Team Report....

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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Steve Corkran

PERSONNEL ANALYSIS: Starting WR Jerry Porter has demanded a trade as a result of his unhappiness with first-year coach Art Shell. Shell came down hard on Porter in a get-to-know-you meeting soon after he got hired in February, and the two haven't spoken since. Porter is resigned to playing for the Raiders through next season, when the five-year contract extension he signed before the 2005 season can be voided after three years. That's a good thing because his prohibitive contract would make it difficult for the Raiders to trade him - he has a sizable cap figure if he is traded. The Raiders have enough depth at receiver to go on without missing much if Porter does get traded. WRs Doug Gabriel and Ronald Curry are just as talented as Porter, and they don't cost as much or complain as much.

NEWCOMER REPORT: Third-round draft pick G Paul McQuistan performed so well in mini camps and offseason workouts that Shell inserted him into the starting lineup at right guard. It's McQuistan's job to lose, with veteran Brad Badger ready to play of McQuistan falters. Shell is enamored with McQuistan because of his aggressiveness, toughness and willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done on every play. McQuistan is a natural tackle who is talented enough to make the conversion without much difficulty. Guard was a problem spot for the Raiders last season, so McQuistan won't be held to too high of a standard.

SCOUTING REPORT: DE Lance Johnstone's days as an every-down player are behind him. Still, he has a chance to see plenty of action as a pass-rush specialist opposite reigning NFL sack leader Derrick Burgess. It's a role Johnstone has grown accustomed to filling in recent seasons and one that has enabled him to extend his career. Johnstone will back up Tyler Brayton or Bobby Hamilton at left end and also play on some blitz packages. Johnstone excels at his role by using his above-average speed and the myriad moves he has learned over the years. He also has a knack for knocking the ball from the quarterback's hand on plays in which he can't make the sack.

PLAYBOOK UPDATE: The Raiders have settled back into the 4-3 alignment as their base defense after shunning that for most of the past two seasons. In 2004, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan experimented with the 3-4 alignment as his base defense. Last season, he switched to the 4-3 but had to abandon that in the first game when it became apparent that using converted defensive linemen Tyler Brayton and Grant Irons at outside linebacker wasn't going to work as well as hoped for. Now, Ryan feels as if he has the players in place to make the 4-3 work. The Raiders drafted two linebacker prospects -- Thomas Howard and Darnell Bing -- signed veteran free agent LB Robert Thomas and got back from injury veteran OLB Sam Williams. That gives Ryan plenty of attractive options to choose from among when deciding upon his linebacking corps. For now, it appears as if Williams will start on the strong side, with Morrison moving from the outside to the middle, and Howard getting a shot at earning a spot on the weak-side. All three possess tremendous speed and playmaking ability, something the Raiders haven't had across the board in many years. However, don't rule out veteran Danny Clark fending off Morrison's challenge to his incumbency at the middle spot or even playing well enough to earn a spot on the outside. Either way, the Raiders figure to have the players capable of making plays from sideline to sideline, blitzing, stuffing the run and dropping into coverage. That's something they lacked each of the past two seasons and something that Ryan and Shell hopes transforms Oakland's defense from a lackluster one into a productive one.

QUARTERBACKS ANALYSIS: Grade: C-plus. Aaron Brooks has the ability to be more productive than predecessor Kerry Collins. Backups Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo have two starts combined in their NFL careers.
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