2018 Raiders Camp: Careful With Hype

Oakland Raiders DB eRIK hARRIS
Harris #41 of the Oakland Raiders reacts after making a play on punt coverage against the Los Angeles Chargers during an NFL football game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on October 15, 2017 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

With a considerable gap between organized team activities, it is not difficult to get caught up in the hoopla of training camp. There will be the inevitable camp flash and dud.

As the Oakland Raiders prep for training camp in Napa later this week, it is best to have an even-keeled approach to player performances. Go with the grain of salt methodology. You will be healthier mentally — and likely physically — because of it. Now, that has not to say hearing coaches talk up players is not refreshing. By all means, bring forth the positive vibes. As head coach Jon Gruden, stating reserve special teams safety Erik Harris was the biggest surprise after the Raiders mandatory minicamp last month. On the other hand, offensive line boss Tom Cable stating second-year offensive tackle David Sharpe could be 10-year type player if he puts it all together.

Both of those instances please a rabid fanbase known as Raider Nation.

Let me ask you a question. How many times have you seen camp revelations grow into nothing more than just that?

Flip the coin and you get the tales of impotence. Take the backup quarterbacks for example. Connor Cook was given ample snaps as the second-string signal caller ahead of last year’s primary Derek Carr backup E.J. Manuel. While Manuel remained true to himself, steady. Cook operated like a Six Flags roller coaster. A dime followed by errant throws.

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Then there is the curious case of Obi Melifonwu. The athletically gifted physical specimen who fits the Paul Guenther prototype safety to a T. He fell behind at minicamp and, to no surprise, found himself playing behind Harris and other safeties.

Still, it is Napa where the separation will happen. Where the haves and have-nots shift and move to one side and the other. If Gruden is true to his word regarding draft status means little — you will play if you are deemed the best option at the position — training camp will be a dogfight for many.

Nevertheless, just like coaches and scouts will do, take it all in and measure everything by a grain of salt. Consistency surely demands attention. Whether it is a player, is continually making strides or one stinking up the joint? Nevertheless, it is what happens game week and game day that will make all the difference. Camp flashes must translate to game flashes.

If not, that blink of brilliance will also mark the same amount of time said player was a Raider. Blink and it dissipates.



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