The 2012 season is only weeks away, and the Oakland Raiders depth charts are being determined.
As we have seen in the past, the Raiders have often been bitten by the injury bug and have relied heavily on their depth to finish out the season.
Let’s take a look at the four most important backup players on the Raiders roster, and how they can help the Raiders achieve a successful season.
Oakland Raiders Matt Leinart
Starter: Carson Palmer
6-5 / 236, 10 yrs NFL Experience
Backup: Matt Leinart
6-5 / 227, 7 yrs NFL Experience
Carson Palmer is coming off a fresh offseason with Oakland’s new West Coast offense playbook in his hands. A new offense which includes new zone-blocking schemes and terminology.
Typically, this position is the biggest drop off for any team that is unlucky enough to have their quarterback go down to injury. If that happens in Oakland, there is a higher level of comfort with Matt Leinart on the roster.
Matt Leinart reunites with Greg Knapp, his former quarterbacks coach for the past two years from the Houston Texans. Leinart strongly believes that he regained his confidence as a quarterback thanks to Knapp’s continued positive attitude and emphasis on reducing mental errors.
Other journalists also believe Leinart is a wise choice as Carson Palmer's backup. CNNSI columnist Peter King believes Leinart will be "one of the best insurance policies in the NFL" this season.
Leinart’s familiarity with Greg Knapp’s system and years of experience make him the best backup Oakland has had at the position in years.
Starter: Darren McFadden
6-2 / 210, 4 yrs NFL Experience
Backup: Mike Goodson
6-0 / 212, 3 yrs NFL Experience
When healthy, Darren McFadden is a stud. He led the NFL in rushing in 2012, until yet another injury. But there is the rub: McFadden is often injured. In total, McFadden has missed 19 games in his career. Welcome Mike Goodson to the Oakland Raiders.
Mike Goodson spent the last three seasons with the Carolina Panthers where he ran for 501 yards and three touchdowns behind starters DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. Between that running-back duo, it’s easy to see how Goodson would get limited touches.
Now that Michael Bush is off to the Chicago Bears, Goodson will have plenty of opportunities to get his hands on the ball. And should McFadden once again go down, Goodson will have his opportunity to step in as full-time starter.
Starter: Rolando McClain
6-3 / 255, 2 yrs NFL Experience
Backup: Travis Goethel
6-2 / 240, 2 yrs NFL Experience
Due to poor play on the field and legal issues off the field, Rolando McClain’s ownership to this position is in jeopardy, and Travis Goethel is primed to make a move.
Goethel’s career has been injury-laden, playing only eight games as a rookie due to a back injury and missing all of the 2012 season thanks to a knee surgery.
According to CBSSports, Raiders head coach Dennis Allen is high on Goethel and has said he “has a chance to be very good” barring any additional injuries.
Travis Goethel has a LOT of upside. And with the lack of depth at the middle linebacker position, this is one backup that may be starting sooner than later.
Starter: Richard Seymour
6-6 / 310, 11 yrs NFL Experience
Backup: Desmond Bryant
6-5 / 290, 3 yrs NFL Experience
Eleven-year veteran Richard Seymour received his $7.5 million roster bonus and is insured to be with the Oakland Raiders for the 2012 season.
While his productivity is still exceptional (29 tackles and six sacks in 2011), he is also 33 years old. The Raiders need to have insurance in case he goes down to serious injury.
The versatile Desmond Bryant can not only fill that role but play both defensive tackle and defensive end. Bryant finished the 2011 season matching Seymour’s stats with 30 tackles and 5 sacks in 2011.
Bryant is ready to take that next step and be a full-time starter for the Oakland Raiders; time will tell when he gets that opportunity.