As training camp winds closer, the Oakland Raiders hope for a clean, healthy camp. With this is mind, count on not seeing extensive run from the projected starters. Granted, they must see snaps, longer time in the game isn’t quite necessary. Below, predictions based on nothing but speculation and film study.
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- Vadal Alexander makes a quantum leap during camp. During his rookie season, the former LSU standout played right tackle. He struggled mightily to stay in front of rushers. As a result, he committed ten penalties. By itself, those infractions appear inexcusable. Yet, Alexander looks to slide inside at guard, providing the interior with much needed depth. Plus, his strength stands up versus stout defensive tackles.
- The battle for Carr’s backup will remain a contentious one. Both Connor Cook and EJ Manuel showed both cause of optimism and concern. Initially, I thought Cook could secure the spot. On the other hand, Manuel’s history with offensive coordinator Todd Downing could sway my opinion. At the moment, there isn’t a clear-cut choice. Each passer needs to show something at camp without delay.
- Eddie Vanderdoes may start Week One. Although, that may appear to be a stretch, examine the facts. First, Vanderdoes’ ability to disrupt is an element that the Oakland interior sorely missed in 2016. Second, with Mario Edwards manning a defensive end spot, the need for any interior pressure increases greatly. Latham and Ward can become vital pieces, but doubts exist. Granted, Ward recently underwent surgery, so his timetable may be pushed back. Vanderdoes, provided he maintained his conditioning could serve as the player the Raiders need.
- Cory James nails down the starting middle linebacker spot. Surprisingly, the Raiders did not reach out to Perry Riley this summer. So far, that remains the most compelling evidence of a new direction. James isn’t Mr. Right. Yet, he could fill the roles as Mr. Right Now. Will he hurt the defense in the long run? Possibly not. On the other hand, he will not radically improve the unit either.
- Depthwise, the look of the secondary shifts this summer. In the hope that the team recovers from a 2016 that features blown coverages and long scores, Oakland adds new blood. If you look at the roster and see Keith McGill and look shocked, you are not alone. Expect a rookie undrafted player to snatch his spot.
All things considered, this Raiders roster could be the most talented in years. The final cuts before Week One look to be difficult. Some team will inherit talented ex-Raiders.