With five weeks until training camp, the Oakland Raiders, coaches, and fans eagerly anticipate the first day. While camp is not the regular season, the bright lights of September become visible. With that said, FPC Raiders writers Ray Aspuria, Chris Simmons, and I discuss key issues that could affect camp. First, we discuss stopping the run. In 2017, the Raiders allowed 100 plus yards eight times.
With all the run-stuffing additions, what opposing RB do you believe will give the Raiders the most trouble?
Division wise, it will be Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt. In 2017, he enjoyed sensational rookie campaign and will only improve. The Raiders run defense sees their first test immediately in Week 1 against Todd Gurley and the Rams, though. That will be the litmus test to see where this unit can actually improve.
Although the Chiefs do not list him as a back, I say Tyree Hill. However, he presents the sort of challenge the Raiders have zero answer for. In truth, very few teams possess players to match up with him. Yet, considering how many targets he gets in the flat, and KC’s willingness to use him in the backfield, the Raiders are not ready for him.
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If he plays, Le’Veon should scare every fan. While he does not possess the greatest speed or power, Bell shows patience. If you watch film, notice the glide, and patience he displays. When he carries the ball, nothing feels forced with Bell. The Raiders must play sound, strategically disciplined football.
Unlike Gruden teams of old, the Raiders will see an influx of rookies. Some will play a pivotal role in the season. Where does your level of anxiety about their eventual readiness sit?
How could we know if their heads are swimming before training camp? Additionally, the hope remains that Jon Gruden assembled the kind of coaching staff that can get their players ready. Moreover, having older more experienced players at important positions will help as well.
I do not have a concern about the rookies getting playing time. As Jon Gruden noted, he does not care what round a player is taken, if the player can play, they will play. I approach the rookie class with that same mentality.
In regards to rookies, the only concern I continue to feel relates to Kolton Miller. Donald Penn will probably retire in a year or two; Miller appears to be the heir apparent. However, what bothers me is the lack of functional consistency. At UCLA, Miller did not bend at the waist and opposing rushers dipped and gained the edge. I hope that Tom Cable can drum that out of him.