The second piece in a series aimed at fighting off football withdrawals.
By all accounts, the starting linebackers are going to look as different this year as that reality TV actress Heidi Monfag before she popped up on my internet browser every day. It doesn't stop at the big money boob job either, the entire unit got a face-lift and botox.
Last year the Raiders kept 6, but as Scott spent more time at LB than DE, it was actually 7. They had 7 on the roster in '08. Does this mean they'll go with 7 this year? No. I don't even think the Raiders know that yet. They may decide to go with 8 as cuts here could get tough. If they keep 8, I imagine it will be based on the fact that the last LB looked better on special teams then the last DB.
After all, if the last LB or DB on the roster is playing defense in the regular season than the poop has struck the wind making device.
As it is now, these guys are first team and locks: McClain, Scott and Wimbley
These guys are close to locks: Howard, Groves and Brown. They are going to need Howard's pass coverage skills and he very well may end up starting. Personally, I am a little skeptical that Wimbley and Scott can both start. They are going to need Brown, because he is the only LB in camp that has actually spent any time at MLB in the NFL.
The long shots: David Nixon and Slade Norris. Nixon and Norris both saw limited action with the Raiders last year, but with the added depth, Lindsey Lohan has a better chance of coming out with another Disney movie than these guys do of making the team.
Sam Williams is actually the longest tenured non-kicking player on the team. Unfortunately for him, this likely means he'll be the one going. He made a solid contribution on special teams last year and he has plenty of game experience, but the Raiders have brought in younger and more versatile players.
Isaiah Ekejiuba, "The Nigerian Nightmare" was the leader on the kick coverage unit last year. He is young, cheap and hard working.
Travis Goethel will get every chance to make this team. He is a high character guy that could be a force on special teams. He played all the LB spots in college and this combined with his special teams ability could very well earn him the spot on the roster that his natural physical ability wouldn't.
As I said, the last player here could actually be competing against a DB and while they may not make an impact on defense they will most certainly make an impact on special teams.