Oakland Raiders 2014 Training Camp: Week 2 Stock Report
The Oakland Raiders have completed two weeks of camp. More importantly, the team has played its first preseason game, providing the first glimpse of what this version of the Raiders actually looks like.
There were several players in camp, such as T.J. Carrie, Khalil Mack and Derek Carr, that had the coaching staff excited. But this was in practice, and no matter how intense a practice may be, there's no way to truly simulate live-game action.
The Raiders also made several key additions, and this would be the first real opportunity to prove that the infusion of experience and talent that looked so good on paper could also produce results on the field.
This week provided the first opportunity for the players to show that they could follow through on the promising performances they exhibited in camp.
The Raiders still have a lot of time before the start of the regular season, which means that there are still plenty of opportunities to improve on the generally disappointing performance they had against the Minnesota Vikings.
However, there was still plenty to be learned about certain players.
Some improved their stock by showing that they can perform at the same level against live competition as they have in practice, an encouraging sign for the coaches.
But others saw their stock drop as they struggled and showed that they have plenty of work to do if they want to see the field once the regular season begins.
The coaches have some important decisions to make regarding the roster and playing time. Fortunately, there's now more information to help them make the best decisions for the team.
Stock Up: T.J. Carrie, Cornerback
T.J. Carrie had been one of the darlings of Raiders training camp. Almost every day, there were reports of Carrie doing something positive. But would he be able to perform as well in a game?
Carrie proved against the Minnesota Vikings that he's the real deal.
He had four tackles against Minnesota, and the San Francisco Gate's Vic Tafur reports that head coach Dennis Allen was impressed with Carrie's performance.
Tafur also notes that Carrie "has jumped to fourth on the Raiders' depth chart at cornerback, is one of the team's three punt-return candidates and he could be a gunner on punt coverage."
That's an impressive early resume for a rookie seventh-round pick.
No matter where the coaches plug him in, Carrie performs well. The Raiders are thin at cornerback and unsettled in the return game. As long Carrie continues to play at this level, he'll continue to get reps and continue to have opportunities to earn more playing time.
For now, Carrie is looking more and more like he will be a major factor for Oakland in 2014.
Stock Down: Matt Schaub, Quarterback
Following Friday's preseason opener, Matt Schaub was the first to admit that his performance didn't live up to anyone's expectations, including his own.
The Manteca Bulletin quotes Schaub as saying, "We went out and we didn’t play near to expectations or our standard and we need to go back and figure out how to play that way next week."
Schaub's play could best be described as disappointing. Oakland went three-and-out on all three series with him under center, and he had a mere 21 passing yards while completing only three of his seven passes en route to a mediocre 50.3 quarterback rating.
No one thought that Schaub would come in and perform at the level of the NFL's elite quarterbacks—despite what Dennis Allen said—but he was expected to play better than what he showed against the Vikings.
Oakland was looking for consistent production at the quarterback position when they traded for Schaub. He was supposed to provide the mature, experienced leadership that this Oakland offense needed to allow all of the young talent on the roster to flourish.
That is what he'd exhibited in camp, but none of that showed up on game day.
For now, the coaching staff is doing the right thing and not panicking. Per NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal, Schaub will continue to get all of the first-team reps, and CSN Bay Area's Scott Bair reports that the Raiders plan to keep Derek Carr exclusively with the second team.
This is what the depth chart looked like during camp, and that will remain unchanged after one performance. This is a great vote of confidence for Schaub, but he'll need to do a lot better moving forward. This will be the only way to keep the critics at bay.
However, if his performance doesn't improve dramatically, his security as the starting quarterback will quickly fade.
Stock Up: Latavius Murray, Running Back
Entering the 2013 season, one of the most intriguing rookies in Raiders camp was 6'3", 225-pound Latavius Murray. Along with his impressive 4.38-second time in the 40-yard dash, he had the size and skill to challenge for major playing time behind Darren McFadden.
Unfortunately, an ankle injury ended his season after only one preseason game.
Per CBS Los Angeles, Murray used this time off the field to gain a better understanding of the playbook and learn how to make the best use of team meetings. The year wasn't a total loss, but the true measure of his success can only be determined on the field.
