Camp analysis: Defensive backs


Eighth in a series analyzing Raiders position groups with players reporting to camp Tuesday:

Projected starters: RCB Nnamdi Asomugha, LCB Chris Johnson, SS Tyvon Branch, FS Hiram Eugene. Backups: CB Stanford Routt, S Mike Mitchell, S Michael Huff, Justin Miller, CB John Bowie, CB Jason Horton, CB Darrick Brown, S Jerome Boyd.

If Johnson plays as he did after taking over for much-maligned (and deservedly so) DeAngelo Hall last season, the Raiders may have the best pair of cornerbacks in the NFL. Routt appears resigned to being a nickel back and got on Tom Cable’s bad side with some attitude issues so he’ll be watched closely by the coaching staff. Miller stepped in and played decently last season but is primarily a kickoff return specialist. Bowie was beaten often during offseason practices when Asomugha and Johnson didn’t attend OTAs. Huff could be arrested for loitering, given that he is always hanging around where plays are being made but never quite gets in on the action. Horton and Brown are the kind of physical specimens the Raiders love and hope there is a Johnson-type success story in one or both. Boyd is an intriguing conversion project, having played linebacker at Oregon, and caught Cable’s eye during the offseason.

The key battle: Mitchell vs. Eugene. The Raiders want Branch and Mitchell to be their safety tandem of the future, and claim their positions are interchangeable this year from strong to free.

What I think: A good pass rush is always huge with regard to a secondary, but it’s even bigger where the Raiders are concerned considering their play at safeties. They’re expecting big things out of Branch and Mitchell, and bottom line is the former was a fourth-round draft pick who was hurt most of last year and the latter was an out-of-nowhere draft pick that some teams didn’t have on their board until the sixth round or later. A huge gamble, but one that could change the tone of the entire defense if they’re right.

What could go wrong: Mitchell has already had hamstring issues, both in training for his predraft workout and after he joined the Raiders. Johnson was almost too good to be true last year as a 29-year-old first-time starter. If he reverts to journeyman status, it will be a long year opposite Asomugha.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • No, Rockstar, they aren’t. Care to make your case as to how the Raiders are on top of the football world, or even in the top half?

    – A true fan

  • RaiderRockstar

    whats up SouthTexas?

    long time, no see

  • i say 9 with faith….

    enough to be the division champs!


  • This place is dead. I’ll let you kool aid drinkers enjoy the only time of the season when the Raiders are in contention. Training camp. LAter.

  • Funny the Greatest Raider Receiver of All Time is a slow-footed Bilentinkoff. Funny that.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Russell: 3200 yards, 20 TD’s

    8 wins

    AFC West Champs!

    -A true fan

  • See ya Rockstar, 5:00pm in Podunk.

  • 9 probably will be enough to win the AFC west, STR. But how does that help us when we’re winning more than 5?

  • nothing much. its been awhile, i chime in every now and then to see whats good. more now that football season is getting closer.

  • Russell 3200 yards? Sure you don’t mean lbs.?

  • RaiderRockstar

    see y’all tomorrow!!!

  • Because if you mean lbs., I agree. Russell could hit 3200 lbs. by the end of this season.

    – A true fan

  • lol, helps us back to over .500 and a big fahqin boost of confidence for the players and organization.

    shutting all the fahqin media, bspn, AND raider haters the fahq up.

  • beeecham

    Good Lord, Oakcrapper – did you go to high school in the freakin’ 60s? At first I thought you weren’t as old and washed up as old Krappy, but with your corvette references, 3rd grade writing level and incoherent blog posts … you may be even worse.

    Trust me bros, I never thought I’d ever say those dreaded 5 words.

    Anyway old dude, there is hope for you. Like I’ve been instructing that fossil Krappy, there are places for people with your degenerative mental condition that you need to be. Places where bedpans come under every mattress. Where the oatmeal flows as freely as the waterfalls of Oahu. Where there is no internet for miles and miles.

    Anyway, you old dog, we’ll get to work on this right away. Today, the football blog – tomorrow, bingo night!

  • im out.

    peace raider brothers.

  • CantstandtheHaters

    oh-oh, watch out everything discussed turn into an AD bashing coupled with history lessons. again. im out

    DHB 20 cths for 4, 500 with 8-10 reverses for 5-6 first downs powering scoring drives to help us win 1-2 games. extra, mitches

  • AD sheep bashers again….

    definately out.

    peace out to the real raider brothers.

  • Seattle ranked 25 in Points allowed and 30 in Yds allowed in 2008.

    John Marshall’s last year as DC.

  • HayesDaze37

    KoolKell Says:

    Funny the Greatest Raider Receiver of All Time is a slow-footed Bilentinkoff. Funny that.


    And…we’re waiting for the point…

    Is it that we should’ve gone after the slowest WR college football? Didn’t Al just try that with a slow LB in Frantz J?

