I took a couple of week sabbatical to catch up on life but the world of football keeps churning. I wanted to weigh in on some of the recent actions, etc, taken by the Raiders in the meantime.
-Signing of Matt Leinart – those who follow this site consistently know that I felt that Pryor was unlikely to be ready for the primary backup spot. If he is, that’s icing on the cake. If not, Leinart can be a functional backup.
Leinart has not met his top 10 draft status but hasn’t been as bad as many believe. He was beat out by Kurt Warner, who played at a very high level in his time in AZ and moved to Houston as a backup. The Houston coaching staff was very confident in him last season when starter Matt Schaub was injured but he, also, was injured, suffering a shoulder injury almost immediately in his first game.
However, the Raiders new offensive coaching staff has familiarity with him and he will be familiar with the protection schemes of the Raiders. He also is comfortable with Palmer having been behind him when they were both at USC.
-The Raiders have announced the signings of multiple UDFAs. Of them, WR Rod Streater – who is 6’3″ – has been singled out by both Head Coach Dennis Allen after the rookie minicamp and Carson Palmer after the second day of OTAs as being someone who has really stepped up.
Streater is likely competing for the 1-3 WR spots that are up for grabs on the team. My guess is that there will be 6 WRs on the team but probably not 7. I see 4 WRs as locks: Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denarius Moore, Jacoby Ford and Juron Criner.
Other UDFAs that seem to have a better shot than others are DT Dominique Hamilton, LB Kaelin Burnett and, just based on lack of depth at the position, S Chaz Powell.
Reporters only had a small window in which to view the players so there was precious little info to come out of there. As mentioned above UDFA Rod Streater was singled out by Allen as having stood out. LB Burnett also received praise from Allen after the minicamp.
Media access lasted for a couple of hours on Tuesday and the talk was all of 5th round rookie WR Juron Criner. He made 4 spectacular catches including one in double coverage in which he rose above two defenders to get a long TD catch and a reception on a ball from Pryor that was thrown well behind him but in which he was able to stop and reach back to catch it. His athleticism was on display throughout the session and he also showed great hands.
DHB was DHB, not standing out but not doing terrible, either. He dropped one pass that was a great ball from Palmer simply because he didn’t get his hands on it well. His work throughout the years show in his production but is not a natural “hands” receiver.
Denarius Moore was solid if not as spectacular in this session as Criner.
OTAs do not allow contact so it’s virtually impossible to get any accurate assessment of defensive acuity. LB Aaron Curry ended up with an INT on a pass that was hit at the line of scrimmage, batted around by several other teammates and ended up right in front of him. He returned the INT for a TD for whatever that’s worth in a non-contact drill. Curry also had a “sack” of Palmer – again, no contact and the O-line is learning the scheme and not cut blocking so there, again, isn’t much there.
OTAs are a time to learn and the offense should be able to destroy a defense that cannot hit. However, OTAs under JaMarcus Russell, Kerry Collins and even Jason Campbell were not as crisp as this so the Raiders should be able to field an offense that is better than any since Gannon’s.
Another bright spot: Raiders star RB Darren McFadden looked at full speed and was making plays in both the running and passing game (again, no contact). Taiwan Jones also looked fully healthy and at speed and new RB Mike Goodson showed good burst.
McClain was not at OTAs as he was prepping for his trial which begins today. Yesterday, an edited video broke which allegedly shows the night in question in which he fought with a former friend and allegedly fired a gun next to the victim’s ear. The video appears like it may be out of order although it’s unclear. There is no footage of the alleged gun shot. There are sections of audio missing.
It is a poor PR look for McClain but, in terms of his legal battle, is unlikely to make any difference unless the unedited version is located. I’m not a lawyer but have some experience with litigation with my work and my limited understanding is that this version, as is, is unlikely to be admissible.
For more Raiders news and analysis throughout the day, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews