Training Camp Questions

With less than a week until Training Camp starts for our Raiders, there are plenty of questions that we have headinginto the season. Position battles, new coaches, new systems and schemes with some new personnel. Here are somo of themost intriguing questions that Raider Nation has for the following month:

Position Battles:

1. Left Guard: Tony Bergstrom vs Cooper Carlisle:

Bergstrom was the Raiders first pick in the draft with the 95th pick, and he looks like a promising prospect, but Carlisle is a 13 year veteran with experience in the ZBS (at the pro level). Carlisle may be known as a very average LG and below average by others, but I think experience will beat out the rookie in Training Camp. I do expect to see Bergstrom make some noise by mid-season when he starts getting more comfortable, but expect to see Carlisle starting at LG when we face the Chargers on MNF.

2. Backup RB: Mike Goodson vs Taiwan Jones (with a 3rd option, vs Cedric Benson):

This one will be a fun battle to watch during the pre-season, specially if we do end up signing Benson or someone else. Goodson comes from Carolina with not many stats but looked good when he was actually out there playing, Jones showed flashes of a very good change of pace back last year during pre-season. Jones got injured in the TNF game against the Chargers and missed the remainder of the season. Now, if we add another back it might even get more intense, because that 4th RB buried in the depth chart may not be anything more than a special teamer, so everyone is fighting for a chance to see the field as a RB.

3. Tight End: David Ausberry vs Brandon Myers:

We may be in trouble at this position if Ausberry doesnt beat out Myers. Myers is a serviceable TE but by no means is he a solid starter, and if Ausberry doesnt beat him out then we are definitely one of the weakest teams in the NFL at TE, if not the weakest. I do believe Ausberry will win the job by the end of training camp, he bulked up and is now at 265lbs of muscle, he has amazing potential as a receiving TE being a WR converted into TE. If he learns how to block and plays to full potential then we will have in my opinion a top 10 TE in the league.

4. Nickel Corner: Chimdi Chekwa vs DeMarcus Van Dyke:

By the end of Training Camp this could actually be a battle for the no.2 corner position, depending on how Shawntae Spencer does. Both Chekwa and Van Dyke have a high ceiling and showed it last year. Chekwa didnt have much opportunities but was decent when he was put in, and being a decent CB as a rookie is hard when you are drafted in the 3rd or 5th round. Van Dyke showed promise too but he struggled at facing the ball and making a play on the ball. Both should be a little more polished and experienced, and they have 2 veteran teammates that can help them with detail of the position. Van Dyke looks like he bulked up a little bit during the off-season too.

(There are some other position battles like Rigth Tackle, Backup QB, and Backup Safeties but to me the ones listed above are the most important position battles for this year.)

The question of personnel fitting the system:

Some are nervous about core players being able to fit the new schemes and how long will they take to transition into the new systems. Here are some players that you might be interested in:

Carson Palmer: One can argue that he could struggle with the West Coast Offense since the only type of offense he has ran in the NFL has been vertical attacks with both the Bengals and Raiders, and not being a mobile QB might sway people's opinions. To me the thing is, neither do McKenzie or Allen are going to bring in a coordinator that doesnt match his QB. Palmer won the Heisman back in 2003 with USC running a West Coast - like offense. They used bootlegs and play action. My other argument is that if Matt Schaub (who is arguably as mobile or even less mobile than Palmer) ran it pretty well in Houston, then Palmer can run it in Oakland. This will be very interesting to see, the last time we ran a West Coast Offense was back in the Gruden years when the Raiders had QB Rich Gannon, we'll see how this plays out.

Darren McFadden: DMC broke out in 2010, even while having an injury that sidelined him for 3 games he still managed to get over 1000 yards on the ground and over 500 yards receiving and a total of 10 TDs. Although people think it was Hue Jackson's power blocking scheme that made McFadden break out, it really wasnt. In McFadden's break out year Tom Cable was the Head Coach, and although Jackson was already our Offensive Coordinator Cable ran the offense too, he had a ZBS implemented, meaning McFadden broke out while using a ZBS. Now with a much improved line and more experience (while being only 25 years old) he should be able to play without a problem in the new scheme.

The entire defense: We saw a disaster last year on defense when Chuck Bresnahan was left alone with Al Davis gone, he tried to make the defense different from what Mr. Davis liked and we ended up paying for it. They just didnt seem fit to play simple zone D. They were a disaster delaying Safety blitzes that left us with a 2 man secondary, and we had our MLB covering top WRs in the game, 3 times. I look for this year's defense to tell the story on Michael Huff, Rolando McClain and Phillip Wheeler. These players have a chance in a defense that is supposedly designed to make ball-hawks stars, it is a bend but dont break kind of defense (from what I understand). The transition will probably last until the bye, but I still expect the defense not to be as bad as last year, they should be a below average defense while transitioning and then ana average defense by the time they gelled, unlike last years horrible defense all year round.

So that is it, those are the questions that in my opinion are the most frequently asked by Raider fans this offseason, everyone is excited for this new season regardless of the expectations, we are beginning a new era of Oakland Raiders football and the anticipation will make this remaining 6 days be like hell, I cant wait.