AFC West: Jack Grove

Raiders position battles

July, 26, 2008
7/26/08
10:40
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson

If the Raiders are to improve, they'll need some development on offense.

Running back: Darren McFadden vs. Justin Fargas vs. Michael Bush

The Raiders are taking the correct approach here. They are not looking at it as a battle at tailback. The team is looking at as if the three-headed monster of McFadden, Fargas and Bush is a wonderful bounty and a great opportunity. And they are right. If the Raiders are going to improve greatly, it will be because of this running back trio. But, in essence, it will be a battle because there's only one ball. Yes, all three backs will play, but someone will get the primary carries and it will be fun to watch how it is broken down. Of course, if McFadden explodes onto the scene like he's capable of, he'll get most of the carries and Fargas, who had a breakout season last year, will be in the background. Bush, finally healthy from a serious leg injury in college, has looked good in the offseason. Perhaps he'll find a role in short-yardage situations. Anyway, this is a great problem for Oakland to have.

Intensity index: Hot.

Center: Jack Grove vs. Chris Morris vs. John Wade

The Raiders success will hinge on the offensive line. There will be competition at right tackle between Cornell Green and Mario Henderson. But the problem competition is at center. Grove, Morris and Wade will fight for the job. Grove is a talented player but he has a history of knee injuries. Morris knows Oakland's zone blocking scheme well and Wade is an 11-season veteran who is a smart, savvy player. If Grove can stay healthy, he should win the job, but that may be too much to ask. This will be a battle to watch all of August.

Intensity index: Hot.

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