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Raider Rookie Joe Barksdale Needs to Focus on Making the Team, Not Starting

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Oakland Raider rookie Joe Barksdale was recently the subject of an article by Tom Markowski of the Detroit Free Press. One of the quotes that has been picked and republished by Raider oriented sites is "I expect to start right away." That is all well and good, but it doesn't tell us much. What else is he going to say?

Barksdale is used to starting, the Raiders do not have a right tackle under contract, and I wouldn't want a rookie coming in expecting anything less.

There is more to be gleaned from his other quotes. For starters, Barksdale seems like a good down to earth person. Barksdale:

I don't spend a lot of money. I never had a lot of money. Maybe five dollars in my pocket and that's it. You give someone who never had candy before some fat-free twizzlers and they're good.

I don't drink. I don't smoke. I need money for gas to see my girlfriend (in East Lansing). My hobbies are simple. I have an IPOD, a MacBook. The MacBook is starting to run my life. And I listen to music and play video games.

Jump over for what this means for his starting chaces....

He seems to have a good attitude on the lockout:

Nobody knows when it will end. All you can do is stay in shape. I take care of what I have control of. It's like the motto at my fraternity: "Do thy duty that is best and leave unto the Lord the rest."
All of these are admirable qualities. He seems like a guy that would make an excellent neighbor, and someone who would make a parent proud. However, Barksdale comes to the Raiders with questions of consistency in intensity, and some scouts said he seems to have a sense of entitlement. Barksdale displays those qualities in this seemingly innocent quote:

I do love football. I know it will be hard when it's over. When I'm done, I'll coach and take that money they give me to coach to charity. If you play 12 years, you won't need more money. I won't want to work a normal job when I'm done. No 9-to-5 for me. I'm going to ride this train until the tracks run out.

It's great that he loves football, but he is getting a little ahead of himself. Barksdale hasn't played a down of NFL football. He is going to have to bust his ass if he wants to make a life long career out of football. Barksdale needs to focus on making the team first. There are no guarantees in this league. If he approaches his NFL career like he is already good enough than I doubt he is willing to work with the intensity needed to start as a rookie in the NFL.

If he is going to start from day one in the NFL he is going to have to be hungry. He is going to have to train and practice as if every second his NFL career depends on it. Jump over for more....

These quotes are from giant red flags. It's not like he said he was too busy pounding purple drank to think about football, but it does show me what scouts were talking about when it comes to his complacency.

The good news is that when this lockout ends Barksdale is going to get an immediate crash course in the work it will take to make it in the NFL. He is going to spend a lot of practice time going head-to-head with Lamarr Houston. Houston has a knack for raising the intensity level of those around him. Last year, it seemed like Houston was getting into a daily fights with offensive linemen during training camp.

In the end, I hope that he can start from day one. He has the big time college experience that should make for a smaller transition time. However, I think it is going to take a at least part of his rookie season before Barksdale has a feel for the intensity it takes to play in the NFL. He seems like the kind of guy that will need to have someone light that fire. 

This is part of the reason why I have been so adamant that the Raiders need to sign a right tackle with experience. They need the insurance policy to Barksdale learning curve.