Following two surgeries to repair the injury, Murray is healthy this offseason, and the difference has been noticeable. Per CSN Bay Area's Scott Bair, Greg Olson has been impressed by how much better Murray has looked.
Murray showed signs of his potential against Minnesota as he rushed for 28 yards on seven carries, the most impressive stats of any Raiders running back. He also added two receptions for 13 yards.
Although it was a limited sample, Murray showed the power, speed and decisiveness Oakland thought they were getting when they drafted him last year.
Despite his potential, Murray finds himself in a tough position as he's fighting for playing time in a depth chart that's already set.
It's understood that the top two running backs on the team are McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew, and they're going to get the vast majority of the carries.
However, both of these players have battled injuries, so history suggests that Murray will get a chance to perform at some point this season.
The coaching staff will find ways to get Murray touches as long as he continues to perform at this level. He can't control the depth chart, but he can continue to impress and earn playing time.
So far, he's done his part.
Stock Down: David Ausberry, Tight End
Another year, another injury to David Ausberry.
All through training camp, Ausberry had been running with the first team, and it had become clear that the starting job was his to keep. Unfortunately, before Oakland's preseason opener, he went down with a knee injury.
Per USA Today, the injury required surgery, forcing him to miss the game against Minnesota.
The San Francisco Gate's Vic Tafur notes that the Raiders now have Mychal Rivera as the top tight end on the roster, followed by Nick Kasa and Brian Leonhardt.
Gutierrez quotes head coach Dennis Allen as saying, "We should be able to get [Ausberry] back at some point and time. I don't know how long that is going to be. We'll have to evaluate that as we go along."
For now, it seems the coaching staff has made peace with the fact that Ausberry just isn't going to be around, and they're comfortable going with the other tight ends on the roster.
It's becoming a sad reality for the Raiders that Ausberry is never going to be the weapon at tight end they hope he'll be. He has the talent to be an exceptional tight end in the NFL, but that doesn't matter if he can't stay on the field.
Ausberry is becoming a nonentity in Oakland. He'll remain that way until he's able to stay healthy and prove he can be depended on.
Stock Up: Shelby Harris, Defensive End
The San Francisco Gate's Vic Tafur reported that Shelby Harris "is seen strictly as a pass-rushing end with the Raiders," and it seemed like it would be difficult for a seventh-round pick with a perceived specialized skill set to get on the field and make an impact.
Of course, if he could be effective in that specialized role, Oakland would find a way to use him.
Tafur notes that Harris received some playing time with the first team leading up to the first preseason game, and he displayed that pass-rushing ability by picking up a sack. This was only in practice, but it was an encouraging sign.
The only thing left to see was whether or not he could have the same success against a different team.
Although he didn't play every snap, Harris still finished the game with two tackles and a sack. These stats may not seem like much, but it needs to be noted that Harris is seen as a pass-rushing specialist.
This means that he's strictly supposed to get after the quarterback at this point, and he proved that he could.
It might only be a limited role, but it's the one the coaches have given him and he went out and did it well.
Stock Down: Derek Carr, Quarterback
Almost immediately after the Raiders selected Derek Carr in this year's draft, the speculation began about not if, but when, he would be the Raiders starting quarterback. Could it be as soon as this year?
After Schaub's underwhelming performance against Minnesota, the scene was set for Carr to really make a case for the starting job.
Instead, Carr looked more like, well, a rookie.
Carr didn't have a terrible performance, but it wasn't impressive either. He did complete 10 of 16 passes, but he averaged only 4.6 yards per attempt and threw an interception on the way to finishing the game with a quarterback rating of only 47.4.
Per CSN Bay Area's Scott Bair, as far as head coach Dennis Allen is concerned, there's no reason to make any change to the quarterback depth chart:
It’s not really part of the plan right now. We’ll evaluate everything as we move along, but the plan is to work Matt Schaub as the starting quarterback. I think he’s done a good job of doing that.
It would have taken something special for Carr to surpass Schaub after just one preseason game, but he certainly could've made a stronger case and given the coaches more to think about.
Per ESPN's Paul Gutierrez, Carr felt perfectly comfortable in his first NFL action. This is a good sign, as this confidence will slowly begin to reflect in his play.
But for now, he still looks like a rookie who needs more time.
