Oakland Raiders OTAs: Latest Player Reports and Analysis
The first week of the Oakland Raiders’ OTAs proved to be more exciting than many anticipated, as the team capped it off by signing Charles Woodson to a free-agent deal.
As is always the case with any of the first minicamps, very little should be put into the performances of players on the field. With as many new faces as there are, including those on the coaching staff, there are many adjustments to be made.
Having said that, there are always small points of the week that are worth noting and analyzing, as they can go a long way to answering certain questions we on the outside may have.
Here are the latest reports and analysis from the Oakland Raiders’ offseason team activities.
Positive Reviews for Tyler Wilson
All indications from last week’s OTAs were that fourth-round rookie QB Tyler Wilson looked very comfortable and efficient in his on-field reps with the team.
Quarterbacks Tyler Wilson and Matt Flynn looked sharp for most of practice. Their passes were crisp, on time and on target, for the most part. Via Contra Costa Times.
This note from beat writer Steve Corkran coincided with most, if not all, other observations from media attendees, seeing both Wilson and Flynn as the best quarterbacks of the day, with Terrelle Pryor experiencing some more struggles in comparison.
Of course, this all means very little in the grand scheme of the position battle, but it is important for a young player in Wilson’s position to get off to a good start.
Although Matt Flynn remains the favorite, Wilson’s skill set and experience at the collegiate level, coming in the SEC no less, will give him an opportunity to win what should be a wide-open quarterback competition.
The performance of each Raiders quarterback will be interesting to follow throughout the offseason programs, and we can expect the competition to continue right up until the start of the regular season.
Open Competition at Punter
When the Raiders’ coaching staff and management stressed competition at every position this offseason, they really meant it.
For the first time in what will seem like forever for Raiders fans, there will be an open competition at punter, and it just may be one of the more interesting to follow throughout.
When the team opted to not re-sign Shane Lechler, it was assumed that the young Marquette King would be handed the job. However, prior to last week’s OTAs, the Raiders added a veteran presence in former Minnesota Viking, Chris Kluwe.
Having essentially stashed King on injured reserve for the entirety of the 2012 season, the team is certainly intrigued by his potential, but he will now have to win the job.
As expected, we are nowhere near deciphering which of the two is ahead or behind in the competition, but CSN Bay Area’s Paul Gutierrez broke down what he saw:
The camp battle at punter is going to be a good one. Recent signee Chris Kluwe put on a clinic with his coffin corner kicks, pinning the returners. Marquette King, meanwhile, was working on an Australian rules-style kick that had the ball traveling high and end over end. The result was two straight drops by the returners. Via CSN Bay Area.
It seems that both punters bring something different to the table, again making this one of the more interesting position battles to follow throughout the offseason.
Tony Bergstrom at First-Team Left Guard
Heading into the first on-field team activities, one of the more noteworthy items was certain to be who wouldthe Raiders would send out with their first-team offensive line.
As the Contra Costa Times’ Steve Corkran reported, it was Tony Bergstrom who took snaps with the first unit at left guard, one of several positions up front that is likely undecided at this point.
There was some question as to whether or not the Raiders would continue to see Bergstrom as a fit for their offense, having abandoned the zone-blocking scheme they had drafted him to be a part of just last year, but that has seemingly been put to rest.
Evidently, the Raiders will give Bergstrom every opportunity to win a job at the position they had originally drafted him to play, as they undoubtedly should.
If he can do just that, effectively transitioning to the man/gap-blocking scheme with the rest of the unit, the Raiders will be getting some good value with what was their first draft selection under the new management regime.
Having good attendance at OTAs, and especially those taking place in May, is likely to be nothing more than a side note in post-practice reports.
At the same time, it can only be a positive start to what will be an extremely important series of offseason workouts and programs for a rebuilding franchise.
With teams across the NFL, there are a number of players who take the “voluntary” workouts as just that. Most times, attendance will be good, but notably short of full.
For the entire Raiders roster to be in attendance, other than two undrafted rookies whose respective classes had yet to graduate, it speaks volumes about the atmosphere created by the new regime.
Both Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen have consistently alluded to their desire to put together a roster of players who love football, want to be Raiders and will compete. They may very well have all of the above in this roster, and the attendance numbers at OTAs reflect that.
The Return of Charles Woodson
While it was not part of the on-field workouts at the team’s first OTAs of the offseason, the free-agent signing of Charles Woodson was easily the biggest Raiders news of the week.
Returning to the silver and black is certainly seen as a homecoming for Woodson, and Raiders fans did well to show their support at the team’s facility during his visit.
Not only is there that sentimental value in Woodson’s addition, but of course, the value he brings on the football field as well. At 36 years old, he is nearing the end of his playing career, but is still more than capable of playing at a high level.
Likely to see most of his time at safety, he and Tyvon Branch will form an impressive tandem and will be relatively interchangeable at both free safety and strong safety.
Woodson also brings a level of leadership and experience that will be extremely helpful to a young, rebuilding team like the Raiders and can be especially beneficial to young players in the secondary like D.J. Hayden.
Overall, the signing of Woodson presents an exciting time for the Raiders and their fans, as he has many ways to make a significant impact on this team moving forward.
Dan Wilkins is an Oakland Raiders Featured Columnist. You can follow him on Twitter here.
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