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Oakland Raiders: S&BP Raiders 2008 Player Achievement Awards - Part II: Most Improved Player

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With the votes in and the community of Silver and Black Pride having spoken, 38% of you voted, the S&BP Raiders Rookie of the Year:Darren McFadden.

We now move on to the next category which is The Most Improved Player. For this vote, the choice will be the most subjective as not only pure stats will apply, but also development, progress and impact to the team of the player from the 2007 season to 2008.

Your candidates are:

1. JaMarcus Russell:

2-2_mediumThough JaMarcus did not play much during the 2007 season he showed flashes of his vast potential at the same time displaying what one would expect from inexperienced rookie QB. Russell ended up with a QB rating of 55.9 for the 2007 season. In 2008, Russell started 15 games and while he struggled in some, was merely efficient in others, the last two games of the season JaMarcus demonstrated all the things you would like to expect from your franchise QB. Pocket presence, decision making, arm strength and poise. Russell ended 2008 with a QB rating of 77.1

2. Robert Gallery:

76_mediumAfter a disastrous 2006 season playing left tackle for Art Shell, Gallery was moved to right guard in 2007. At that time Gallery was already being labeled a bust by many and the move to right guard salvaged his career. While Gallery was not great in 2007, (he had numerous drive killing false starts or holding penalties), he definitely found his home on the offensive line. The 2008 season showed great progress for Gallery as he was a beast in run blocking in Tom Cable's ZBS. Gallery also dramatically reduced his penalties and played to a level that many scouts considered Pro Bowl level.

3. Johnnie Lee Higgins:

15-2_mediumJohnnie Lee Higgins or JLH as he is known around these parts, entered the 2007 season with high expectations as both a receiver kick returner. For JLH, it quickly became known that he had to play with confidence and unfortunately for JLH 2007 was a disaster. JLH was a non-factor as a wide receiver in 2007 and his return game saw him make multiple poor decisions and a propensity to cough up the ball. JLH fumbled the ball away 5 times 2007. The 2008 seasson started out with JLH handling both punt and kickoff return duties and early on with his lack of confidence playing a factor he was replaced in both areas for a short span. Later JLH was got his job back as a punt returner and he became a star averaging more than 13 yards a return and taking three to the house while reducing his fumbles lost to just one. JLH and JaMarcus also started to click and Johnnie became the Raiders leading wide receiver in 2008 with 22 receptions for 366 yards and 4 TD's.

2. Chris Johnson:

37_mediumChris Johnson was a waiver wire pick up before the 2007 season and was thought of as nothing more than 4th or 5th DB on the depth chart. In 2007 CJ didn't play much accounting for only 13 tackles and zero interceptions. CJ also only had two passes defended and was burned more than a few times. However, in 2008, when CJ replaced DeAngelo Hall midway through the season he came to play and made the most of his opportunities. With no QB in the league throwing the ball anywhere near Nnamdi, CJ was the recipient of a lot of attention from opposing QB's. CJ ended 2008 with 35 tackles, 12 passes defended and 3 interceptions and is now entrenched as the starting corner opposite Nnamdi.

Silver and Black Pride community it's time to vote for your 2008 Most Improved Player.