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Showing posts from August, 2010

Injury Updates: Schilens, Bush & Campbell

Chaz Schilens will miss 3-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his knee. He is more than likely out for the opener and likely will also miss the first few weeks of the season. His injury history is now pages long and he can't stay healthy enough to stay on the field for more than a few games at a time.

Michael Bush will have a procedure on his left thumb. Tom Cable said he will not wear a cast, but will wear protection on the thumb. This is good news as it may have already been determined that he can play through the injury or wouldn't miss significant time.

Michael Bennett may have secured his spot on the roster with the injury to Bush and the injury history of Darren McFadden.

Jason Campbell is likely good for the season opener. The more severe injury sustained in Saturday nights game was not the stinger but the right wrist injury from the drive before. This likely isn't an issue, he came back into the game after the injury. The Raiders will be cautious, but I don't expe…

Post Game Wrap: Raiders Fall Late 28-24

We learned quite a bit about the 2010 Raiders in the third preseason game, often considered a regular season primer.

Although the Raiders lost the final score, the score when the bulk of the starters exited the game was 21-17 with the Raiders leading. Bruce Gradkowski played significant time with the starters taking over for Jason Campbell when he was knocked from the game with a stinger. The injury to Campbell is not considered serious.
Campbell was hit on the blindside by Travis LaBoy, who blew by left tackle Mario Henderson. 
Henderson continues to be a below average left tackle. If the Raiders had a legitimate alternative Henderson would be benched.
The only other option is rookie Jared Veldheer. Although Veldheer's talents may be put to better use as the center if Samson Satele misses significant time with an ankle injury.
Veldheer failed to diagnose an A gap blitz by Patrick Willis, but otherwise performed well.
Langston Walker has been inconsistent at right tackle in terms of pas…

Important Preseason Game?

In what is often a regular season preview, the Raiders will face their regional rival from across the bay.

When the Raiders and 49ers kickoff, their will be a few important things to watch.

Will Bruce Gradkowki be able to hold off Kyle Boller?

If he can't, he might become roster dead weight.

How will the Raiders offensive line block? Specifically, Mario Henderson and Jared Veldheer.

Can defense continue high level of play? Stanford Routt has a chance to grab a starting position with Chris Johnson out, will he grab the spot?




Gradkowski Falling, Boller Rising

Bruce Gradkowski can't seem to stay healthy. Among his ailments of the last two seasons are torn MCLs in both knees, a torn pectoral and sore groin.

Despite Gradkowski's extensive injury history he has started a few games and been moderately successful. The Raiders still brought in veteran help in Jason Campbell and Kyle Boller in the offseason.

It now appears Gradkowski could be looking up to both on the depth chart come September 12 in Tennessee.

It wasn't hard to imagine such a scenario given Gradkowski's injury history and the obvious match between Boller's skill set and the Raiders favored offensive scheme.

During mini-camp the Raiders quarterback spot was competition and it seemed the Raiders were content to wait for Gradkowski to rehab his pectoral.  That turned out not to be the case, training camp started and the starting quarterback was announced to be Jason Campbell.

Gradkowski never really had a shot to showcase he could be the starter and now training camp …

Schilens Has Surgery, McClain All Business

Receiver Chaz Schilens had arthroscopic knee surgery. The timetable for his return is not known at this point.

If Schilens isn't able to return by the start of the season, the starters would likely be Louis Murphy and Darrius Heyward-Bey.

Zach Miller could see an additional bump in targets if Schilens misses significant time. Fantasy sleeper alert, he could be a top five tight end.

Interesting reports that rookie linebacker Rolando McClain doesn't sign autographs or interact with the fans. He may not be the most outgoing of players. Chalk it up as McClain being all football, but it is interesting to note.

Raiders Getting Healthy, Sans Schilens

Tom Cable announced all the players that missed Saturday’s game in Chicago should be back to practice Tuesday except for wide receiver Chaz Schilens.

Schilens may have over compensated for his foot injury and may need a scope of his knee. If the scope is done this week, he could be back for the season opener, but don’t bet on Schilens at this point. His foot is also still sore 12 months after the injury first occurred.

The only notable injury was Samson Satele with an ankle injury. He will have an x-ray this afternoon to determine the severity.

This means Darrius Heyward-Bey is over a case of fatigue and Darren McFadden’s hamstring is good enough to at least go through some drills.

Richard Seymour and Nnamdi Asomugha will return from feeling…under the weather. A nice way of saying the Raiders didn’t want to risk its investments by putting them on the field in a game that didn’t mean anything.

Room For Improvement in Preseason Win

Wins are not usually important during the preseason. The goal is to evaluate the roster so the team can win during the regular season.

