Raiders training camp is upon us. So to send you in training camp fully prepared, we present our Raiders training camp preview. The rookies and quarterbacks reported to camp last Sunday. The veterans report tomorrow, July 30. Click here to see the entire training camp and preseason schedule along with key dates.
There is a new head coach in town. He is Jack Del Rio and he brings almost an entirely new staff along with him.
Heading up the offensive coaches is offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave. Other coaches include:
OL coach Mike Tice
QB coach Todd Downing
RB coach Bernie Parmalee
WR coach Rob Moore
TE coach Bobby Johnson
Quarterbacks: Derek Carr, Christian Ponder, Matt McGloin, Cody Fajardo
Position battle: Christian Ponder vs Matt McGloin
Ponder currently leads that battle and has the familiarity with Bill Musgrave giving him an advantage. But McGloin's worked his way up the depth chart before, so anything's possible.
Storyline: As the incumbent starter, the Raiders will be counting on Derek Carr to take a step forward in his progress after a rocky rookie season. He was thrown into service from day one on a team without a lot of great weapons. He has some weapons now and must take advantage of them.
Running backs: Latavius Murray, Roy Helu, Trent Richardson, Taiwan Jones, Michael Dyer, George Atkinson III
Full backs: Marcel Reece, Jamize Olawale
Position battle: Latavius Murray vs Trent Richardson
Murray took over the starting job late last season and jumpstarted the Raiders offense. He has been the number one running back the entire offseason, but nothing is guaranteed. The team took a chance on Trent Richardson after the former third overall pick had been cut by the Colts. He will have his chance to show some of the potential that had him drafted so high just three years ago.
Storylines: First and foremost, the story will be if Richardson can take advantage of his last, best hope of removing the looming ‘bust' label. Then there's the case of Michael Dyer who also saw his star fall after a brilliant freshman year at Auburn. It's two redemption stories worth watching to see how they play out. You can read more about Dyer's story here.
Wide receivers: Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Brice Butler, Kenbrell Thompkins, Seth Roberts, Josh Harper, Kris Durham, Trindon Holliday, Austin Willis, Milton Williams III
Position battle: Michael Crabtree vs Rod Streater
This time last year, Rod Streater was the team's top receiver. Since then, he was lost for the season with a broken foot and this offseason the Raiders signed Crabtree and drafted Amari Cooper. Cooper is the number one receiver as the fourth overall pick and thus far Crabtree has started opposite him. Streater originally fought his way from undrafted free agent to starter. Now he will battle Crabtree to try and get that starting job back.
Storyline: The Raiders have been without a number one receiver for quite some time. Cooper finally offers that as likely the best receiver the Raiders have drafted since Hall of Fame bound Tim Brown in 1988. Along with that, they have not had a lot of depth. Now they are looking at both and a 3-man race between Brice Butler, Andre Holmes, and Kenbrell Thompkins to take what is likely two roster spots.
Tight ends: Clive Walford, Lee Smith, Mychal Rivera, Brian Leonhardt, Gabe Holmes
Position battle: Clive Walford vs Mychal Rivera
This may not actually be much of a competition. They drafted Walford in the third round to be the team's starter, taking over for Rivera who started the past two seasons. What Rivera will set out to do is earn his fair share of the targets.
Storyline: Rivera's role will change this year. He will be deployed more as an H-back, which fits him well as a receiver. Though it means he will have to improve as a blocker. Also playing a similar role will be Marcel Reece who is technically a fullback, but has long served in a role similar to an H-back due to his receiving skills.
LT: Donald Penn, Khalif Barnes, Anthony Morris
RT: Menelik Watson, Austin Howard, Dan Kistler
Position battle: Menelik Watson vs Austin Howard
Entering his third year, Watson is trying to finally live up to the potential that had the Raiders make him their second round pick in the 2013 draft. He came in rather raw, having played just one season of division one football, then he was injured much of his rookie season. He will now compete against 2013 top free agent pickup Austin Howard. The former offensive tackle turned guard is now switching back to offensive tackle after not taking to the switch well last season. Howard began the offseason as the first team right tackle but Watson took over that spot for minicamp. We'll see what the depth chart looks like come training camp.
Storyline: Do the Raiders have two potential good options at right tackle or do they not have one at all? Neither Watson nor Howard at any point have shown the skills that would give them an edge and any outcome also presents bad news. If Watson doesn't win the job, he looks like a wasted draft pick. If Howard can't win it, the team will have to decide if they want to pay him the $6.4 million he is due this season to be a backup. With the $5.6 million in dead money he would leave behind, they may just have to bite the bullet.
LG: Gabe Jackson, Quinterrius Eatmon, Mitch Bell
C: Rodney Hudson, Lamar Mady, Tony Bergstrom
RG: J'Marcus Webb, Jon Feliciano,, Matt McCants
What condition Raiders center position is in
We rank the Raiders at the all-important center position. Is it Strong, Stable, Touch and go, Serious, or Critical?
Position battle: J'Marcus Webb vs Jon Feliciano
With Austin Howard moving to right tackle, the right guard spot is up in the air. The Raiders drafted Feliciano in the fourth round to compete for the job, but he has yet to take a first team snap. Early in the offseason it was Khalif Barnes getting first team work at right guard, but lately it has been Webb who is a former offensive tackle who was signed as a free agent this offseason. The team would like Feliciano to win the job just as former third round pick Gabe Jackson did at left guard last year. But as of yet, there's no way of knowing if he will.
Storyline: Coming in as the team's top free agent signing is Rodney Hudson. He replaces Stefen Wisniewski who started there the past three seasons. Hudson played at a Pro Bowl level last season, despite not being named to the team, and was rewarded by the Raiders who made him the highest paid center in the league (since surpassed). His presence should help the offensive line and the offense as a whole.