClain as he tries to rebound in Dennis Allen's defensive scheme.
He's showed good ability during training camp twice, only to get injured. Can he flash again and stay healthy this time? Time will tell.
Free-agent acquisitions always get attention, but the Raiders have been particularly bad at linebacker, and many believe Wheeler could be more than a short-term rental. How he plays early will go a long way into cementing his status as a leader.
The raw receiver-turned-tight end gained weight in the offseason to better adjust to the rigors of his position. The fans will be watching for signs of improvement in Ausberry's game both as blocker and receiver.
Injuries and the emergence of Denarius Moore pushed Ford down the depth chart in 2011. Fans will be watching to see if Ford has regained his impressive burst and how the Raiders plan to use him with all the other offensive weapons.
Bryant is moving from defensive end back to defensive tackle. He'll have more run responsibilities, and the Raiders aren't particularly strong at stopping the run since releasing John Henderson.
Best Depth Chart Battles
The Raiders signed two veteran cornerbacks, Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell, but they stopped at two because of a belief in DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa. Spencer needs to play well to hold onto his starting job on the outside, or he could find himself as the slot corner, or worse, a backup.
Spencer got the first shot with the first-team defense during mini-camp, but Van Dyke and Chekwa are expected to get first-team reps during training camp to better determine the best player on the roster to be the starter.
Brandon Myers has the early lead on the starting tight end position, but Richard Gordon and David Ausberry figure to push him during training camp. Gordon will be working on his pass catching and Ausberry on his blocking during training camp.
It's a wide-open camp battle, and any of the tight ends could emerge as the starter.
After Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford and Juron Criner, there are one or two roster spots left for receivers, but eight players are competing.
Rod Streater appears to be a great candidate for one of the spots, and Louis Murphy could win the other spot, but a big camp from Brandon Carswell, Eddie McGee, Derek Carrier or Travionte Session can change things in a hurry.
With all the changes and the new scheme, there probably isn't a position that is safe at linebacker. Aaron Curry, Rolando McClain and Philip Wheeler are projected to start, but Travis Goethel and Miles Burris could push for jobs in training camp, and undrafted players like Marion Kurn and Kaelin Burnett could have a role as well.
It will be interesting to see how the linebacker position sorts itself out during training camp and if the position produces a surprise in 2012.
Full Oakland Raiders Training Camp and Preseason Schedule
Veterans and Rookies - July 29
Mon, 08/13 at 5:00 PM PDT
Location: O.co Coliseum
@ Arizona Cardinals
Fri, 08/17 at 7:00 PM PDT
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium
Sat, 08/25 at 4:00 PM PDT
Location: O.co Coliseum
@ Seattle Seahawks
Thu, 08/30 at 7:00 PM PDT
Location: CenturyLink Field
Oakland Raiders Training Camp Info
July 29-August 23
Closed to the public.
Napa Valley Marriott, Napa, CA
Redwood Middle School
The 17th consecutive year the Raiders have held training camp in Napa. One of the truly unique training camp sites in the NFL. The hotel is adjacent to the middle school practice fields, and logistically the Raiders have never been able to open training camp to the public at such an intimate site. Select season ticket-holders get the opportunity to visit training camp for a day.
Raider Nation Celebration
Free and open to the public. Autograph signings, the Raiderettes and kids activities.
When: August 12, 2012 from 1 - 4 p.m.
Where: O.co Coliseum, parking lot B.
Full Oakland Raiders Camp Roster
|Van Dyke, DeMarcus||DB||23|
Oakland Raiders 2012 Rookie Class
Christo Bilukidi, DT
Bilukidi was a surprising addition because the Raiders are at least three deep at defensive tackle, but with Richard Seymour due $19.1 million in 2013, the Raiders are planning for the future. Bilukidi probably won't figure into the defensive line rotation in his rookie year unless there are injuries.
Jack Crawford, DE
The Raiders are even deeper at defensive end than they are at defensive tackle, but Matt Shaughnessy is a free agent in 2013 and the Raiders could eventually move Lamarr Houston inside. Crawford might not see many snaps initially but could work his way into a primary backup role with a good training camp.
