The can’t-miss storylines from Raiders training camp

From Derek Carr to the defense, everything to watch out for in Napa

Tommy Call
July 28, 2017 - 7:23 pm
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The 2017 Oakland Raiders training camp is officially underway — a phrase silver and black fans have waited a long time to hear.

All the noise of a roller coaster offseason will quickly turn into the click clack of cleats and whistles echoing from Napa as the Raiders prepare to make a run for their first AFC West title since 2002.

As the Raiders suit up in Wine Country, 95.7 The Game will be on hand throughout training camp watching every move the Raiders make. Starting Monday Greg Papa, Lorenzo Neal and Bonta Hill will be live from Napa from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. talking all things Raiders.

On 957TheGame.com will have training camp fully covered with daily reports from camp.

With Day 1 officially in the books, what are some of the storylines Raiders fans should be looking for throughout the next couple of weeks?

Let's get a few of the big ones out of the way first:

1. How will Derek Carr respond to not only being the highest-paid player in the NFL, but also to the first major injury of his professional career.

Carr will be held to a higher standard now, not only because of his breakout season that was cut short due to injury, but also because of his price tag. Everyone’s eyes will be on No. 4.

2. There is no doubt Marshawn Lynch will be a fan favorite the minute he steps on the field in Napa, but where will he fit in the Raiders young and loaded backfield?

The rookie tandem of DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard proved to be effective last season in short spurts. Each back showed they can make the exciting play, but do either project to be a feature back? Right now, probably not — enter Beast Mode.

Granted, Lynch is older than his days up in the Pacific Northwest, but no one can deny his experience. Lynch is proven featured back who can do a little bit of everything for an offense; but most importantly he can provide the attitude of a proven winner in an otherwise young backfield.

The Raiders lost Latavius Murray who had a productive season for the Raiders last year. He carried the ball 195 times and  gained 788 yards while punching in 12 touchdowns.

Can we expect Lynch to carry the ball 195 times? Probably yes, but does he have to? If the Raiders can develope Richard and Washington, while saving Lynch for short yardage and high pressure situations, Beast Mode could be extremely effective.  

It should be interesting to watch the running back unit throughout camp. If Richard brings the same attitude that he brought to camp last season as an undrafted rookie, while  Washington continues to progress all under the tutelage of one best backs of the last decade, the Raiders backfield could be one of the fiercest in the league.

3. Heading into camp one of the biggest concerns to many was the right tackle position, Lincoln Kennedy told the Chris Townsend show Wednesday that this group was the weakest link on the team.

The Raiders wasted no time in firing up the competition for right tackle spot when they cut possible favorite Austin Howard before camp started, leaving Vadal Alexander and Marshall Newhouse in a two-way battle for the position. This was all decided before Pro Bowl left tackle Donald Penn, who reportedly is "unhappy" with his current contract and did not report to day one of camp.

The offensive line that boasted three Pro Bowlers and was a staple of the Raiders success in 2016 will now be a focal point in training camp. Who protects Carr is especially important to the Raiders now after investing a large amount of money into the fourth-year pro who is coming off an injury.

Other tidbits to watch throughout camp:

1. How much will John Pagano be involved? What groups will he be with throughout camp? How much collaboration will go down between him, Ken Norton Jr. and Jack Del Rio.

It will be interesting to see how the new assistant head coach/defense will be utilized throughout camp.

2. What will happen with the Raiders rookies? Where will Conley play in the secondary? If he plays on the outside, will they shift Sean Smith inside or vice versa?

We should know the type of player Conley is quickly, because the minute he arrives at camp he will be tested on all levels. Mentally by the media with questions surrounding his legal situation in Ohio.

He will then go up against Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Cordarrelle Patterson everyday in camp, this unit will push the rookies skillset to the max.

Where Obi Melifonwu fit in the Raiders secondary? Looking at him, he fits the mold of everything you would want to see in a football player. Size, speed and athleticism, but what position does he play? Is he a linebacker or a safety? Can he even play a little bit of corner? Seeing where Melifonwu lines up at camp could be telling. The Raiders could have a Cam Chancellor or Su’a Craven on their hands and that should excite the Raider Nation.

3. Lastly, something that will be watched closely is the linebacker competition. Who will step up? New Raider Jelani Jenkins had several serviceable in for the Miami Dolphins, but injuries and consistency were problems for Jenkins recently.

Cory James was a surprise for the Raiders last season, the surprise was how much playing time he received. James showed flashes, but never put it all the way together. He will compete for a spot alongside Jenkins with rookie fifth round pick Marquel Lee from Wake Forest.

What else are looking forward to seeing during Raiders Training Camp? Let us know @957TheGame on Twitter or Facebook. Tweet me directly with questions @tommy_iii.

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