The Raiders have officially started training camp today, out in the wine country of Napa California.
This has not been as complex a start to training camp as it was a year ago, and I would bet that everyone within the Raider Nation is absolutly thrilled about that.
First off, lets talk about the bad things, and move into all of the good things that are happening.
DE Derrick Burgess looks as though he will be a training camp holdout. This is nothing new, as Burgess has been unhappy with his contract since he basically signed it.
He will receive no love from me, because I believe that when you sign a contract, you have the moral obligation to honor it to the end. In the NFL today there seems to be far too many players out there that want the security of a long term contract, but less then half way into it, they want more and more money. If you want to stay at pace with the going pay rate, then you need not sign long term tenures.
I will leave that at that.
As for baby Burgess, my guess is that one of the first teams that has a training camp injury to a starting DE, Burgess will be packing his bags and heading to that team. This would be the reason that Greg Ellis was picked up from Dallas, and also why we keep drafting more ends.
Between Ellis, Trevor Scott, Jay Richardson, Greyson Gunheim, Derrick Gray and 2009 3rd round draft pick
Matt Shaughnessy, I would bet that we will be fine without Burgess in the lineup. Plus it would be wise to get some type of return for him, before he hits the free agent market next year, and we get nothing in return.
Starting LG Robert Gallery had to have emergency appendectomy surgery recently, and he will be out for a couple of weeks.
Although the surgery was a success and Gallery appears to be healing just fine, he will not be able to participate in practice until it is certain that he is fully healed with no prospect of a hernia.
Gallery has emerged as one of the better guards in the league, and his veteran talent and leadership will be missed while he sits out, but his work ethic and dedication should restore him to full potential by the start of the 2009 season.
Although this is an issue, it most certainly could have been much worse, and the key factor is that Gallery gets healed and healthy again.
QB Andrew Walter wants out! OK, so this really isn't that big an issue, as we now have JaMarcus Russell, Jeff Garcia, Bruce Gradkowski and Charlie Frye in our QB roster, but it's an issue none the less.
Walter was the starter for this team during our worst season ever (2-14), and he has not been given much of a chance since. This will not likely change any time soon, as the prospect of him even retaining a roster spot would be slim.
I would have to say that Walter has a lot of quality tools to perhaps make a great starting QB somewhere in the NFL. It however, will not be happening in Oakland.
I wish Andrew Walter all the best of luck, and I hope that he can find a home somewhere else soon.
Now on to the good stuff!
Al Davis and Tom Cable are still very much in love!
You laugh, but I'm serious!
Nothing killed our 2008 season more then the issue of Davis and Kiffin splitting up. That rift cause so much turmoil within the locker room, that it would have made it near impossible to fully focus on football.
This year, Davis and Cable are on the same page, they have a great working relationship, that will no doubt translate to harmony on the field and in the locker room.
When you hear interviews from some of our top players like JaMarcus Russell, Kirk Morrison and Nnamdi Asomugha, all of them will tell you that it is nice to have some continuance with the coaching staff, and the “Family” atmosphire is really becoming a huge part of this team.
I truly believe that keeping Tom Cable on as the head coach will begin the turnaround that this team desparately needs to have.
Our rookie class has almost been fully signed and ready for camp.
6th round draft pick DE Stryker Sulak was released and 7th rounder TE Brandon Myers has yet to be signed, but aside from those two, the lot have been signed.
1st round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey has agreed upon a 5 year contract today and he will have it signed and at camp come tomorrow (friday). Missing only the one day of camp shouldn't hurt HB's development too much, and it is great to have that deal done.
2nd round pick S Mike Mitchell, 3rd round pick DE Matt Shaughnessy, 4th rounders WR Louis Murphy and LB Slade Norris are all signed and present for camp.
There is a full aray of depth to every position.
When you play a professional sport, you cannot get into a mode of complacency. You have to have somebody keeping you on your toes, and pushing you to better yourself.
Key positions of note, are at QB with Jeff Garcia nipping at JaMarcus Russell's toes, and our pluthera of talent at the running back position. If we can have a healthy Darren McFadden, Michael Bush and Justin Fargas, we should have one heak of a great three headed running attack.
This is now a specified team, with the specific type of players needed to make it work.
You cannot have a deep ball threat without a deep ball passer and deep ball receivers.
You cannot have a fast, hard hitting and intimidating defense without fast, hard hitting and intimidating players.
You cannot properly install a run first offense, without some solid depth at running back.
Al Davis has been trying to bring back the type of team that he once had success with, and up until this year, there has always been a missing piece or two to the puzzle.
We now have the prospective talent to fill those voids and if these players can live up to their expectations, and coaches can properly utilyze that talent, then we may very well see one great big change in game time results.
People like to talk about the “Al Davis 70's style” not being able to work in todays NFL, BUT I say, how can we know that unless he has the right coach, the right players and the right mentality to make it work. So with that said, I believe that this will be the year that we find out if the game has passed by Davis, or if he is just as on the ball as he has always been in the past.
We within the Raider Nation would be very much hoping for that later of the two.
Other notes to make are the waiving of some players and the release of one.
WR Arman Shields, waived (failed physical)
QB Danny Southwick, waived
LB Frantz Joseph, waived
DE Stryker Sulak, waived
S Keith Davis, released
This now puts the Raiders at the manditory limit of 80 player to attent training camp.
No key players that are truly noteworthy were let go yet, so by all accounts that is good news.
On one final note (perhaps the greatest bit of news of all)
I have now set my trip to the Bay area for November, and I will be attending my first game in the Balck hole!
I have seen my Raiders play several times before, but living 4600km away from Oakland California has made it very difficult for me to make the trip to the Black hole.
As luck would have it (and a bit of an added debt) I will be 4 rows up, close to the 50 yard line, on the Raiders side of the field, in section 115, with my lovely wife, to watch my beloved Raiders play the Kansas City Chiefs on November 15th 2009!
I could not be any more stoked to see this game, and I can ensure you that I will be the biggest kid in the worlds largest candy store that day drapped in silver and black, with face paint and salivating for Red and yellow blood!
I will truly be at home with my fellow Raider Nation bretheran, and I simply cannot wait for it all to transpire.
On that note, lets get some football happening, and I will be sure to keep you all posted of what's happening with our
About the Author
Written by Lee Tremblay