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Camp analysis: Tight ends

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009 at 11:16 am in Oakland Raiders.

Third in a series of posts analyzing Raiders’ position groups with players scheduled to report to Napa in six days.

Projected starter: Zach Miller. Backups: Brandon Myers, Darrell Strong, John Paul Foschi, Tony Stewart.

No mysteries here. Miller had sports hernia surgery in the offseason and appears to have recovered nicely and should be full-go. With 56 receptions for 778 yards and a respectable 13.9 yards per catch average, Miller became the first Raiders tight end since Ethan Horton in 1991 to catch 50 or more passes in a season.

Coach Tom Cable believes Miller’s stats can be better with the right tight end to “marry up” (Cable’s words, not mine) with him. Hence the selection of Brandon Myers out of Iowa, who in theory can be the block-and-release player in two tight-end sets while Miller does what he does best _ find open areas in the middle of the field.

It could also help Miller be more of a threat in the red zone, where the one receiver JaMarcus Russell truly trusts drops off in terms of production. Of Miller’s 100 receptions in two years, only four have been four touchdowns _ just one last season.

Strong’s strong training camp showing won him a spot on the practice squad and a late promotion to the 53-man roster. Foschi can play either fullback or tight end but will be hardpressed to make the final 53.

The key battle: Myers vs. Stewart. Myers is already under contract, according to his agent (no confirmation from the Raiders, of course), and when contact drills begin will be able to show off the blocking skills which make him a good match for Miller in two tight-end sets. Stewart is a steady veteran, the team’s player rep, and in Miller’s absence showed a good pair of hands during the mandatory minicamp and OTAs. The Raiders would love to see Myers assert himself as the second tight end, but Stewart won’t be moved easily.

What I think: With the wide receiver position sorting itself out, Miller will remain Russell’s most reliable receiver as well as a strong secondary option. When Miller signed his contract, the Raiders were a running joke among agents and front-office types because they paid him about a million more than they needed to, considering what players were paid in front of him and behind him in the draft order. Maybe they did, but turns out it was money well spent.

What could go wrong: Injuries, of course. There isn’t a tight end on the roster with Miller’s knack for getting open over the middle or with his potential to be a big part of the offense.

The Robbins interview

Caught Barret Robbins’ interview with Andrea Kremer on Real Sports Tuesday night, and it was very similar to the interview Kremer landed for ESPN the last time the former center was in recovery.

Robbins has stood up and taken responsibility before, only to slip right back into the cycle of manic depression and substance abuse that nearly killed him. You pull for him because when of right mind he seems to have a good heart. But the only proof will be when days and years pass, with Robbins staying the course and regaining a relationship with his family.

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  • jhill

    With Myers coming on board, we at least know we will see more 2 TE sets.

    I see NO reason for Cable to not mix in the shotgun formation.

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    Better pray to the lord jeeeezus, that Miller stays healthy.

  • SnB Defense

    jhill Says:
    July 22nd, 2009 at 3:29 pm
    Cutler + Tom Walsh = ????

    Cutler + that offensive line = ????
    =======================================================
    Ahhhh…simultaneous equations….

    Well, solving for “????” I believe the right answer is:

    ???? = Andrew Walter
    ???? = David Carr

    Is that the right answer?

  • Mistabrown

    AZ, hes a bigot and& a liar he needs to be addressed.

  • jhill

    LOL SnB!

  • 24

    Cutler + Tom Walsh = Bus Boy or Dish Washer

  • http://justwinbaby! 909RaiderLifer

    That fake FG is seared into my memeory, due to the fact that one of the barmaids at the local dive I used to watch the game at is a huge chefs fan, and we always gave each other cr@p during the games and had a shot of your favorite booze as a bet.

    Sadly that dive has changed hands, and it remains to be seen if the new owners will have the NFL ticket.):

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    BrownStains

    You’re a dummy and a moron. naynananayyyna.

  • SnB Defense

    jhill Says:
    July 22nd, 2009 at 3:50 pm
    Oline! Oline! Oline!

    At least 2 new starters from the end of the year, maybe 3 if one of the youngster can supplant Carlisle.

    We all know we can run block, but will this group finally give the QB time to throw?
    =======================================================
    JHill,

    The Raiders have the pieces they believe in. Coach Cable and the assistants know this team should improve. They have said they are happy with the talent and its a matter of coaching.

    Let’s give them a chance now to get this right. The O-Line should be decent, the defense has all the pieces together that they want and the skill positions are loaded.

    Its about having a solid camp and having some spirited ocmpetition.

  • holla4LosT

    Post #3 – Terry Kirby

  • AZ Raider

    Jhill,

    He will. I think Cable has more football upstairs than people give him credit. I liked the play calling. he mixed it up pretty well. WAAAAYYY more unpredictable than Kiffin FOR SURE!

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    I can’t see any reason for Mario Henderson to regress.

  • AZ Raider

    Well, I take that back… Who’da thunk a 75 yard FG try?

  • jhill

    That year set us back so far, and it is ashamed that Art Shell had to take the fall for that inept staff. I don’t know WTF he was thinking when he put that staff together. 3 Oline coaches that didn’t agree on one technique? An OC who had been out of football for how long? Talk about taking 3 steps backwards!

  • 24

    I don’t blame the offensive line for the running game. They deserve blame for pass protection but I think Fargas makes the line look bad and considering he starts most of the time, it makes sense. The offensive line looks incredible when McFadden and Bush are playing. Gee…I wonder why? Its amazing what a good running back can do behind a good line compared to an average one dimensional back.

  • 24

    Shell was also out of football for awhile at that point as well I believe. Overall…it was just a bad hire to begin with and I don’t know what Al Davis was thinking. If AD was truly regretful of firing Shell to begin with, he wouldn’t have waited so damn long to re-hire him and make amends. I just think he ran out of options and used that as an excuse for hiring him.

  • 24

    Mike Shanahan will coach the Chargers in 2010. You heard it here first.

  • http://justwinbaby! 909RaiderLifer

    When Cable was the OC at UCLA, they lit it up…

  • jhill

    Your “change in attitude” is really catching me off guard SnB, lol. Everything is rosy for you now that camp is approaching?

    I know the coaches “think” they have the pieces in place but the fact is this brand new offensive line is going to need time to gel, right? A new C, and two new bookends from this time last year?

    Pass protection will be everything!

  • http://justwinbaby! 909RaiderLifer

    new post!

  • SnB Defense

    That Shell year was a true disaster. The O-Line was just dreadful….dreadful…

    I also think that experience ruined a young QB that had some promise. Now Walter just needs a new start

    Why is he still on the roster with 6 days till camp starts?

    The Raiders really have it in for this kid. Even had him as the 4th string in 2007. What team has a 4th string QB?

    Let the kid go already. He deserves a chance to restart his career

  • http://atm Raider O

    AZ,

    LMAO @101

  • AZ Raider

    I’m not as worried about the Oline as I was in week 2 LOL. The end of the year there, they all held up pretty well, and Russell was getting some time. Just no recievers getting open till JLH and Chaz got the starting spots. There were some snaps in both the TB game and Texans game that Henderson looked ALL PRO! FA REAL TOO!

  • AZ Raider

    Whats up O.. :) haha!

  • http://atm Raider O

    New post AZ.

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