We take a look at our second team in the training camp battles series. We already looked at the Jacksonville Jaguars, and now its time to take a peak at the Oakland Raiders.
I'm running down the list off my power rankings a few weeks back.
Oakland aimed for change in its roster this offseason, and that's what they got. The Raiders made a splash in free agency by picking up Matt Schaub, Maurice Jones-Drew, James Jones, Lamarr Woodley, Antonio Smith, Justin Tuck, Carlos Rogers, and Tarell Brown. Yeah, quite a bit of turnover, but something had to be done in the brutal AFC West. The Raiders finished a disappointing 4-12 and missed out on the playoffs. With all the changes, it should make for some interesting battles in training camp for starting gigs.
Key battles at: RG, WR, RB, SS, MLB
Right Guard: Kevin Boothe vs Gabe Jackson
Two newcomers will be battling it out at the right guard position. Boothe, who was originally drafted by the Raiders in 2006, comes back to the team as he spent the last six seasons with the New York Giants. Jackson, a rookie, is a third round pick out of Mississippi State and is a two time All-American. Boothe is 6'5" 320, and Jackson is 6'3" 336, should be a healthy competition.
Wide Receiver: Denarius Moore vs Rod Streater
Bringing in James Jones from Green Bay makes this a fight for the #2 receiver spot. Streater was the leading receiver for the Raiders last year with 60 receptions. Moore was second with 46, despite missing three games. One thing is for sure, the Raiders need more production out of their wide outs and will look to these two for it. Having Matt Schaub over Terrelle Pryor or Matt McGloin should help.
Running Back: Darren McFadden vs Maurice Jones-Drew
This very well could be a two headed attack, but someone has to be listed as starter. McFadden has the advantage due to being in the system longer, but is injury prone and missed 19 regular season games the last three seasons. He's also averaged 3.3 yards per carry in the last two years. MJD comes back to his home state after eight years in Jacksonville, and may have more motivation because of it. Jones-Drew is entering his ninth season and has over 1,800 career carries, so the wear and tear may start to show. I'd expect these two to split the carries for the majority of the season unless one just completely shows out over the other.
Strong Safety: Brandian Ross vs Tyvon Branch
Branch missed basically all of last season as he went down in Week 2 with a fractured fibula. Ross stepped in and made 75 tackles. I'd expect Branch to get his job back, as he seems to be back to 100 percent. Branch is the veteran and the more sure tackler, but Ross should come into camp with some confidence after almost a full year of playing time last year.
Middle Linebacker: Nick Roach vs Kevin Burnett
With Khalil Mack and Sio Moore locking up the outside linebacker spots, Roach and Burnett will compete in the middle. Roach had 112 tackles and 5.5 sacks and forced 4 fumbles last season. Burnett had 105 tackles, 2.5 sacks and 3 forced fumbles last year playing on the outside. He will most likely be the one on the outside looking in since they brought first round pick Khalil Mack in. Roach was the team's leading tackler in his first season with the team after coming over from Chicago. Burnett led the team in tackles for loss. Expect Burnett to at least push Roach in the competition as the nine year veteran has plenty of experience under his belt. Burnett still is very valuable to the linebacking core as he could play both inside and out.
Up next, the Houston Texans.
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