A few thoughts about the Raiders training camp, trying to make sense of all the information that is generated every day:
-It’s no big secret that the Raiders lack a true #1 wide receiver – someone who can take over a game and who requires opponents to plan their defense around covering him – but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to move the ball in the passing game.
Early camp returns are positive for the two young receivers that, barring injury, will be the Raiders opening 2013 starters, Rod Streater and Denarius Moore.
Streater, in particular, has had a very solid camp. Last year, he was one of the worst receivers in the league in terms of his drop rate percentage but he’s been much more consistent through the first 3 days of training camp, catching the balls that come in his area and not exhibiting the lack of concentration that plagued him at the end of his rookie campaign.
Streater is also better focused on football this year. Last year, he came into camp having cross trained in martial arts to keep himself in shape. He made the team as an undrafted free-agent so that strategy obviously worked to some level. This year, however, he worked on the nuances of the position so that he could improve in his second season, specifically focusing on improving his route-running abilities.
If the Raiders are going to really exceed expectations, however, they need both Streater and Moore to step up and be reliable targets in the passing game so that the defense cannot simply focus on taking one away.
Only time will tell if both Streater and Moore can take those necessary steps forward but if they both are able to do so, the team can still succeed without a true #1 receiving threat. They will use Moore and Streater interchangeably, in that instance, and throw to the receiver that the defense is letting more open.
That methodology will play well into Flynn's style, which is less about having to make a big play down-field and more about surgically striking the ball where it needs to go, relying on short and intermediate passes and crossing routes with only the occasional shot down-field.
-Injuries are the way of life in the NFL and so the Raiders got some good and bad info yesterday. Late yesterday, it appears that their LBs are not going to miss as much time as they had feared.
Per CSN’s Scott Bair, Kaluka Maiava’s L foot/leg injury is minor and, while he’ll miss some time and have to rehab the injury, it’s not something that would knock him out for much of the season.
Later in the evening yesterday, Jerry McDonald of the Contra Costa times had information from a source that Sio Moore, who missed practice on Sunday after sustaining an injury on Saturday, has been cleared for practice Monday.
Of course, it’s not all positive. The Raiders lost Jacoby Ford to an injury on Saturday and while the injury isn’t believed to be too major, his injury history and inability to get back out onto the field when hurt doesn’t bode well for his chances.
-I think Taiwan Jones has a shot at making the roster as a cornerback. He’s already stood out more than some of other players at the position. In practice on Sunday, Jones intercepted a Matt McGloin pass, a testament to the work he’s been putting in.
The Raiders don’t need Jones to be an all pro at DB but he does have to learn enough to not be a huge liability if he’s put in. However, he’s physically gifted and he’s a very good special teams player so he may be able to fit onto the roster to provide depth at DB, RB and as a special teams gunner because versatility is valuable to an organization.
-The TE competition will be interesting because the team wants a complete TE as a starter but doesn’t appear to have one on the roster. A complete TE is someone who can stay in and block but is also able to be a weapon in the passing game.
Instead, the Raiders have players that can fit more narrow roles. It was asked of Coach Allen if a TE by committee approach was where the Raiders were headed and he said that that was not his preference – that he would prefer one of the players to stand up and take control of the position.
On the surface, the most likely is vet David Ausberry. He’s by far the most explosive of the TEs and has the best hands as well. He can function at most areas of the field – short, intermediate and long- and is a matchup headache for the defense as he’s faster than LBs but bigger than most DBs at 6’4”.
Ausberry’s biggest weakness is his blocking abilities and he definitely leaves something to be desired. However, the goal of the offense is to score points and the Raiders should not leave a viable offensive threat on the bench just so that they can have an extra blocker in on passing downs. The Raiders should start Ausberry at the position, barring a significant change in one of the other contenders.
-Terrelle Pryor has obviously worked a lot on his mechanics this off-season. A year ago, he was horribly inconsistent and almost constantly would be bouncing passes off the turf because of it. While he still has some bounces this year, he’s show-casing improved mechanics and, because of it, improved accuracy at all areas of the field.
It’s unlikely he’s going to get the starting position because he’d have to outplay Matt Flynn and Flynn, for all of his physical limitations has been extremely accurate through the first three days of camp. However, Pryor should win the primary backup spot which means he is just one injury from being the starter and coming into the game to show what he can do.
Alternately, I think there’s the possibility that if he does well in pre-season and if the team feels comfortable with Tyler Wilson as the primary backup, they would trade Pryor for a late-round pick to a QB needy team because I do not believe the coaching staff looks to Pryor as their future and they would then get some compensation for him that they can use in the future for a player they like better.
As always, for more Raiders news and thoughts, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews