Oakland Raiders: First Impressions from Training Camp

Dan Wilkins@@DanWilkinsNFLCorrespondent IIJuly 29, 2014

Oakland Raiders: First Impressions from Training Camp

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    Eric Risberg/Associated Press

    The Oakland Raiders are now four days into their 2014 training camp and have thus begun an all-important season in the franchise’s rebuilding project.

    A productive offseason has likely raised expectations for this year’s team, but with upgraded talent across the board, they could certainly be up to the task.

    While there have only been a few practices to this point, there are already a number of key takeaways that could have significant impacts on how this season plays out overall.

    Here are some early impressions from the Raiders’ 2014 training camp.

Quarterback Position Much Improved

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The play of the Raiders’ quarterbacks will go a long way toward dictating the team’s overall success in 2014.

    As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Vic Tafur observes, this year’s group looks the part and is showing encouraging signs early on.

    While it remains to be seen just how well they will perform over the course of the season, the group is significantly improved over that of 2013, giving the offense plenty to build on moving forward.

    With more freedom at the line of scrimmage and a brand new offensive system to work with, expected starter Matt Schaub will have a great opportunity to bounce back from the difficult season he had with the Texans.

    Of course, Derek Carr will be waiting in the wings for his opportunity to eventually take over, and Schaub’s play will dictate just how soon the team needs that to be.

    Either way, with the addition of both players, the Raiders have done well to address the position both for the short and long term. As a result, the quarterback situation is in better shape than it has been in over a decade.

Read-Option Could Still Be Part of Offense

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Per ESPN’s Jim Trotter, the Raiders will consider keeping the read-option a part of their offensive playbook heading into this season, where they would use Darren McFadden as the quarterback.

    Given that the team was able to establish some success with the read-option last season, and that McFadden has plenty of experience in such a role dating back to his college days, the idea makes lot of sense.

    In McFadden, Maurice Jones-Drew and Marcel Reece, the Raiders’ backfield features three of the offense’s best playmakers overall.

    On occasion, why not get all three on the field and in position to carry the football at the same time?

    Although the running game should be a strength of the offense throughout the year either way, this added wrinkle could provide a critical boost when needed, allowing the unit’s best players to be involved on a more consistent basis.

WR Greg Little Could Be a Key Addition

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    Eric Risberg/Associated Press

    According to the Bay Area News Group’s Jerry McDonald, wide receiver Greg Little has been one of the more impressive players in Raiders training camp thus far.

    While his early performances may come as a surprise to some, Little has always had the physical talent to compete and produce at the NFL level.

    He struggled in Cleveland mostly due to issues with drops, but there is reason to believe that a fresh start in Oakland, with a better quarterback situation, could really help him reach his potential.

    Yes, it is quite early in the process, and making plays in games is certainly much different than doing so in initial training camp practices.

    However, Little will have a real chance to make this roster heading into the regular season, and his performances thus far go a long way toward showing the upside his physical abilities still give him as a player moving forward.

Depth Additions Likely Still to Come

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    Uncredited/Associated Press

    The Raiders roster is certainly much improved over that of 2013, but there is still work to be done by way of talent additions before the season gets underway.

    While he could very well be back and ready to go in the near future, injuries to players like D.J. Hayden show just how much depth remains a concern at certain areas on the roster.

    In addition to that cornerback spot, backup roles at safety and defensive end could certainly stand to be addressed when it comes time for final roster cuts around the league.

    Clearly, staying healthy will be a key for this team’s success throughout the 2014 season, but injuries are indeed inevitable over the course of the year.

    As such, the Raiders will need to be better prepared at some of the thinner spots on the roster, so we can expect the team to make several more signings later on in the preseason.