Stock Up: Sio Moore, Linebacker
One of the most hotly contested position battles in Oakland's training camp has been at weak-side linebacker. Sio Moore and Miles Burris have both played well in camp, and their performances in the preseason will likely be the deciding factor in this competition.
Moore was the early favorite given his performance last year as a rookie, but that was at strong-side linebacker. That spot has now gone to Khalil Mack, so Moore has had to deal with adjusting to a new position.
As for Burris, CSN Bay Area's Scott Bair reports that he has really impressed this offseason, making a strong case for the starting role.
After the preseason opener versus the Vikings, Moore has really established himself as the man to beat.
Just Blog Baby's Chase Ruttig notes that Moore was one of the most impressive linebackers in the game, finishing with two tackles and a sack.
As a rookie in 2013, Moore showed an ability to consistently be near the ball and always threaten to make a big play. This same ability was on display against Minnesota.
While the competition has been close, and Burris certainly has played well in camp, Moore has always been the favorite. The only real concern was how quickly he would be able to make the adjustment to his new position.
He's now proved that the transition is going to a very quick and smooth one.
Stock Down: Khalil Mack, Linebacker
Everyone, from the coaches to the players to the fans, was excited to see how Khalil Mack would perform in his first NFL game.
The reviews from training camp have been positive, raving about his quickness, toughness and defensive instincts. All that was left was to see was how good he would look against opposing offenses.
Unfortunately, Mack's first live action didn't live up to the hype.
ESPN's Paul Gutierrez writes that Mack "had a tough time reacting to the ball in the Raiders' preseason opener at Minnesota." All of the positives we'd heard about during camp didn't successfully transfer to the field.
However, as Merril Hoge noted, there were some positives in Mack's debut. In fact, Hoge was quite impressed with what he saw:
I have no doubt [Mack] will eventually be a dominant football player...First play of the game, Mack threw Vikings left tackle Phil Loadholt (6’8 & 343 pounds) around like a rag doll because he has such great football skills. Mack is a rookie and he knew not to drop into coverage when the Vikings were running the ball nor did he stand around once someone started blocking him.
While the debut might not have lived up to the hype, Gutierrez notes that Mack continued to impress in practice, saying, "The most eye-opening play [of day 13 of camp]? That would be rookie linebacker Khalil Mack... showing quick-twitch skills in breaking up a pass to fullback Marcel Reece in the flat."
This is a good sign, but it won't mean anything until he can make these plays on game day.
This was Mack's first real test, and it's understood that, as a rookie, there are going to be some growing pains as he adjusts to the speed of the NFL game.
But Mack faces even more pressure because the Raiders are depending on him to have a major impact and be a defensive leader this season. They can't afford for him to just be good. They need him to be a game-changer.
Mack didn't play all three downs while he was in the game, so his snaps were limited, but he is expected to be a three-down linebacker. With the increase in playing time, he needs to prove that he is the game-changer everyone expects him to be.
Stock Up: Denarius Moore, Wide Receiver
Heading into Oakland's first preseason game, no wide receiver on the team was in as precarious a position as Denarius Moore, but no one knew just how far he had fallen.
ESPN's Paul Gutierrez reported that not only was Moore fighting for playing time against Rod Streater, Andre Holmes and new arrival James Jones, he was actually fighting for a roster spot.
Having struggled to find consistency since his rookie year, Moore found himself fighting for playing time heading into the first preseason game of 2014, but Gutierrez's report showed the true severity of the situation.
Despite all of the questions that have followed him regarding his inconsistency, Moore showed that he's still one of the Raiders' top wide receivers.
Oakland's offense was disappointing in the team's first preseason game, but Moore was one of the few bright spots, finishing with three catches on three targets for 28 yards.
All of Moore's receptions came on passes from Derek Carr, meaning he saw no first-team action. However, he did exhibit something important: the ability to get open and hold on to the ball.
Inside Bay Area's Jerry McDonald notes that Moore's performance looked even better when you consider the problem with drops the team exhibited as a whole.
Moore's reliability, combined with the lack of production from other receivers, could lead to him making his way back to the top of the wide receiver depth chart.
The biggest concerns regarding Moore have been about his work ethic and consistency. At least for one game, he showed that he's still a top option for the team.
Unless otherwise noted, all stats taken from ESPN.com.