Preseason Primer


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Jan 22, 2006
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Preseason Primer

Training Camp Site: Napa Valley Marriott
Location: Napa Valley, Calif.
Rookies Report: July 24
Veterans Report: July 24

Record: 4-12 (4th in AFC West)
Total Offense: 309.4 (21st)
Rushing: 85.6 (29th)
Passing: 223.9 (10th)
Total Defense: 330.8 (27th)
Rushing: 128.1 (25th)
Passing: 202.7 (18th)

Change was inevitable after another disappointing season in Oakland. Art Shell replaced Norv Turner, and Aaron Brooks replaced Kerry Collins. Veterans Charles Woodson, Ted Washington and Ron Stone also were shown the door.

After deciding to go with Brooks, the Raiders then concentrated on improving its defense. Three of its top four picks addressed that side of the ball (including No. 7 overall selection Michael Huff). They also signed former Patriots defensive backs Tyrone Poole and Duane Starks, and brought back defensive end Lance Johnstone.

If the Raiders can stay healthy -- especially wide receivers Randy Moss and Jerry Porter -- and if the offensive line can protect Brooks and if the defense can make some strides, the team should show some marked improvement. However, it is playing in the ultracompetitive AFC West, so it would be a stretch to expect it to reach the playoffs this season.

Will the offense improve under Aaron Brooks?
Like Kerry Collins, Brooks can throw the deep ball. Unlike Collins, Brooks has good mobility, which means he can pull it down and run for a first down (6.2 yards per carry last season). Robert Gallery finally will get his chance at left tackle, and if he is successful against the league's top pass rushers, Brooks will have time to find an open receiver. There is the perception he will have trouble sending enough passes toward Randy Moss and Jerry Porter to keep them happy, but Brooks has said, "I've never had problems with my receivers. They do what they're supposed to do and I try and get them the ball."

Will the changes on defense work?
Ted Washington is gone, and if Warren Sapp can't rebound from rotator-cuff surgery, opponents will be tempted to consistently run the ball up the middle. That means Oakland's linebackers and secondary will have to be more active and more athletic. Huff, the top defensive back in the draft, might line up anywhere on the field. Second-round pick Thomas Howard, a linebacker from UTEP, can rush the passer. Fourth-round choice Darnell Bing played safety at Southern California, but might get a long look at linebacker during camp. Free-agent signee Robert Thomas is a solid backup linebacker. But on the line, they do have end Derrick Burgess -- who led the league with 16 sacks last season -- and Lance Johnstone, who spent the first five seasons of his career with Oakland and can rush the passer. In the secondary, charles Woodson is gone, but Fabian Washington and Nnamdi Asomugha seem to be a solid cornerback duo, and Huff could team up well with Stuart Schweigert at safety.

Will Art Shell make a difference?
It has been years since he was on a coaching staff, and more than a decade since he was a head coach. As a Hall of Fame player who had a fairly successful stint guiding the Los Angeles Raiders, he should earn instant respect, but can he keep it? Will he be familiar enough with the 21st century version of the NFL to make his players successful? He, as well as virtually all of his assistants, are Al Davis hires, which might make it difficult for players to buy into considering the team has gone 13-35 over the past three seasons. Shell will have to deal with Randy Moss, a rabid fan base hungry for a winner, and a young defense that might take some lumps in the high-scoring AFC West.

Roster Additions Players Lost
Aaron Brooks, QB
Lance Johnstone, DE
Tyrone Poole, CB
Marcellus Rivers, TE
O.J. Santiago, TE
Rod Smart, RB
Cameron Spikes, G
Duane Starks, CB
Robert Thomas, LB
Kerry Collins, QB
Renaldo Hill, DB
Ed Jasper, DT
Tim Johnson, LB
Ron Stone, G
Denard Walker, CB
Ted Washington, DT
Charles Woodson, CB

Rd Sel# Player Pos. Ht. Wt. School
1 7 Huff, Michael SS 6-0 203 Texas
2 38 Howard, Thomas OLB 6-3 240 Texas-El Paso
3 69 McQuistan, Paul G 6-6 313 Weber State
4 101 Bing, Darnell SS 6-2 228 Southern California
6 176 Boothe, Kevin OT 6-5 315 Cornell
7 214 Morris, Chris C 6-3 300 Michigan State
7 255 McMahan, Kevin WR 6-2 195 Maine
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