Fans shouldn't get too excited about preseason wins, no matter how impressive they might be. Remember the Raiders undefeated preseason and two win season under Art Shell? That will scare most fans straight.

Still, there was something different about the team that showed up Saturday night in Chicago to the teams of the past seven years.

The offense looked more composed and put together a few solid drives. The defensive front terrorized Jay Cutler without Richard Seymour.

There will always be areas to work on, but the Raiders at least get to enjoy a 2-0 record until they square off against the 49ers at the coliseum on Saturday.

The record at very least builds a young team's confidence. The Raiders will need it to put stuff Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson during back-to-back weeks to start the season.

The revamped run defense will be put to the test. V…

Watch The Passing Game

Preseason is not a time to worry about wins and losses. The coaches aren't worried about wins because too often a score is the result of little to no game planning.

The coaches will go back and evaluate every player in the film room, but only a few fans even watch a preseason game more than once.

Tom Cable has stated the offensive problems in last week's preseason game were minor things that can be tweaked.

That theory will be put to the test today in Chicago.

So what should the fans be looking for in the second preseason game of 2010?

Since this will be the first action of the season for Bruce Gradkowski, Jacoby Ford and Colt Brennan this will be the first chance the coaches and fans have to evaluate their performance and progression.

The poor showing from Jason Campbell and the receivers in last Thursday's preseason win over Dallas will likely bring a more critical eyes to both groups.

Darrius Heyward-Bey has missed nearly the entire week worth of practice due to fatigue. He ha…

2010 Contest: Offense YPG

Second annual regular season contest.

Predict the total yards per game of offense for the Oakland Raiders during the 2010 regular season.


Example:

In 2009, the Raiders had 266.1 yards per game (ypg). This was 31st in the league.

Worst Team: 260.2 ypg (Browns)
Best Team: 403.8 ypg (Saints)
Median: 339.0 ypg (Average of Dolphins & Falcons)
League Average: 335.2 ypg
Jason Campbell’s Redskins: 312.5 ypg


Official Rules:

No duplicate entries. Enter early and often. Round all guesses to the nearest tenth (e.g. 315.4).

Maximum of one entry on each of the following platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Blog Comment, Call or Text to 916-776-6774

Maximum number of entries per person: 4

For Twitter: You must mention me and use the hashtag, preferably at the end of your guess tweet “@Raidersblog #RAIDERS”

For Blog Comments: I must be able to contact the winner please leave contact information (Twitter ID, email etc) or email it to me and identify your guess to be eligible.

For phone entries: Please leave your name o…

Kelly Trims Down

In 2008, the Raiders gave Tommy Kelly a monster contract in the form of $18.125 million in guarantees with $25.125 million total in the first three years.

It is worth noting, Kelly stands to make about $4.5 million in 2010, having already collected all but $300,000 in bonus money. He will also now be bound to the Raiders until 2014 with only base salaries. He could be easily cut in future seasons.




The Raiders get much for those millions they paid Kelly as he recorded just 5.5 sacks in the two years since signing the deal.

All of this adds up to Tommy Kelly being a lightning rod for criticism. Some of the criticism merited and some not.

Instead of waste away as another member of Al Davis’ 2008 spending spree, Kelly has remained a professional. After playing the season at nearly 350 pounds, Kelly has trimmed down to 315.

Kelly looked quick and punishing as a 295 pound defensive end. Moving him inside to the pass rushing three-technique tackle position was logical, but after two seasons the R…

Post Game Wrap: Raiders 17, Cowboys 9

News and notes from the Raiders 10-point victory Thursday night in Dallas:
Football season has arrived, officially, with the first game preseason game.
It doesn't count and the score doesn't matter, but the new season started and the fans were looking for hope in a new team lead by a new quarterback.
While the offense appeared calm, controlled and more organized under Campbell, the production wasn't there. Campbell went 7 of 15 for 49 yards. Darrius Heyward-Bey didn't have a catch. Zach Miller had three catches for just 15 yards.
Campbell only converted one third down out of six and didn't lead the offense to a score.
Kyle Boller played the remainder of the game after Campbell took a seat in the second quarter. After a rocky start Boller settled in and ended the night 12 of 21 for 148 yards and a touchdown.

Observations:
- Johnnie Lee Higgins appears to be playing with the swagger he had in 2008. He had a few catches, even if he did tip a ball into the air that should hav…

What To Watch: Sophomores

Every year and in every city the preseason is when the fans watch to see if they have the next impact rookie.

This year’s top crop includes Rolando McClain, Lamarr Houston, Jared Veldheer, Jacoby Ford, Bruce Campbell and Walter McFadden.

What is often lost in the rush to evaluate the rookies is just how much a second year player can improve and make an impact for a team. One recent example is Tyvon Branch.

