The months of the offseason have finished their slow march, and it is time for the 2009 edition of Oakland Raiders football to begin in earnest. The Raiders checked in to the Napa Marriott to spend the next month completely focused on football.
As of right now, all of the teams in the NFL are currently tied at 0-0-0. Despite the odds from Vegas or preconceptions, every team has an equal chance of finishing the season with a Super Bowl win. If this was baseball, Bob Costas would be waxing poetically about fresh cut grass, the smell of leather, and the grand rebirth of spring. However, it is late summer and the gladiators of the NFL are congregating to to prepare for their seventeen weeks of battle.
The Oakland Raiders are a young team struggling to find their winning identity under their coach Tom Cable. Their practices at minicamps had their ups and downs, but through it all Cable stressed the importance of learning, which is key for a team as young as the Raiders.
There is a certain ominous cloud hanging over the beginning of camp with first round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey not yet signed. It doesn’t help that Heyward-Bey missed much of the offseason workout program due to injuries, so any further time missed only sets him back more.
Contrary to the media reports that seem to want there to be a quarterback controversy between JaMarcus Russell and Jeff Garcia, Russell is going to be the starter and Garcia is going to be the backup. The Raiders are invested in Russell to the tune of $60 million, and that kind of money does a lot of talking. The hope is that Garcia’s fiery nature and work ethic rub off on the former number one pick out of LSU.
For some of the players, this will be the end of the line for them as Raiders and potentially the end of their NFL dream. For others, this will be the beginning of the realization of their childhood dreams of playing pro football. One of the players the Raider Nation was really hoping to see live that dream, Frantz Joseph, has already faced the harsh reality that there is nothing guaranteed for undrafted free agents. Being a sixth round pick didn’t even get Stryker Sulak into training camp. Apparently he didn’t fit the system, so the question is why was he picked?