Working into the wee hours to get this week's mailbag sorted out. Neither rain, nor sleet, nor exhaustion can keep me from my appointed rounds. Check your box because you've got mail.
Chris in Atlanta writes: Was wondering - are there any injury updates especially for the rookies DJ Hayden and Latavius Murray? I am worried. Don't like the injury bug hitting so early.
First off, I understand your concern due to the Raiders history with losing a lot of players to injury in the off-season, but there is no reason to be overly worried now. DJ Hayden's recovery is not from the injury - he recovered from that months ago. What he is recovering from now is the surgery to remove scar tissue from his abdomen which had built up from his previous surgery. Now it's just recovery time from the surgery. Murray's injury is said to be minor. Most of the injuries in minicamp are not serious. Many of the players are held out as a precaution. Others such as Miles Burris (knee) and Josh Cribbs (knee) are also simply recovering from off-season surgery. All players are expected to be ready to go for training camp.
Jason in Sioux City Iowa writes: How has WR Sam McGuffie looked so far with the Raiders? Does he have a shot at making the team?
He has had some good moments. He has sure hands and is very quick. He is currently running with the fourth team and is Matt McGloin's favorite target. He is real longshot to make the team, though. Not because he hasn't played well but because there are just so many receivers ahead of him. Denarius Moore, Rod Streater, Jacoby Ford, Juron Criner, Josh Cribbs, and Brice Butler all have very good chances of making the team. That is six players. There would have to be a major injury or the team would have to keep at least seven receivers for McGuffie to have a chance to make the squad and currently there are several receivers ahead of him on the depth chart also vying for that same slim chance. McGuffie best hope could be to show enough potential to be signed to the practice squad.
Eli writes: I just read that the Green Bay Packers are close to cutting LB Desmond Bishop. Although we're deep at linebacker, do you see Oakland possibly going after him, with the McKenzie ties and him being a Bay Area native?
I could certainly see that signing. He has played inside linebacker for the Packers and the Raiders don't have a solid option behind Nick Roach in the middle. Currently they have Travis Goethel, who is currently and chronically injured, and UDFA rookie Billy Boyko as the depth. Bishop would be an upgrade to either of them and any linebacker in Green Bay we know has the Reggie McKenzie seal of approval. After all, he was a linebacker in his playing days so that's what he knows best. Add to it that Bishop is a Bay Area guy and he has the hearts of the fans as well. Now we wait to see if the Packers do indeed part ways with him. Until then, it's all a game of ‘what if?'.
Mark in Santa Barbara writes: I foresee an upgrade in the Raider's Secondary and Linebacker play this coming season. DL, for me , is the biggest Defensive question. On paper last years DL looked to be good but turned out horrible. Why was last year's DL play so poor?
The main problem last year was the health of Richard Seymour. Over the time Seymour has been in Oakland, the line lives and dies by his presence. When he was in the lineup and fully healthy, he commanded double teams all game long. That freed up the defensive end next to him - usually Matt Shaughnessy - and it also brought up the play of Tommy Kelly to his left. With him on bad knees the first half of the season before being out altogether, the line play suffered. You will also notice a couple games after he went out, Desmond Bryant started playing well and suddenly the Raiders had a top five defense over that final month. Bryant had 4.0 sacks in four games and Andre Carter was healthy again. That wasn't a coincidence. Defensive lines are only as strong as their weakest link.
Ted writes: Is the Injury history plus contract year for Darren McFadden the reason why Willis McGahee want to come to Oakland?
Moreso the injury history than the contract year but both play a hand in it. McGahee sees a chance to play in Oakland. First as McFadden's cohort and later as his injury replacement. McGahee also mentioned San Diego as a place he would like to go so it seems he is interested in playing for a division rival to have a chance to run on his old team twice next season or perhaps beyond that. He didn't mention Kansas City mainly because Jamaal Charles is there with rookie Knile Davis behind him. And really who would WANT to go to Kansas City when you could go to California?
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