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Posted by ESPN.com's Bill Williamson
Three quick hits on the Oakland Raiders:
The quarterbacks: It's truly all about the quarterback in Oakland in 2009. It is the focal point of training camp and it will be the most watched position during the regular season. If the Raiders get decent quarterback play, they could be improved this season. The question is who will be the quarterback? The Raiders had better hope it's JaMarcus Russell. If the third-year player does not take the next step this season, his future in Oakland will be in jeopardy and the Raiders will take another step back. While backup Jeff Garcia may be a better short-term answer if Russell struggles, it won't help the future. Oakland needs Russell to succeed for the future.
Watch out for a young receiver... it just may not be the one Oakland paid to excel. Second-year receiver Chaz Schilens may be a diamond in the rough. He has had a strong training camp and looks primed to be a starter. He finished last season as a starter. Schilens, who was drafted in the seventh round out of San Diego State in 2008, looks primed for a big season. He is big and he's fast and the game doesn't seem to be too big for him. The Raiders really need a young receiver to emerge. The team drafted Darrius Heyward-Bey with the No. 7 pick this year and paid him more than $23 million in guaranteed money. Still, Heyward-Bey looks like he will need some time to develop, so Schilens may have to be the answer in 2009. It looks like he may be up to the task.
Competition on defense: There have been some surprises early in Oakland's camp. Ricky Brown is fighting Kirk Morrison for the starting job at middle linebacker and Stanford Routt is pushing Chris Johnson for the job at right cornerback. The Brown development is most surprising. Morrison has been a productive player for Oakland. I still think Brown will have to significantly outplay Morrison to win the job in the regular season. Johnson is a journeyman, who played well after Oakland cut bust DeAngelo Hall at midseason. Routt has long had potential. Perhaps he is finally realizing it.