Juron Criner, WR
Criner made a lot of noise during mini-camp and OTAs, and he'll need to continue that throughout training camp. He's got the size and hands to become a primary backup right away, but he's buried several other players. With a strong camp, he'll force the Raiders to find a way to get him on the field, and the Raiders are likely to use him in the red zone and on third down.
Miles Burris, LB
Burris will compete for a starting job at outside linebacker and should see plenty of snaps during training camp. The Raiders will be trying to determine where to best use Burris, and he might eventually move to middle linebacker. Pay close attention to where the Raiders are lining Burris up during training camp to see where he might ultimately land. Most of the linebackers on the roster are interchangeable, and Burris could end up at any of the linebacker spots.
Nathan Stupar, LB
Primarily an inside linebacker and core special teams player. There's a chance he doesn't make the final 53-man roster, but with the lack of depth at the linebacker spot, he could stick because of his ability on special teams. Sleeper to be primary backup in the middle but will have to overcome Travis Goethel.
Tony Bergstrom, OL
He should push Cooper Carlisle for the starting job at left guard during training camp, but the Raiders might opt to stick with the veteran this season. Bergstrom can backup several spots on the offensive line and should be the first or second player of the bench in case of an injury. He's familiar with the zone-blocking scheme but will be adjusting to a new position during training camp.
Oakland Raiders 2012 Undrafted Free Agents
Aaron Henry, S
A raw safety with some athletic ability. He could push for a roster spot but is a prime candidate for the practice squad. He'll need to display good instincts and quick diagnosis of plays during training camp to have a shot of winning a job on the final roster.
Brandon Carswell, WR
If the Raiders choose to keep six receivers, one of the undrafted guys will have a chance at a roster spot. Carswell has as good of a chance as any of them to make it because he works hard and is a willing blocker.
Chaz Powell, S
He's a size and speed prospect that only played defensive back for one year. Powell is converted receiver that needs a lot of work on his technique. Another prime candidate for the practice squad but could make plays during training camp due to his athletic ability.
Conroy Black, CB
Apparently Reggie McKenzie will take a chance on athletes that need some work on technique because Black, like Powell and Henry, is a player with good tools that needs work on his technique. Has an outside shot at making the final roster with a good training camp due to the lack of depth at cornerback. A lot depends on where the Raiders choose to play several veteran defensive backs.
Dan Knapp, T
Converted from tight end at Arizona State and has only played offensive line for two years. Is a hard-working player that still has the agile feet of a tight end. A candidate to become the next Alex Parsons and stick around on the practice squad for a couple years to refine his technique.
Derek Carrier, WR
Coming from a Division III school will make it difficult on Carrier to make the final roster, but he's got great size for a receiver and might eventually be tried as a tight end. Carrier will need to flash in training camp and demonstrate he has skills worth keeping around. Could land on practice squad if he demonstrates good long-term upside.
Dominique Hamilton, DT
A powerful defensive tackle that needs to learns the little things to become a complete player. Some had him pegged as a potential nose tackle due prior to the draft. The Raiders are without a run stopper up the middle, so there is a roster spot potentially open for just such a player if he can refine his technique during training camp.
Eddy Carmona, K
A camp leg that the Raiders will keep in mind should something happen to Sebastian Janikowski.
Kaelin Burnett, LB
One of the more intriguing undrafted free agents and a player worth watching throughout training camp. Burnett was a defensive end for his senior season at Nevada and overcome several obstacles just to play football after a serious hip injury last year. The Raiders like him as a rush linebacker, and he can also play special teams, giving him a good shot to stick on the final roster.
Kyle Efaw, TE
There is already a lot of depth at tight end, and typically the third tight end is going to be blocking specialist rather than big receiver like Efaw. He'll need to develop his blocking to have a chance of sticking as a third tight end but could end up on the practice squad for further development.
Kyle Newhall-Caballero, QB
Purely a depth quarterback and camp arm at this point, but a strong camp could always make him something more.
Lucas Nix, G
Nix is a good fit for the zone-blocking scheme and will have the opportunity to compete for a backup job. Has a chance to make the roster with a strong camp, but there are a lot of players competing for one or two backup jobs on the offensive line.
