With training camp underway and four postseason games as a teaser, Oakland Raiders fans are gearing up for what could be the first playoff trip since 2002.
The start of last season showed promise under Jason Campbell, as the Raiders were 4-2 before a broken collarbone derailed his efforts.
First-year head coach Dennis Allen will have success this season by handing the ball to star running back Darren McFadden. McFadden will be the playmaker for the team, and a standout season of his could very well indicate a playoff birth for the Raiders.
There is no doubt McFadden will a fan favorite in 2012—exponentially so for the homers that draft McFadden onto their fantasy team.
Thus, the following are four players who will be fan favorites in 2012 besides McFadden.
As with every other football team, wins often mean praise for the starting quarterback.
Carson Palmer will undoubtedly be a fan favorite if the Raiders have a strong 2012 season. Palmer has the ability to harness what led him to 26 touchdowns in 2010, but what's key is a reduction in interceptions—Palmer has thrown 36 picks in his last 26 games.
Hopefully a developed connection with receivers Darrius Heyward-Bey and Denarius Moore translates to success on the field.
That said about Palmer, the Raiders are not going to succeed because they are an offensive juggernaut. Rather, they will be a balanced football team led by a strong defense—particularly linebacker Rolando McClain.
In his two years, McClain has played 30 games and recorded 184 tackles, with 136 of those being solo. A primary run stopper, McClain is the anchor of a strong defensive corps.
Evidence for a strong 2012 season is the improvement McClain had shown during his sophomore season. The biggest improvement last season was his pass rush, finishing the season with five sacks.
McClain will have a strong season, and another boost in sacks should be expected.
Plus, nothing gets the home crowd pumped like a blitzing linebacker getting a sack on third down.
The Raiders have the best kickers in the NFL—hands down.
The combination of Sebastian Janikowski and Shane Lechler has won the Raiders multiple games over the last few years.
Whether it be a booming 50-yard field goal or a sky-scraping punt, fans are often aghast at the legs of the Raiders kickers.
They will continue to be fan favorites for their uncanny kicking skills in 2012.
Palmer, McClain, Janikowski and Lechler will be huge in helping McFadden carry this team. As the Raiders look to take command of a fierce division, look for fans to be singing the praise of these four amidst any success.