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Oakland Raiders 2014 Training Camp Competition Series: Cornerbacks Part I

July 22nd, 2014 at 11:37 AM
By Nicholas Gill

The Oakland Raiders' cornerback position is one of the most interesting on the team. For the third straight season, the Raiders have brought in a new pair of cornerbacks to play a significant role in the defense. This time, Oakland signed two former San Francisco 49ers in Tarell Brown and Carlos Rogers to pair with 2013 first-round pick DJ Hayden

Hayden has had a tumultuous start to his career with the Raiders. Injury concerns are prevalent with Hayden as he has battled several since getting drafted and his well-documented heart surgery prior to being drafted. He needs a full and healthy training camp to make the most of all the time he has missed. He is competing in training camp for a starting cornerback position, but needs those important reps and learning opportunities in camp to be ready.

Rogers comes to Oakland after starting 16 games for three consecutive seasons with the 49ers. He is expected to play the slot, but depending on what happen during training camp, especially with the health and development of Hayden, he could start on the outside. Rogers is 33-years-old, so he has to prove he can play at a high level to be part of Oakland's plan. They brought him in to be a major part of a secondary that struggled last season.

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Oakland Raiders 2014 Training Camp Competition Series: Safeties

July 21st, 2014 at 11:31 AM
By Nicholas Gill

The Oakland Raiders will receive a huge boost at safety with the return of Tyvon Branch. Branch missed almost the entire season in 2013 with a broken leg. He returns in 2014 to pair with Charles Woodson. Oakland also added seventh-round draft pick Jonathan Dowling to compete with Brandian Ross and Usama Young for back-up spots.

The Raiders are in good shape at safety. Although Woodson is entering his 17th season, he remains a productive player. Branch was the best player on the defense before all of the additions this offseason and he will look to take back his place among the best in 2014. Woodson and Branch will be the starters at safety, which never materialized last season with the Branch injury. The safety position is in good hands and should be a strength of the secondary.

The training camp competition heats up for the back-up spots behind Branch and Woodson. Three players will be battling for two roster spots. Brandian Ross filled in for Branch last season, but struggled mightily. The coaching staff still started him 13 games, where he recorded 75 tackles, two sacks and three pass defenses. He has serious improvement needed in order to be a part of the Oakland roster in 2014.

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Oakland Raiders 2014 Training Camp Competition Series: Outside Linebackers Part 2

July 18th, 2014 at 3:08 PM
By Nicholas Gill

In the previous two seasons, the Oakland Raiders have only kept five to six linebackers on the 53-man roster. If those numbers remain the same in 2014, the competition at linebacker during training camp is going to be serious. In part one of the outside linebacker competition series; we looked at players that are contenders for starting spots and playing time. In part two, we will look at the players battling in camp to earn roster spots and provide depth.

The Raiders main goal this offseason was to bring in players to add competition at every position. That has been accomplished at linebacker with Khalil Mack, Sio Moore and Kevin Burnett fighting for starting roles. Behind those players, the training camp competition really heats up. Oakland has Miles Burris, Kaelin Burnett, Kaluka Maiava, and sleeper Carlos Fields fighting for spots.

Burris is the mostly likely to have an impact in 2014. Like many of the other linebackers on the roster, Burris can be used in several ways. He is an option to be the back-up middle linebacker behind Nick Roach. He started 15 games in his rookie season at weak-side linebacker and has some ability to rush the passer on the blitz. Those attributes will help him find a niche on defense. He missed time last season with knee issues which cost him some development and set back his progress. He will need to have a strong training camp in order to solidify his value to the defense.

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Oakland Raiders 2014 Training Camp Competition Series: Outside Linebackers Part I

July 17th, 2014 at 4:56 PM
By Nicholas Gill

The Oakland Raiders have made improving the linebacker position a priority the past two seasons. The have added all new pieces in that time and the team hopes to start seeing the dividends this season. With all the additions, the Raiders have built a very interesting group of linebackers that should be the strength of the defense in 2014.

 

The most important addition to the linebacker position is 2014 first-round pick Khalil Mack. The Raiders were giddy when Mack dropped to them in the NFL Draft and gladly selected him. He is going to spend the majority of training camp learning and moving around to different positions on the field to maximize his value. As long as Mack makes some strides in training camp, he is penciled in to start at the strong-side linebacker spot for the Raiders. He will get serious reps in camp to help him grow. In return the Raiders expect big things from the rookie in 2014.

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Oakland Raiders 2014 Training Camp Competition Series: Middle Linebackers

July 16th, 2014 at 11:04 AM
By Nicholas Gill

The linebacker corps may be the Oakland Raiders best position group entering the 2014 season. Nick Roach will be counted on again this season to hold down the middle linebacker spot. General manager Reggie McKenzie has built the depth of this unit on versatility. So when looking at the positions, there will be several interchangeable parts.

Roach is considered a leader on the defense and played nearly every snap in 2013. He has the confidence of the coaching staff and will be the quarterback of the defense this season. He led the Raiders in tackles with 112 stops. He contributed in so many ways including 5.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, and an interception. Not matter what defensive scheme the Raiders run in 2014; Roach will be a crucial part.

This is where the training camp competition gets very interesting. The Raiders do not have a traditional depth chart behind Roach. They have a few younger players at middle linebacker, but they are long shots to make the roster. Instead, Oakland will use training camp to prepare other players to work behind Roach. For example, Miles Burris played weak-side outside linebacker, but will get reps at middle linebacker during training camp. Head coach Dennis Allen has already begun experimenting with players at different positions during OTAs and mini-camp.

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