Oakland Raiders: Players emerging in camp
Jul 30, 2013; Napa, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders receiver Rod Streater (80) catches a pass at training camp at Napa Valley Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Although it’s only Day 4 of camp, Day 3 of practice, some player’s names are beginning to emerge as standouts in Training Camp. With the pads finally on, the speed of practice has increased with collisions being imminent. Some would call this a make or break year, and others would call it a year to finally see some improvement. Whatever your opinion on the matter, it’s definitely a year to see the draft picks and free agent acquisitions pan out.
This year, I believe that Raider Nation will not be disappointed. Even with the loss of D.J. Hayden for an undetermined amount of time (surgery on his foot 4 weeks ago with a 4-8 week recovery time after surgery), there is hope at the CB position. First of all, rookie 4th Round Draft Pick Keith McGill returned to practice and was a full participant. It’s only his first day, but I am looking for him to step up and become a stand out at CB.
Rookie 7th Round Draft Pick Travis “TJ” Carrie is having a very good, if not great, camp performance. He is doing everything asked of him, and he is doing it at a high level. His coverage skills as a CB are showing up, and that’s definitely something the Raiders need right now. He is very versatile, and he can be used as a cover CB and as a return guy on ST’s.
4th year veteran Chimdi Chekwa and 5th year veteran Taiwan Jones have both stepped up and found their rhythm at CB as well. This is finally looking like a secondary that can be depended upon. Definitely one with a lot more options than just Hayden, Tarell Brown, or Carlos Rogers. This will be very necessary headed into the 2014 season, and I will look to see these four aforementioned players continue to show themselves in Pre-season.
On the Offensive side of the ball, OL Menelik Watson has finally come to play. He may be raw, but his talent to play the position of offensive tackle is beginning to show. With last years injury behind him, it’s definitely a positive to see him getting after it on the field.
Also lost to injury last season, 2nd year RB Latavius Murray has been showing signs of why the Raiders think he can be the future at the RB position. Interestingly enough, his push through the line and high-stepping/driving knees have been compared to that of Roger Craig (RB for SF 49ers). Not a bad comparison. If Murray could become the type of runner Craig was for the 49ers, that would be something else.
Matt Schaub is definitely getting his “Mojo” back. He is completing passes with a purpose, and he is leading the team through their practices. It’s definitely nice to have an actual QB at the position and not a question mark.
Rod Streater always shows up in Camp, and this year is no exception. Unfortunately, he suffered another concussion, and he will have to miss a couple of days. The good news is that the Raiders have a day off on Tuesday, and Streater should be back to work no later than Thursday, as long as he passes the NFL protocols.
Other players emerging are WR’s James Jones and Andre Holmes, TE’s Mychal Rivera and David Ausberry, SS Tyvon Branch, and P Marquette King. These are players that are beginning to get a feel for things, and they are separating themselves from the pack.
Again, it’s only Day 4 of Training Camp, and there is still a lot of work to be done. It’s just nice to see some players working extremely hard to prepare themselves for the 2014 season. The Oakland Raiders have had their fair share of lackluster performers in the past, but that’ where it now stays, in the past. It’s a new era in Raiders history, one that starts with standout performances in camp, and it ends with triumphant victories in the regular season. Go Raiders!