Branch, as a Sophmore, lead all safties in tackles. He figures to be an impact player for the Raiders in 2010 and beyond.

The 2010 sophmore crop includes: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Mike Mitchell, Louis Murphy, Matt Shaughnessy, Desmond Bryant and Marcel Reece. These sophmores will all see significant playing time in 2010.

The offseason has been filled with reports on Heyward-Bey’s improvement. He’s looked like the best player on the field at times and his route running is much better. All the reports a vast departure his the drop-filled 2009.

Mike Mitchell’s rookie campaign was hindered by a h…

Camp Questions, Preseason Answers

The first preseason game could answer questions or it could create new ones and complicate old ones.

There is no way to know what will happen Thursday night in Dallas. More than anything, the coaches want to make it through the preseason without significant injuries.

There are plenty of questions that need to be answered and the coaches will start to answer them Thursday in Dallas.


Who will win the third running back job: Michael Bennett or Rock Cartwright?

Each back has a different style despite similarly small statures. Cartwright being the better special teams player and much more physical. Bennett is a quicker, faster and can get to the edge. This will be a tough call the coaches will have to make. Cartwright is a little more useful as long as McFadden and Bush are carrying the load, but should the third back be pushed into starter duty as it was multiple times last year, Bennett would probably be the back you’d want to have.


Will the return game improve?

The coaches would probably like…

On the Radio: Talking Colt Brennan

Today at 7:15 p.m. Pacific Time, I'll be joining the Sports Animals on ESPN 1420 Honolulu, Hawaii to talk Colt Brennan and possibly Samson Satele. Tune In!

Satele and Brennan played together at the University of Hawai'i during the 2005 and 2006 seasons. Satele attending from 2002-2006 and Brennan from 2005-2007.

Brennan was added as a fifth quarterback because Bruce Gradkowski has a groin injury and Charlie Frye has an injured wrist. Brennan should see time in the preseason game on Thursday with the third string offense.

The third quarterback position is up for grabs, but Brennan would have to beat out front-runner Kyle Boller and last year's third quarterback Charlie Frye.

If Brennan doesn't make the team, the extra NFL game tape gives him a better chance to catch on with another team or in the UFL.

Holland Waived/Injured

Wide-receiver Jonathan Holland was waived/injured to make roster space for quarterback Colt Brennan, the team announced.

Yet again demonstrating how a minor injury can spell the end of a dream for players on the back end of the roster.

Holland will likely clear waivers and there is good possibility he will sign back with the team once that process is completed.

Colt Brennan In, Someone Out

Colt Brennan was signed as a camp arm.

The Raiders did not immediately announce a roster move to clear space for him.

Brennan reunites with his Samson Satele, his center from the University of Hawaii.

Brennan was cut last weak by the Washington Redskins.

Step Up Your Game: Desmond Bryant

Fifth in a series analyzing players that need to step up their game in 2010 for the Raiders to be a playoff team.

Keeping Everyone Fresh

Desmond Bryant is the 290 pound defensive tackle who played 28% of the snaps in 2009. He is a Harvard graduate.
By comparison, Tommy Kelly played 69% of the snaps, Gerard Warren played 70% of the snaps and Richard Seymour played 23% of the snaps at defensive tackle.

This offseason, Warren was released, Seymour was given the exclusive franchise tag, Lamarr Houston was drafted, and John Henderson was signed. Kelly is still playing on his huge contract and Bryant was penciled in as the team’s new starting defensive tackle with Seymour slated to start at end. In a surprise move, it was announced Houston would play end as well.

As it turns out, Houston would play end because Seymour will play more inside. At least this has been the case in training camp to this point.

Where does that leave Bryant?

Bryant has gone from the potential starter opposite Kelly early…

This Ford Can Fly

Rookie Jacoby Ford has tremendous speed. A track and football star at Clemson, Ford shared returned duties with C.J. Spiller. At the 2010 NFL Combine the Raiders wide-receiver had the best time in the 40-yard-dash, clocking in at a blazing 4.28 seconds.

The Raiders drafted Ford to shore up a weak return game. The surprise may be how Ford is producing at wide-receiver.

With Murphy and Schilens sidelined, Ford and the other receivers have been given additional snaps. Ford, more than anyone, has opened the eyes of the coaching staff and media.

If Ford can put the pressure on Higgins at receiver and in the return game, Higgins could see his path to the 53-man roster narrow.

So far, Ford has done a good job of transitioning his track speed into football speed and catching the football

Darrius Heyward-Bey still thinks he is faster than Ford and it would be great fun to have a handful of sub 4.4 Raiders race. Ford, unlike Heyward-Bey, has shown he can catch the ball as a rookie.

With deadly speed …