Raiders Team Report...

Angry Pope

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Raiders Team Report

7/23/2006

Steve Corkran



The Raiders still appear a few players away from making a run at the Super Bowl. They added some players that figure to help them close the gap, most notably SS Michael Huff, pass-rush specialist Lance Johnston and QB Aaron Brooks. Still, they might find themselves thin, for instance, at defensive tackle, with the loss of veterans Ted Washington and Ed Jasper to free agency. If so, they have several players with some trade value who might be dealt to get players needed at specific positions. Those players include veteran DE Bobby Hamilton, QB Marques Tuiasosopo, WRs Jerry Porter, Doug Gabriel and Ronald Curry, RB Justin Fargas, OL Barry Sims and LB Danny Clark, among others. The Raiders have used this approach quite a bit in recent seasons, so there's plenty of reason to expect a few more trades between now and the start of the regular season.

SCOUTING REPORT: Veteran WR Alvis Whitted often gets overlooked among a receiving corps that includes Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, Ronald Curry and Doug Gabriel. However, he has increased his catch total each of the past three seasons and figures to get at least as much action this season as he did last year. He is one of Oakland's fastest receivers and someone capable of getting open deep and turning a pass into a long catch-and-run play. Managing general partner Al Davis covets speed, and he has admired Whitted's vast potential for many years. Therefore, look for Whitted to get plenty of playing time as a backup receiver this season.

SOMETHING TO PROVE: Eighth-year CB Duane Starks hasn't played in more than 10 games since the 2001 season. He has been injury-prone and a player his team hasn't been able to count upon. He no longer is a starting-caliber cornerback, and he needs the Raiders more than they need his services. It is incumbent upon Starks to show that he still has something left to offer as an extra defensive back, as well as someone who can help the younger corners get better. The Raiders aren't so deep at corner that Starks faces long odds of making the regular-season roster. However, he won't be kept around unless he shows some of the consistency that once made him a top-flight cover corner.

INSIDE DISH: Backup QB Tuiasosopo is in the final year of the six-year contract he signed his rookie season. He is tired of being passed over by journeymen such as Kerry Collins and Aaron Brooks without being given a legitimate shot at the starting spot. Therefore, look for him to force the Raiders to trade him before long or else wait until season's end before seeking employment elsewhere.

RUNNING BACKS ANALYSIS:Grade: C. See LaMont Jordan run. See Jordan catch. See Jordan score. This corps is as good as Jordan fares, which was decent last season but not as productive as hoped for by the Raiders.
 
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