How bad do you want to make the team?
A lot of different things go on at an NFL training camp. Newly acquired veterans try to learn a new system, retuning players knock the rust off, and rookies try to prove their mettle. All of this happens under the watchful eyes of the media and fans alike.
With several players still recovering from injuries sustained last season, many borderline players have been given a long look in camp this year.
With Chaz Schilens nursing a foot injury and Louis Murphy dealing with a concussion issue, Paul Hubbard and Shaun Bodiford have been getting more reps than usual. This is a great opportunity for these two.
So far, they haven't taken advantage.
Dropped passes, missed assignments, and bad reads seem to be commonplace for these young men trying to make the team.
To quote Jerry McDonald in his daily Twitter updates from Raiders camp: "Boller finds Bodiford open 50 yds downfield at goal line on post vs. Mitchell. He can't hold it. Bubble players need to make those plays."
It's just more of the same for Hubbard. He doesn't seem to be making much of an impression. If either of these young wide receivers want to make the team, they had better pick it up, and soon.
On the flip side, sometimes bubble players take advantage of their opportunity to shine. Such is the case with cornerback Joey Thomas and wide receiver Nick Miller.
Miller is the pint-sized return specialist that showed flashes of greatness in the 2009 preseason, only to have his hopes of making an impact dashed by a stress fracture.
This type of injury is notoriously difficult to return from, but Miller is making great progress. Quoting Vittorio Tafur's Twitter page: "Nick Miller nice catch across middle for six - he's had a nice couple of days."
This just goes to show, if you don't take advantage of every opportunity, someone else will. Miller has worked hard and is recovering nicely. So far, he is giving Bodiford and Hubbard reason to worry.
If Miller can remain healthy, he could give those other receivers a reason to look for work elsewhere.
Joey Thomas is a fifth-year cornerback from Montana State that has bounced around a bit in his NFL career. He played in Green Bay and New Orleans before coming to Oakland.
Again quoting Tafur's Twitter update: "Joey Thomas makes great break to bat away deep Boller pass." This isn't the only time Thomas' name has been mentioned in a positive way, it's just the most recent.
This is great news for the Raiders, as there is no such thing as too much depth in the secondary. Thomas' size (6'1", 195 pounds) is excellent for covering the bigger receivers in the AFC.
If Thomas can continue to grow and learn, he could be a nice addition to the Raiders' secondary. I would advise him to just keep doing what he's doing.
Finally, having these borderline players in camp creates competition throughout the roster. Competition between players makes all of them better. When you can get better at each position individually, the team gets better as a whole.
I'll be watching these players in the coming weeks. I'll also be looking for other bubble players that are making an impact, or missing their opportunity.
So, Raider Nation, what other bubble players have you heard about? Who is making an unexpected impact? Who is not making the most of their shot at the pros? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments.
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