Oakland Raiders: Recapping the Latest Buzz Heading into Training Camp
The Oakland Raiders are coming off a productive offseason when they needed it the most.
This may be a slow time of year in regard to NFL news, but there are still some important things to consider as the team heads into training camp.
Whether it’s young players already making their presence felt or some insights into schematic changes we may see this year, everything can be important in the success of the team this season.
Here is a look at some of the latest buzz surrounding the Oakland Raiders heading into training camp.
Khalil Mack Already Impressing
All indications from offseason work thus far are that Khalil Mack has been everything the Raiders thought he would be when they selected him at fifth overall.
Veteran offensive tackle Donald Penn is one of several Raiders veterans who have already been impressed with him and what he seems to be capable of on the football field. Per NBCBayArea.com, Penn said:
I see signs. In between snaps, he's in Justin Tuck's ear. Khalil's a special athlete. I can tell from some of his moves and the way he can put his foot in the ground and change directions, for him to be doing that at defensive end, he moves like a defensive back. It's crazy for a guy that size to be doing that.
Of course, we haven’t even reached training camp yet, but the positive early reviews for a Raiders’ first-round pick make for a refreshing change from years past.
2013 first-rounder D.J. Hayden still has every opportunity to make good on his potential, but it has otherwise been a long time since the Raiders have had a high pick pan out.
Yes, it’s still very early, but Mack already making a positive impression bodes well for his chances of developing into the impact player the Raiders see him as and need him to be.
Derek Carr May Push Matt Schaub
With veteran quarterback Matt Schaub already in the fold, the initial assumption was that Derek Carr would sit and learn during his rookie season.
While that may still end up being the case, Carr’s performances in offseason work suggest that he could be further along in his development than the Raiders initially thought. He may end up pushing Schaub for the starting job.
As such, the quarterback spot should receive that much more attention throughout training camp and the preseason, as this position battle may be wide open.
No, the Raiders aren’t paying Schaub to be a backup, but if Carr clearly proves to be the better option, why keep him on the sideline?
Carr is the quarterback of the future, no doubt, but a strong preseason showing could make the future come a lot sooner than anticipated.
D.J. Hayden Is Expected to Be Ready for Training Camp
Injuries have been an issue for D.J. Hayden thus far in his career, not only keeping him on the sideline for a good portion of his rookie year but limiting his availability for crucial offseason work as well.
He suffered another injury earlier this offseason that saw him miss the most recent OTAs, but according to the Bay Area News Group’s Steve Corkran, Hayden is now recovered and expected to be ready for training camp.
This is positive news for both Hayden and the Raiders, as the reps he will get in training camp will be important for his development moving forward.
Again, the key for Hayden is staying healthy. There is plenty of time for him to develop into the shutdown cornerback he has the potential to be, but constantly missing time hinders that process.
He will have an opportunity to win one of the two starting cornerback jobs heading into the regular season, and his play will be key to the success of the secondary as a whole.
Raiders Plan on Run-Heavy Attack
In a recent interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Raiders veteran offensive tackle Donald Penn alluded to the offense’s plans of being a run-oriented attack this season.
For a number of reasons, such an offensive strategy makes a lot of sense for this team.
Whether it’s Matt Schaub or Derek Carr under center, the Raiders won’t want to constantly be putting the ball in the quarterback's hand and asking him to do too much.
Instead, with impressive depth in the backfield and now some imposing size up front, they should find comfort in relying on the rushing attack in an attempt to control the pace of the game.
Of course, this is the ideal scenario for every team, but the Raiders may now have the pieces in place to make it happen in 2014.
Defense Could Become More Hybrid in 2014
ESPN Raiders writer Paul Gutierrez suggests that the defense could feature more hybrid looks moving forward, and such a development makes sense with the new-look front seven.
Once a position of concern, the Raiders are now quite deep at linebacker. Key players like Khalil Mack and Sio Moore can rush the passer as well.
On the defensive line, most of the players have either played in a 3-4 in the past or have skill sets that seem best suited to it.
While the Raiders will likely continue with a 4-3 base front at least for the time being, the numerous additions and talent upgrades should allow head coach Dennis Allen and defensive coordinator Jason Tarver to employ their multiple-look scheme to the fullest.
Either way, this unit seems primed for a big improvement this season.