Mario Kurn, LB
Missed a lot of time due to injury his senior season, but he's got a great motor and he's relentless. Reminds me a little of Miles Burris. Lack of depth at linebacker means he could get into the mix for a roster spot with a good training camp. Biggest challenge will be dropping back into coverage as he was primarily a pass-rusher at San Diego.
Marquette King, P
One of the more curious undrafted rookie free-agent signings. There is no room for King with Shane Lechler on the roster, and few teams like to waste a practice squad spot on a specialist. His number could be on speed dial should something happen to Lechler's golden leg.
Rod Streater, WR
Streater earned first-team reps during the team's mandatory mini-camp, which is a very good sign that he's made a favorable early impression on his coaches. He's a deep threat who does a good job adjusting to the ball in the air and catching with his hands. He's got good size and speed for the position. A great candidate to make the final roster, but he'll have to prove he can beat the press once the Raiders put the pad on.
Thomas Mayo, WR
Mayo is a raw small school prospect with above-average athleticism. He's got the size and vertical leap to make it as a possession receiver, but he's had inconsistent hands so far and lacks elite agility to make defenders miss. A long shot at this point that needs to quickly rebound during training camp.
Wayne Dorsey, DE
Prior to transferring to Mississippi, Dorsey was the No. 1 JUCO recruit in the nation. He broke his arm after just six games last season but managed to register three sacks and five tackles for a loss. He looks the part at 6'6", 272 pounds. He'll have to play fast and furious during training camp and is another player that could eventually end up on the practice squad.
Oakland Raiders 2012 Free Agency and Trade Additions
Dave Tollefson, DE
The Raiders went looking for inexpensive pass rush and found it with Tollefson in free agency. ProFootballFocus.com had him as one of the least productive pass rushers in the NFL last season, but the Raiders were desperate for the depth. According to ProFootballFocus, Tollefson generated just 16 combined sacks, hurries and quarterback hits in 297 snaps rushing the quarterback.
He should be primarily a backup to Matt Shaughnessy, but he'll replace Lamarr Houston on pass-rushing downs.
Mike Goodson, RB
The Raiders made no attempt to retain veteran backup Michael Bush and instead shipped offensive lineman Bruce Campbell to Carolina for Goodson. The Panthers ran the zone-blocking system in Carolina for years, and Goodson is well versed in the scheme. With the Raiders' switch back to the zone scheme in 2011, Goodson was an inexpensive addition that should compete with Taiwan Jones to be Darren McFadden's backup.
Ron Bartell, CB
Desperate for a quality cornerback after releasing both Stanford Routt and Chris Johnson, the Raiders struck quickly in signing Bartell. If healthy and fully recovered from a scary neck injury, Bartell should easily be one of the two starting cornerbacks.
Shawntae Spencer, CB
With Bartell likely cemented as the starter on one side, the Raiders will give DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chewka the opportunity to compete for the starting job with Spencer. There's little depth at the position, and the loser of the training camp competition will either be a slot cornerback or primary injury replacement. Spencer will figure into one of those three roles depending on his training camp performance.
Philip Wheeler, LB
The salary cap forced the Raiders to release linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, and his departure left a huge hole at the position. Aside from Aaron Curry and Rolando McClain, the depth was questionable at best. Wheeler played well when given the opportunity in Indianapolis, and the Raiders brought him in to compete for a starting outside linebacker job. The Raiders will likely use several different alignments, but Wheeler is versatile enough to play in any of them even if he loses his job to a guy like Miles Burris.
Pat Lee, DB
A notable addition to the roster because of his history in Green Bay and also ability as the gunner on special teams. The Raiders let their gunner go in free agency and will need a player like Lee to take his place. He can also provide depth in the secondary as a slot corner and backup safety. That type of versatility is usually enough to make the roster.
Brandon Underwood, DB
Off-the-field issues plagued Underwood in Green Bay, but McKenzie has given him another chance in Oakland. He'll have to prove he can be valuable as a reserve safety and cornerback during training camp to stick on the final roster, but there isn't much depth at those two positions.
