Oakland Raider Training Camp Focus: The Receivers
Raider Nation is well aware of the of the upgrade at the quarterback position. The fleet of receivers should now get a chance to show who they are.
This group of receivers can run past the wind and wait for it at the finish line. They may even be able to a make a relay team that medals in the Olympics.
Hue Jackson is now in Raider Nation to bring in the vertical passing game. The Raider fleet can now team up with Jason Campbell's big arm to make this happen.
Much has been made of the improvement to the passing game already. It is no longer a comedy of errors and less balls hit the ground than last year.
Michael Huff said, " Before, the passing game wasn't up to par so seven on sevens we'd go out there and dominate. I won't say we got full of ourselves, but we thought we were better than we were. Then you get in the game and it's different"
Turn the page to check the progress of the receiving corps.
Would you look at that!
Darrius Heyward-Bey is catching the ball these days. He has followed up an improved mini-camp with an even more improved training camp so far. The man had more drops per practice last year than total drops in camp this year!
Heyward-Bey is making tough catches and going up to get it on fade routes. He's even started shakin' guys and making plays after the catch.
It will serve Campbell and the Raiders well if he can do this in ballgames. But so far, I can hear Allen Iverson say, "We talkin' about practice man!"
But he's putting in the work to make it happen when the season starts!
He can probably still hear Chris Carter say, "He cain't catch the bao! I don't even know if that's good grammar"
If he continues his improvement, he' will be scary!
Chaz Shilens is has been just as unreliable as he has been reliable since coming to Raider Nation.
What do I mean by that?
He even made Jamarcus Russell look good at the end of 2008. Schilens is a reliable weapon that can make the tough, third down catch when he plays.
Yeah, when he plays.
That's the unreliable part.
Shilens a has had two surgeries on the same foot in his two years in Raider Nation. That same foot gave him problems Saturday, scaring Raider Nation.
The good news is he was back in team drills the other day and looked good. The rest of the Raiders recognize his value to the Raider passing game.
Darrius Heyward-Bey said. "Me and Louis (Murphy) told Chaz (Schilens) we need him if we're going to be a good offense."
Jason Campbell and Raider Nation are praying.
Louis Murphy overcame a stretch of the drops last year to become a playmaker and the Raider's most productive wide out. He finished the season with 34 catches, for 521 yards, and four touchdowns.
Don't forget who his quarterback was for most of the year.
It was a year that included a Week 13 game winner in Pittsburgh. He also had a 75 yard touch down to tie the game. Murphy's totals for the game was four catches, for 128 yards, and two touchdowns.
Murphy's camp is starting slowly because he suffered a concussion a few days ago. But he came back yesterday and flew past Stanford Routt, catching a deep ball on him.
He looks to be back to his play-making self as of now. I'm actually more excited to see Murphy this season than I am to see Heyward-Bey.
One, is the progress I saw him make during the season during ballgames. Another, is Murphy has already proved to be a go-to guy in the clutch. He also appears to have the most game speed in the league.
I'm sure we'll get to look further into that this year.
Let's just hope that he stays healthy.
Nick Miller really showed off in the preseason for Raider Nation before getting injured. I am actually excited to what he can bring to the table this year.
Miller is a good route runner with good hands. He is also a returnman with great ability to run after the catch.
Does that sound Wes Welkerish to you?
Obviously Welker is more accomplished but their skill sets are similar. Miller is actually the faster man of the two.
However, Miller will have some difficulty getting on the field for the Raiders. Schilens, Heyward-Bey, and Murphy will lead the Raider Nation fleet.
Miller started camp slowly with some drops but he has come on to make some plays in camp.
If he and Shilens stays healthy, this will be a deep receiver corps.
Jacoby Ford is another one of those world class trackmen that Al Davis covets. I look for him to be on the team no matter what he does this year.
However, Ford has not looked bad at all. He did have the day where he dropped three passes in a row but he has come on to make plays since.
He especially stepped up his game during the time Shilens was out. He is already leaps and bounds ahead of where Heyward-Bey was last year.
He was also brought in to help the Raider return game after it fell off last year. I believe that is where he will help the Raiders the most this year.
However, you can look for him to run an occasional go route. He should especially be ready when the red phone rings.
Johnny Lee Higgins
Johnny Lee Higgins is very talented but he's shows up every now and again. He figures to be one of the seven receivers kept but you never know.
Higgins needs to pick it up and keep it up. He was already a part of the return game that finished at the bottom of the league last year so he could end up outta there if he doesn't bring something to the receiver corps.
It's not looking pretty for him at this time. He has been plagued by some drops, incorrect routes, and lining up wrong.
I love his talent but coaches do not like to keep taking out practice time to yell at the same guy.
Todd Watkins brings up the rear. I haven't seen where anyone is doing anything to make Watkins look in his rearview mirror.
He's actually having a pretty nice camp himself. Watkins actually made a nice catch to end the second session yesterday.
There's really no one else making any noise so far. I look for these seven guys to make up the Oakand Raider's fleet of receivers.
I hope you enjoyed the slide show.