This could be the league's quietest camp opening. Instead of the normal thud that comes from large men running violently into each other after nearly five months of "non-contact" work, the Raiders have kicked off things at Redwood Middle School in Napa with four consecutive days of ...
The Raiders won't go full speed or don full pads until Monday, when the Napa Valley will finally come alive with the sounds of contact.
"It's going to be crazy," said middle linebacker
Russell struggled much of his first one-and-a-half seasons but flashed glimpses of promise last December when he threw two touchdown passes in each of his final three games after tossing only five in his previous 11 combined. He also completed more than 50 percent of his passes in each of those games after finishing beneath that mark in six of his previous 11 outings.
Since then, the team has brought in
If Russell falters early, there will be pressure to turn to veteran
Cable has made it clear Russell is the starter, but there's no denying Garcia's shadow threatens to engulf the massive Russell. The question is: What will Russell do about it?
Cable says the struggles were more about coaching than personnel, and he's counting on new coordinator
It'll be interesting to see if Marshall, who was the Seahawks' coordinator the past three seasons, has more autonomy than Ryan, whose game plans and play calls were said to be heavily influenced by owner
Interestingly, there's no panic among players because they're accustomed to not having him around after he skipped the offseason workouts and held himself out of a mandatory minicamp because of a hamstring injury (wink, wink). Burgess had 27 sacks combined in 2005 and '06, but managed just eight and three-and-a-half the past two seasons. The good news: The signing of former Dallas end
Garcia is the one to watch. Fans already are debating over-unders for when he'll replace Russell as the starter. One fan's e-mail put it at seven games. I say five. If Russell doesn't play well the first four weeks against the Chargers, Chiefs, Broncos and Texans, it will be hard to send him out the next three weeks against the Giants, Eagles and Jets, who all should field elite defenses. The pressure to make a change will be greatest from within the organization. Question is: Will Davis be willing to make the change? It is Davis' call, right? (That's a rhetorical question.)
After signing a five-year deal that guarantees him $23.5 million, first-round pick
Arguably no rookie will be more scrutinized than Heyward-Bey, who was the seventh player and first wideout drafted last April. The Raiders passed up higher-rated receivers in part because Davis was infatuated with Heyward-Bey's blazing speed. Heyward-Bey had a reputation for possessing slippery hands in college, and it could be a long year if he struggles while
Garcia says Walker is important to the passing game not only because he's a threat when healthy, but also because he's the only player at that position with legitimate NFL experience. "He has to lead by example," Garcia said. "He has to step in and step up."