That’s right Raider Nation, the long-awaited start to the 2014 season begins tomorrow. As the Oakland Raiders prepare to begin their Training Camp in Napa, CA, I wanted to get your thoughts on who you will be watching the most.
Will it be Khalil Mack, the #1 draft pick for the Oakland Raiders this year. Can he become that franchise player that will elevate this team and make the defense strong and powerful for years to come? Is it going to be the mental battle that Matt Schaub will face, not only in his first pre-season game, but in the entire 2014 season? Surely he will be looking to prove the doubters wrong.
Maybe it will be the beefed up Offensive Line that was constructed to push opposing defenses around. Can third round draft pick Gabe Jackson make the starting lineup, will Menelik Watson stay healthy, or will Donald Penn’s claims about the Raiders being a running bully come true?
Then, there are the defensive linemen. I know I can’t wait to see Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, and Antonio Smith sacking the QB’s wearing Silver and Black. Will they stay healthy and make this team a defensive juggernaut? There is also the maturation of Sio Moore to consider. Can he build upon a very good rookie season?
It is well-known that I favor TE Mychal Rivera over David Ausberry, but I would love to see Ausberry perform how the coaching staff believes he should. Also, I hope that rookie Jake Murphy can beat out Nick Kasa and Brian Leonhardt and Scott Simonson for a roster spot. This TE battle will be highly anticipated by many.
The WR position is deep this year, and there will be very tough cuts made before September gets here. I don’t know that there are any of the players set in stone to make the team, with the exception of Rod Streater and James Jones. After that, it’s anybody’s guess as to who will be the supporting cast for Matt Schaub.
On the defensive backs side of the ball, the biggest question entering camp is whether or not D.J. Hayden will be able to go or not. Keith McGill and Jonathan Dowling are going to be fun rookies to keep an eye on, especially early in pre-season games. Still, the kicker/holder relationship between Marquette King and Sebastian Janikowski could be what you will be looking at as well. Did they finally figure it out? Can they have the cohesiveness Janikowski shared with Shane Lechler? We’ll see.
One thing is certain, Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April has to be licking his chops. Think of all the talent he gets to evaluate: From kick returners to gunners to punt returners, the speed on the field for the Raiders is going to be crazy. I’m pulling for George Atkinson, III, to make the roster as a returner.
So chime in with your comments below, and let us know who you will be watching the most during Training Camp. Camp battles are always fun and exciting, and the atmosphere in and around the Oakland Raiders is building to be very positive. I will be at Training Camp on August 1st around 3:00 PM, and I hope to see all my Raider Nation Family out there in attendance. Raiders Football is back!
Tags: Antonio Smith Bobby April D.J. Hayden Donald Penn Gabe Jackson George Atkinson Jonathan Dowling Justin Tuck Keith McGill Khalil Mack LaMarr Woodley Matt Schaub Menelik Watson Mychal Rivera Oakland Raiders Training Camp