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State of the Raiders - Training Camp Preview
David Dorey
July 29, 2009
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This series of analysis on the 32 NFL teams takes a look at where teams have been over the last three years for each position - where they have ranked in the most notable categories and the hard statistics produced. This is to give a view of each team heading into training camp and what they most likely need to improve on this season and where their strengths lie that likely won't need any changes. Ending each team review is a brief summation of what to watch in training camp in August to uncover those developing situations that you can take advantage. Combining where teams have come from and what they have done in free agency and the NFL draft gives you the very same thing that NFL coaches are looking at as they attempt to improve their team for 2009.
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Training Camp Opens: July 29
Head Coach: Tom Cable (1st year)
Stadium: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum  Surface: Grass
2009 Schedule   2009 Roster   2008 Statistics   2008 Record: 5-11

QB Carries Rush YD Rush TD Pass Comp Comp % Pass YD YPP Pass TD Int Rank YD Rank TD
2006 40 183 0 481 263 55% 2850 10.8 7 23 30 32
2007 54 187 3 450 260 58% 2893 11.1 17 20 29 25
2008 24 157 1 419 221 53% 2631 11.9 13 11 31 29

Quarterback - It's been a long time since the Raiders passing attack has been elevated higher than "horrible" and only a late season surge prevented them from securing the 32nd-32nd in yards and scores. JaMarcus Russell enters his third season but he still has some development left to go before he can reach being merely average. Russell is a huge player at 6'6" and 260 but that has translated more into lethargic than steadfast. The Raiders desperately need him to deliver on being the first pick in the 2007 NFL draft. Jeff Garcia plays #2 but it would be no shock if he doesn't get some playing time before the year is out. Russell needs to show some fire in his belly instead of just lobster, steak and french fries.

RB Carries Rush YD YPC Rush TD Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD Rcv TD Rank YD Rank TY Rank TD
2006 352 1328 3.8 5 80 53 66% 356 0 28 31 30
2007 448 1887 4.2 8 121 89 74% 671 1 6 7 22
2008 428 1775 4.1 8 107 73 68% 614 1 9 12 28

Running Backs - Sure, they don't score much so far but at least the Raiders can gain rushing yardage and should improve on it more this year. Justin Fargas was the starter they never wanted to use last year but he'll be shuttled back down the depth chart since Darren McFadden is expected to make good on his own first round draft selection (sort of theme on this team). McFadden only managed to play in 13 games and had 113 runs for 499 yards thanks to a balky turf toe that has only healed in the offseason. Provided he can remain healthy, he's a lock to improve and had a 164 yard effort against the Chiefs before his toe robbed him of his rookie season. Michael Bush is expected to see an increase from his 95 carries last year but his role would tend more towards short yardage and goal line and so far - this is not the offense that ends up near the endzone very often.

WR Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 280 145 52% 1761 12.1 4 26 32
2007 225 112 50% 1586 14.2 12 30 20
2008 200 82 41% 1166 14.2 11 32 23

Wide Receivers - This sad sack group is the exact reason why you cannot think "well, they will have to throw and someone will have to catch it" because no, actually no one has to catch it. Seven different wideouts had a catch for the Raiders last year and Johnnie Lee Higgins topped the group with a whopping 22 catches for 366 yards and four scores. Javon Walker is not only a bust, he is a Raiders-quality bust which trumps all others. Chaz Schilens may end up as the starter though he only has 15 NFL catches in his rookie season last year. Not bad for a seventh round wideout but on the Raiders, it hasn't been all that likely the ball is passed where they could catch it anyway. Until either Russell steps up and plays like expected it doesn't really matter. The quality of passing is reflected in the 41% catch rate of these wideouts.

TE Target Rcv Catch % Catch YD YPR Rcv TD Ranks YD Rank TD
2006 121 64 53% 724 11.3 3 12 24
2007 81 52 64% 546 10.5 4 19 23
2008 102 67 66% 859 12.8 1 10 29

Tight Ends
- Zach Miller was the primary receiver on this team with well over twice the yardage of any other player on the Raiders. He reeled in 56 receptions for 778 yards but only one touchdown. It was huge among all the Raiders receivers who are doing little more than running wind sprints during offensive downs. Against NFL tight ends - he had fantasy value but nothing that yielded any difference making because he rarely catches any touchdowns. He ranked #6 among all NFL tight ends for yardage but unless he starts scoring, he's only a marginal fantasy starter. Miller had sports hernia surgery but is expected to be ready for training camp.

Training Camp Fantasy Angle - There is certainly a lot of opportunity on this team since as of last year not one player had really stepped up to make any difference. This is an important training camp but they all are with this team. Russell needs to step up but so far has not really shown the progress to suggest it will happen. Jeff Garcia is on the sideline hoping Russell just flops and he still gets a shot. The rushing game is interesting in fantasy terms since Darren McFadden should be a force if his toe is truly healed. You can follow the wideouts to see what shakes out but the entire passing game is strictly hands off in fantasy terms until and unless Russell gets his act together. It will be good to see what Bush and McFadden do in camp and in preseason games.

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Ease of Schedule for Running Backs
Ease of Schedule for Receivers
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