Oakland Raiders: 10 Concerns Going Into Training Camp
For Tom Cable, this has to be the time of the year that he stocks up on antacids and Pepto.
Because when it comes to the Raiders, this is the time he starts to play mix and match with the roster, trying to figure out which areas of concern are going to need the most attention.
Remember, these are not set to priority, but simply concerns that the team has to look at in the traning camp....a sneak preview, if you will. Enjoy!
For the Raiders, the biggest offseason move was the jettisoning of JaMarcus Russell and the trade for Jason Campbell.
On the one hand, anyone was an improvement. But is Campbell going to be the next Jim Plunkett for the Raiders?
Likewise, should anything happen to Oakland's new QB, will Bruce Gradkowski be ready (like last year) to jump in and take the reins again?
Wideouts and Routes
In Oakland, speed kills isn't just a fun phrase, but a way of life.
You could win a track meet with the players we presently have. But can they catch the ball?
This becomes a lingering question after last season's growing pains suffered by Darrius Heyward-Bey. Adding to this, Jacoby Ford, an "Al Davis" pick, was fast all right....but questions about his hands dropped him into the fourth round.
Tackle to Guard—Can Bruce Campbell Adapt?
We all know how well Michael Bush took to playing fullback in 2008, don't we?
He hated the idea like Marcus Allen liked being used only on goal line duty.
Bruce Campbell was brought in as a raw tackle, but was used in guard duty, primarily for the purpose of getting reps. But the question remains—will this be his spot for the forseeable future? Will he turn into another Robert Gallery?
The Running Game—Bush or McFadden?
With Michael Bush and Darren McFadden both vying for the money spot as starter, I imagine it is going to be a hard fight. But with that comes the worry....what if both go down hurt?
It was one concern I had when the Raiders dumped Justin Fargas, after his seasons in the sun for Oakland. Sure, we could always reel him back in, but it also begs the question...what if both RBs can't get it going?
We may have a couple fallback options...but excuses wear thin, now.
Chis Johnson....Stanford Routt....can we find a decent guy to pair up with Nnamdi Asomugha?
In the 80's, we had a great duo with Lester Hayes and Michael Haynes. But without a comparable corner to make bookends with, you can be sure that whoever the other starter turns out to be will see a lot of passes in his neck of the woods.
As good as Asomugha is he can't do it all on his own.
Stopping the Run
This is where Oakland tends to bleed itself dry in trying to find the solution. I
n the last five plus seasons, Oakland's opponents have had no problems running the ball, either at will or by finding just the right spot to break loose against us. Either way, it causes games to be lost late...or turns close games into blowouts.
Ugly. Will Oakland's draft picks of Rolando McClain and Lamarr Houston be a good step forward?
Rolando McClain—Can he replace Kirk Morrison?
The hard part about replacing a fan favorite, in this case a local player, is first of all proving that you are a better fit for the team.
With McClain, he does have the advantage of talent. but the hard part is winning over fickle fans who more than anything want wins.
While Morrion was beloved by Raiders fans, he had the problem of being smaller than larger linemen and then making tackles 3-5 yards downfield.
Sure he led the team in tackles. But tackling isn't the hard part, it's the stop at the line of scrimmage that was missing.
Hopefully, in the collection of movies McClain was given he was shown how Morrison failed at this...and can see how he can prevail.
Age....too young or too old?
For the Raiders, this is one area that we seemed to be blessed in. You can have a team full of grizzled veterans, like George Blanda, Vince Evans or Wade Wilson, or you have a roster like Jim Plunkett, Cliff Branch, Ted Hendricks and Ray Guy having fun.
Likewise, you might have youngsters likes Howie Long, Lester Hayes, or Vann McElroy making names for themselves.
Or, on the opposite side of the coin, you get a rookie like Marc Wilson, Todd Marinovich, or JaMarcus Russell. Or a 30-something who's numbers drop off a cliff.
Looking at the camp, can Tom Cable squeeze out that last drop of talent before discarding a player? Can he get the 110 percent that he demands out of each rookie?
The Injury Bug
This is a bug you can only hope never shows up.
Injuries can happen in a variety of ways, either from a player landing wrong, contact with another player, or a QB leaving a pass over the middle, and that sound of impact...you know the player is done for a couple of weeks.
It's always on the back of the mind. While you want a player to perform flawlessly, injury free is good too at this point.
It has been said that Oakland is it's own worst enemy when it comes to the media. Either slow to respond to a new allegation or deny everything, Oakland's rule of the day is "silence is golden."
Last years' media circus started with Tom Cable taking matters into his own hands with a disgruntled employee. Then when the news about a 20-year-old spousal issue surfaced, it didn't help the coach stay focused, no matter what he said.
Like injures, there's no way to train players to work against it....unless you teach them to ignore it.
Maybe Al Davis can teach the players to do this.