The Oakland Raiders have plenty of young players who need to step up if the team is planning to make the playoffs in 2011.
Darren McFadden is one of those young players who need to have a big year next season. McFadden had a breakout year in 2010 and now must build on that to help his team reach the playoffs.
The Raiders will need to get a big year from him to control the line of scrimmage and keep the secondary honest. He needs to show that last season wasn't a fluke and that Run DMC has finally arrived as an NFL Star.
Last season, McFadden enjoyed being healthy for most of the year, and his play showed why the Raiders made him the No. 4 draft pick in 2008.
Let's take a look at five other players who are under pressure to perform in 2011.
Darrius Heyward-Bey was the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NFL draft. He posses the Raider speed that Al Davis loves and has the right work ethic and attitude to be a solid player for the Raiders.
Heyward-Bey hasn't made much of an impact in his first two years, but he continues to get better every season. In 2011, DHB must have the best year of his young career to help the Raiders reach the playoffs.
His ability to stretch the defense and block in the running game has benefited Oakland on offense. Next season, he will have to do more with the ball in his hands.
DHB is more than capable of being the No. 1 receiver on the Raiders. It's just a matter of him performing on the field and avoiding the bust label.
When the Raiders drafted him, everyone knew it would take a couple of years to develop him into the number one guy. That time has come now for Heyward-Bey, and he shouldn't disappoint.
Rolando McClain was drafted No. 8 in the 2010 NFL draft by the Raiders. He had a respectable rookie year, but he will be asked to do a lot more in 2011.
He was third on the team in tackles with 85 behind Tyvon Branch and Michael Huff. Many believe that McClain has a bright future ahead of him because of his football IQ and his physical ability.
In 2011, he will have to make more big plays on defense if the Raiders plan on making a playoff run. He will be playing behind a dominant defensive line, and that should allow him to do more.
He has to be a playmaker for the Raiders Kirk Morrison always led the Raiders in tackles, but didn't make the big plays or impact that Oakland needed him to.
That is why McClain was drafted and having a major impact is what he needs to do in 2011.
General McClain must perform at a high level in 2011 to live up to his expectations.
Stanford Routt signed a three-year, $31.5 million contract this offseason and could be replacing Nnamdi Asomugha if he leaves the team.
Nothing says pressure like signing a big contact and possibly replacing the team's best player, but Routt is up for the challenge.
Routt will be tested a lot more than Asomugha in his first season as the No. 1 corner. Other teams will want to see what he can and cant' do.
Routt is not as big as Asomugha, but he is faster and quicker to the ball.
If the Raiders plan on playing man to man coverage most of the time Routt needs to be ready. 2011 needs to be a great year for Routt, and he has the ability to be a special player.
If Houston can double that production in 2011 the Raiders will find themselves in a great position as the season closes down.
The Raiders defensive line is solid from left to right. Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly are a nightmare pair in the middle and Matt Shaughnessy is the perfect guy to play opposite of Houston.
Houston is one of the most athletic players on the team, and he has a nasty side that should make the older generation Raider fans smile.
Playing alongside Seymour should help Houston on and off the field. Houston must do what he can to get to the quarterback and help stop the run on defense.
2011 is the year that will determine Jason Campbell's future as a Raider and an NFL player. Campbell possesses all the right tools to be an elite quarterback in the NFL but has not been put in the right situation.
He struggled in Washington but had to deal with a new offensive coordinator almost every year. Coming to Oakland and being paired with Hue Jackson was the best thing that could have happened to Campbell.
Now he will have to show that he is capable of leading a team to the playoffs. For the first time in his career Campbell feels he has the organization behind him. Confidence and preparation are key when it comes to being an NFL quarterback.
Campbell must lead his young offense and win games for Oakland. He has plenty of weapons around him, but the biggest question is his offensive line.
Playing in the same offense for the second year in a row should allow Campbell to have the best year of his career. If he can have a solid year the Raiders will win the AFC West.
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