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Training camp: Veterans with the most to prove at each offensive position group

The next month will be crucial for these vets

Las Vegas Raiders Introduce Jimmy Garoppolo
Jimmy Garoppolo
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

It’s a big week for the Las Vegas Raiders as veterans report to training camp on Tuesday and the team is scheduled to have its first full practice on Wednesday. That means the 2023 season is officially underway and it’s crunch time for a few veterans on the roster.

Whether it’s rebounding from a tough year, earning a starting spot or a big contract in the offseason, there are plenty of Raiders who have something to prove from now until the end of August. Below is a look at the vets with the most on their plate at every offensive position group.

QB: Jimmy Garoppolo

While Jimmy Garoppolo walks into Las Vegas as the team’s starting quarterback after passing his physical and will likely be under center for Week 1, he still has a lot to prove.

Despite posting a good record with the San Francisco 49ers and helping them make three NFC Championship games, the 49ers spent the last few years trying to run Garoppolo out of town. Also, it had to be humbling when they attempted to trade him ahead of last season and couldn’t find a partner.

In a couple of weeks, Jimmy G will get his first chance at revenge (if he plays) as the Raiders host the 49ers in their first preseason game. That will be his first opportunity to show his former employer and the rest of the league what they’re missing.

In a similar vein, Garoppolo also has something to prove to the rest of his teammates during training camp. He missed all of the Raiders’ spring practices with a foot injury, so this next month-plus will be his first and only chance to win over the locker room before the games start counting.

RB: Zamir White

While Las Vegas would certainly rather have Josh Jacobs present during training camp, his absence does create a great opportunity for second-year running back Zamir White.

During the regular season last year, White hardly saw the field with just 17 carries and 40 offensive snaps in 14 games played. That little experience makes him a rookie again to a degree, so he could certainly benefit from some extra reps in camp.

Also, whether it’s for the starting or second-string spot, White enters a training camp battle with fellow 2022 draft pick Brittain Brown, and the latter out-performed the former in the preseason a year ago.

Brown led the team with 34 carries, 152 yards and 4.5 yards per rush last August, while White’s numbers were 25, 78 and 3.1, respectively. While both players scored two rushing touchdowns each, Brown forced double the amount of missed tackles as White did; 10 to five, per Pro Football Focus.

So, if last year’s fourth-round pick wants to win the job this time around, he’ll have to play with a chip on his shoulder over the next several weeks.

WR: Phillip Dorsett

Houston Texans v New York Giants
Phillip Dorsett
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

In 2021, Phillip Dorsett played for three different teams—the Seattle Seahawks, Jacksonville Jaguars and Houston Texans—before eventually sticking in Houston where caught 20 passes for 257 yards and one touchdown a year ago. Las Vegas will make it four cities in three years for the former first-round pick and that number could increase if he doesn’t have a strong showing in training camp.

Dorsett does bring a speed element to the Raiders’ receiving corps that it could certainly use. However, so does fellow free-agent signing DeAndre Carter and third-round pick Tre Tucker, meaning Dorsett will have some competition for the deep-threat role during camp.

Also, it’s been a while since the 30-year-old wideout has put together a productive campaign. In 2019, he logged nearly 400 receiving yards and had a career-high five touchdowns catches but hasn’t come close to those marks in the three seasons since then.

So, between fighting for a role on the team and proving that he still has something left in the tank, Dorsett has plenty to prove in late July and August.

TE: O.J. Howard

After the Raiders drafted and traded up for Michael Mayer in the second round, the focus of the team’s position battle at tight end shifted from the first-string to the second. The rookie is expected to start, leaving O.J. Howard and Austin Hooper to duke it out for backup duties, and an argument could be made either one should be included on this list.

The reason why Howard has a little more to prove than Hooper, though, is that Howard failed at securing this role last year with the Buffalo Bills. He was supposed to be Dawson Knox’s running mate but was cut at the end of camp and didn’t make the 53-man roster.

Howard eventually landed with the Texans where he made 10 starts last season. However, he logged fewer than 150 receiving yards for the third year in a row and participated in just over 300 snaps during the regular season. Meanwhile, Hooper didn’t have a great year by any means but still managed 444 receiving yards and received more playing time than Howard by over 200 reps.

So, while the two veterans both have something to prove over the next month-plus, the urgency for the former Texan feels higher.

OL: Netane Muti

Netane Muti has a wide range of outcomes with the Silver and Black this fall. He could easily win the team’s wide-open competition for a starting right guard, or he could get cut at the end of camp.

After being a sixth-round pick by the Denver Broncos in 2020, Muti bounced back and forth between the Bronco’s practice squad and active roster before the Raiders picked him up late last year. That has limited his playing time during the regular season as he’s only registered a little more than 450 snaps, and he might be running out of time.

The veteran is about to enter a pivotal fourth season which could be a tipping point in his career. He could cement himself as a starting-caliber player, or his NFL career could be on its last legs if he doesn’t prove himself and make the 53-man roster.