The news in Raider camp these days seems to consist mostly of who is injured now. Since camp began, Raider practice has been a who’s who of whoever shows up. The preseason games are shaping up to be a similar story. The roster is so depleted now that a few rookies will be getting their first starts this week against the 49ers.
The receiving corps has three top receivers out. Jacoby Ford went out a couple weeks ago with a broken hand, Louis Murphy went out shortly thereafter with what he is referring to as a strained groin and hamstring, and Chaz Schilens sprained his knee in the first preseason game.
Hue Jackson announced in his press conference that Murphy had surgery today and will likely miss the regular season opener. He was having a great camp prior to his injury and looked like he could have been a starter. If that is to happen, it will be a while.
In the absence of these three receivers, the two starters on Saturday will be Darrius Heyward-Bey, who missed the first couple weeks of camp with an undisclosed injury, and rookie fifth round pick Denarius Moore.
Moore has been the talk of camp with his speedy and precise routes and acrobatic catches. He showed off some of what we have seen in practice in the first preseason game when he caught a short slant and raced for a 26 yard gain. He will get a chance to show off some more of his skills against the 49ers’ first team defense this week.
Hue Jackson also announced that starting corner Chris Johnson underwent surgery today. In his place in practice today was rookie Demarcus Van Dyke. Van Dyke has played decent in practice but was outmatched in the first game against the Cardinals. This is to be expected for a rookie and especially against the likes of Cardinal receiver Larry Fitzgerald. That was a lot to ask of the young rookie for even one series.
On Saturday DVD will be asked to carry the load opposite Stanford Routt for what will likely be the entire first half. Talk about a trial by fire. No one is even sure Van Dyke is ready to be the Raiders’ third corner or nickel corner, let alone a starter. But without a single veteran acquisition at corner this offseason, this is the predicament the Raiders find themselves in. The other options are much worse as second year corners Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware have looked just plain terrible.
The most recent damage is to starting center Samson Satele. He was taken to the hospital today with an unknown injury. We don’t yet know what happened to Satele or how long he will be out. Hue Jackson claims the injury is not too serious and hopefully we will see him back soon. He was replaced in first team snaps by rookie Stefen Wisniewski.
Wiz kid was given a shot early in camp to be the starting center but it became apparent very quickly that he is not ready for the job. He too will get a trial by fire this week. If he can just limit his bad snaps of which he has had quite a few in practice as well as one in the first preseason game, then he will be in better shape.
A couple of other rookies could see their numbers called early as well. Offensive tackle Joseph Barksdale has been making a push for the right tackle job and the way Khalif Barnes looked in the first game, he may just get his chance. David Ausberry was the best looking tight end in camp prior to Kevin Boss’ arrival. Boss will get the start no doubt but when the team inevitably lines up in two tight end sets, Ausberry could come into the game with the first team.
This week’s game will be the best early indication of what kind of draft class the Raiders had this year. And hopefully the Raiders work out their injury issues so we can move on to seeing how this team is taking shape heading into the regular season.