Rod Woodson, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Hue Jackson has all the pressure that comes with being a head coach in the NFL but Woodson has the watchful eye of Al Davis following his every move. Not that Hue doesn’t too. Naturally any coach hired by Davis is always in the crosshairs.
For Woodson it’s just different. He’s in charge of the unit Davis takes the most pride in and he’s the man pitted with the task of grooming two freshman and a couple sophomores that will be expected to contribute in very meaningful ways.
As it stands the Raiders have four cornerbacks listed on the roster, one of which is Nnamdi Asomugha. For now we’ll factor him out. That leaves Stanford Routt as the only man you can safely write with ink as a starter. Chris Johnson gets the nod to play opposite Routt but only by default.
Beyond Routt and CJ there are question marks. Really…big…question marks.
Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware did little to convince anyone that they’re ready for expanded roles. For both their worst moments came in a couple crucial games. Ware was highly ineffective in the lopsided loss to the Steelers while McFadden was picked on DeAngelo Hall style against Miami.
Adjusting to the NFL as a cornerback is among the most difficult tasks for any rookie. The rules are against you, the game moves faster and the margin for error grows smaller.
Being a rookie corner is tough enough as it is. Being a rookie corner for the Raiders, where you’re truly alone on the island, is damn near impossible.
Just consider how long it took Asomugha to finally catch on. It wasn’t until last year that Routt looked truly comfortable. The thing is those two had time to develop.
That is not the case for Ware and McFadden and it sure isn’t the case for DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa.
The expectations are much higher in the East Bay after a perfect run through the AFC West and a flirtation with the playoffs.
The young Raider corners are going to have to catch on quickly. As difficult a proposition as that is in a normal year, we’re dealing with a lockout that currently has no end in sight.
For veterans OTAs are nothing more than summer reunions. For rookies it’s the first taste of the NFL.
Not only do the new DBs stand to miss out on dipping their toes in the shallow in end of the pool of pro football, they’ll also miss valuable experiences. Building a champion is more than X’s and O’s. The process to hoisting a Lombardi begins in the weeks of May and June when there are no cameras, no rowdy crowds and no Raiderettes on the sidelines. Just coaches, players and sweltering heat to unite a squad with designs on playing well into the New Year
For Woodson it could cost him some valuable face time with the vets and rookies alike. This is, after all, the Hall of Famer’s first year in the East Bay. He’s as new to the process as the two draft picks he’ll be grooming.
So in some regards it will be a learning experience for all. None the less, it’s one that is going to have to happen in a hurry depending on when this labor nonsense is put to rest.
Oakland’s secondary has been a strength in recent years. Replacing Nnamdi is impossible, that cannot be the goal. Getting to the playoffs is very much a reality but could become a pipe dream if the pass defense suddenly goes the way of the run defense.