Game-by-Game Preseason Analysis and Predictions
Week 1 vs. Dallas Cowboys
Matchup to watch
Denarius Moore vs. Morris Claiborne
The Cowboys and the Raiders have a long history of playing during the preseason because the Cowboys hold their training camp in Oxnard, California.
Typically the first preseason game is sloppy, but it's always nice to get a look the rookies for the first time and see what kind of players might make the final roster. It's the first time the offensive line will have an opportunity to execute the zone-blocking system at full speed and utilize cut blocks against live opponents.
Denarius Moore will put highly-touted rookie cornerback Morris Claiborne to the test early, and I'm sure the Raiders will try to go over the top at least once on the youngster.
Week 2 @ Arizona Cardinals
Matchup to watch
Larry Fitzgerald vs. DeMarcus Van Dyke
If DeMarcus Van Dyke wants to win the starting job at cornerback, he'll have to perform against one of the best in this preseason game.
The second preseason game is usually the most pivotal game for players on the roster bubble, and players hoping to earn one of the last spots on the final 53-man roster will need to win battles in the second half. Players that haven't had a good training camp are as good as gone if they can't get on the field during this game as the team will have to shed 10 players shortly after the third preseason game.
Week 3 vs. Detroit Lions
Match up to watch
Calvin Johnson vs. DeMarcus Van Dyke
If DeMarcus Van Dyke wants to win the starting job at cornerback, he'll have to perform against one of the best in this preseason game. Sounds familiar...
The third preseason game is sometimes the only one worth watching, but we usually watch the first two because we are starved for NFL action.
The starters play a full half and sometimes a drive or two in the second half in this game. The coaching staff also does a little game planning against the opposition. It's the best chance to get a look at what the 2012 Raiders might be like before the games start counting.
For up to 10 players, this could be their final shot to make a favorable impression on the coaching staff as the rosters cut down to 80 on August 28.
Week 4 @ Seattle Seahawks
Matchup to watch
Ricardo Lockette vs. Conroy Black
The starters typically don't play at all during the final preseason game. Preseason stars are born in the final preseason game, and two days later when the team cuts down to 53 players, they fizzle out. At least 17 players will be released after this game, and usually there are 20 or more players fighting for a handful of open roster spots.
The coaches probably have most if not all of the 53-man roster finalized, but an injury or great performance during this final preseason game might be the difference between making the roster and not making the roster.
You'll see a lot of interesting match ups between players headed to the practice squad.
Projecting the Final 53-Man Roster
Defensive Backs (10): Chimdi Chekwa, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Ron Bartell, Shawntae Spencer, Brandon Underwood, Pat Lee, Matt Giordano, Michael Huff, Tyvon Branch, Mike Mitchell
Defensive Ends (4): Lamarr Houston, Matt Shaughnessy, David Tollefson, Jack Crawford
Defensive Tackles (4): Richard Seymour, Desmond Bryant, Tommy Kelly, Travis Ivey
Fullbacks (2): Marcel Reece, Owen Schmitt
Offensive Lineman (8): Cooper Carlisle, Stefen Wisniewski, Mike Brisiel, Alex Parsons, Tony Bergstrom, Joseph Barksdale, Khalif Barnes, Jared Veldheer
Linebackers (7): Rolando McClain, Travis Goethel, Aaron Curry, Philip Wheeler, Kaelin Burnett, Miles Burris, Nathan Stupar
Quarterbacks (3): Carson Palmer, Terrelle Pryor, Matt Leinart
Running Backs (3): Taiwan Jones, Mike Goodson, Darren McFadden
Tight Ends (3): David Ausberry, Richard Gordon, Brandon Myers
Wide Receivers (6): Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Louis Murphy, Juron Criner, Rod Streater
Specialists (3): Sebastian Janikowski, Shane Lechler, Jon Condo
Practice Squad (9): Conroy Black, Christo Bilukidi, Eddie McGee, Aaron Henry, Lucas Nix
Derrick Carrier. Chaz Powell, Dominique Hamilton, Carl Ihenacho