- Paul Gutierrez, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Examining the Oakland Raiders' roster:
Yes, Schaub was acquired to be the franchise quarterback, no ifs, ands or buts about about it. And still ... if Carr, who was elevated to second string in organized team activities, challenges Schaub, let alone replaces him, that is bad news for coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie, who would have missed on yet another quarterback decision. The irony would be in Carr shining and thus potentially saving Allen and McKenzie. Stay tuned.
RUNNING BACKS (4)
McFadden and Jones-Drew have no doubt seen better days, but the plan is to keep each healthy by spelling the other. Yet the two need reps to get going. Murray is enticing after missing his rookie season with injury, and Atkinson is a legacy in silver-and-blackdom who would make his bones returning kickoffs. CFL Grey Cup MVP Kory Sheets might be the odd man out.
Reece’s versatility has paid off with a pair of Pro Bowl appearances even if, critics point out, he is underused in the offense and not a great blocker. Good things usually happen, though, when the ball is in his hands. Olawale is surprisingly fast for a fullback.
No, the Raiders do not have that prototypical No. 1 receiver (Jones would seem to be the best fit), nor do they have a slot man (Moore?). What they have is a group of young, hungry pass-catchers with similar skill sets. Streater looks ready to take that next step and Criner showed flashes of his old motivated rookie-camp self in offseason workouts.
TIGHT ENDS (2)
To quote Jimi Hendrix: "Are you experienced?" To answer for this group: No. Much is expected of Ausberry, who missed last season with a shoulder injury, and Rivera surprised as a rookie. It would not be shocking to see the Raiders add a vet here at the end of camp.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)
A rebuilt offensive line -- Wisniewski at center would be the lone returning starter -- promises to be a physical unit, even with a rookie at left guard (Jackson) and a second-year player at right tackle (Watson). In fact, a line of Penn, Jackson, Wisniewski, Howard and Watson would average 6-foot-4, 326 pounds.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)
Tuck and Woodley bring experience and Super Bowl rings, even as Woodley is making the conversion from 3-4 outside linebacker to 4-3 defensive end, which he last played in college. Smith did not practice at all in the offseason while recovering from a procedure following a weight room mishap and Ellis, the Raiders' first fourth-round draft pick, is the most intriguing interior prospect.
The arrival of Mack as the No. 5 overall pick moved Moore from strongside linebacker to the weak side, and has purportedly made injured and expensive veteran Kevin Burnett expendable. Burris was seeing first-team reps at Will linebacker in the final OTA session and Maiava is hoping to bounce back from an injury-plagued season. Kaelin Burnett's play on special teams might save his roster spot.
That’s a big question mark, rather than a dark cloud, over the head of Hayden, who missed the last two OTA sessions and minicamp with an ankle injury and thus, fell behind in his development. Again. The Raiders do have big plans for last year’s top draft pick. Rogers figures to be the slot cornerback while McGill, a fourth-rounder, is a big-bodied corner and Jones’ standing as a gunner on special teams belies his improvement at corner.
Woodson played just one full game with Branch, who was lost for the season with a broken leg in Week 2, so it will be interesting to see how they co-exist. Dowling and Carrie were revelations in minicamp, with Carrie primed to make his mark as the punt returner. Ross, thrust into action because of Branch’s injury last season, will be pushed by Usama Young.
Surely Janikowski’s issues with King as his first-year holder last season are a thing of the past, right?
7hEric D. Williams
5dEric D. Williams
7dEric D. Williams