    That damn Al…can’t pick anybody right, slow of fast. Whether or not they’ve seen the field yet.

    Is that the point?

    Good one!

  • HayesDaze37

    …slow OR fast, duh.

  • Michael Vick is conditionally reinstated…Al is going to sign Michael Vick to play QB, convert Russell to LT and cut Mario Henderson.

  • DirtyRaccoon

    Was up STR, long time no read?

  • DirtyRaccoon

    I see that g@y Fu(ker is awake.

  • DirtyRaccoon

    Afternoon MR.

  • lefty12

    Seattle was 18th against the run,but 32nd against the pass.it is a certainty we will be much better than 32nd against the pass.if he(Marshall) can get our run Def. into the teens,we will have a very formidable Def.

  • Marshall…god I hope you can do better than Rob fukin Ryan!

  • beeecham

    Hey, Lady Raccoon! Haven’t seen you in here in weeks! I guess you’ve been locked in your bedroom watching West Side Story again. All that singing and dancing really speaks to you and the rest of the South Sacramento gang community, huh?

    Anyway, great to see you out and about again. You are one awesome chick!

  • Kirk

    Dakota, 322.

    You have it wrong.

    Al is going to sign Michael Vick, convert him to a wide receiver, convert Russell to left tackle, and make McFadden the QB.

  • Dwaine Board DL Coach Seattle 2008

    Seattle had 35 sacks
    Oakland had 34 sacks

  • Kirk…and then he will cut DHB before he has to pay him the $25 million dollar signing bonus because Vick is probably a better WR today than DHB will ever be…

  • HayesDaze37

    If we still need the help a week from now…and even if we don’t…

    If there’s one, ummm, troubled player I wouldn’t mind taking a serious look at, it would be WR Matt Jones.

    This guy just figured out how to play at a top level, when he let it all slip away. Twice.

    He knows he’s only going to get one more real chance to prove himself while young, and he’s going to be a financial super-bargain for the team that signs him. Low signing bonus, escalation clauses, tougher behavior clauses than others = one guy who desperately needs to not fock up again.

    Unlike our own Barret R. — Jones’ problem seems to have been immaturity, not chemical imbalances (self-induced or otherwise).

    Jones is a proven WR, and we have a team that has only one…and he’s “old” and slow to heal. He can come in and get 50+ catches right now, and be the most thankful and loyal Raider to come along in years.

    Just sayin…

    On Matt Jones:
    Jones says: “The bottom line was it was a mistake I made and paid for. Really, I can’t point the finger at anybody else but myself.”

    And Jones has tarnished his reputation severely.

    In addition to his off-field problems, Jones’ work ethic is definitely under scrutiny.

    Wright spoke with an unnamed former NFL head coach about how Jones is perceived around the league, and the review wasn’t a positive one.

    “I don’t know the specifics of Matt’s situation, but guys like him and Mike Vick — obviously, Matt’s situation isn’t as serious — but I think teams are reluctant to deal with character problems,” the anonymous coach said. “There have been guys who have come through in the past I’ve worked with [that ran into legal difficulties] who are still trying to get back in.

    “Once nobody trusts you, it’s hard to get back into the league. Another thing about Matt is he’s got a bit of a rep for being a lazy guy.”

    For Matt Jones, it’s a lot of self-imposed obstacles to overcome.

    However, at least he sounds committed to trying to change his ways.

    “I’m just sorry for making these mistakes and how everything turned out,” Jones said “I let down my family, friends and people close to me, my teammates,” Jones said. “I feel bad for my mother having to go through so much in everyday life, people saying stuff to her.

    “At the same time, all this has brought our family closer together. Everybody makes mistakes. Anybody who knows me, they know my heart and know there was never any type of problem with drugs or alcohol. I can’t worry about what other people are thinking.”

  • I hope the commish tells any team that signs Vick that if they decide to give Vick a shot and Vick screws up again, the team loses draft picks and cash.

    Didn’t the commish come out and say a couple of years ago that teams who sign these losers will also be subject to punishment if the player fuks up again?

  • Hey, maybe Jones can get Russell hooked on coke…that will take care of the weight problem…

  • lefty12

    while sacks are great,pressure is more important than sacks.pressure causes mistakes-ints,fumbles,etc.

  • HayesDaze37

    Some guys you get a feeling will straighten up (Matt Jones?).

    Some guys don’t give you the feeling they’ll straighten up (Pacman Jones!).

    Matt Jones would be a great, cheap experiment…with huge upside for the team that takes a small risk.

  • Lefty12 Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    while sacks are great,pressure is more important than sacks.pressure causes mistakes-ints,fumbles,etc.
    What???????? Obfuscation?

  • AZ Raider

    Matt Jones = too slow for AL

  • HayesDaze37

    KK — Don’t be breakin’ out those big words…

  • lefty12

    KK-you know what i’m talking about!

  • AZ Raider

    Don’t know if he’s the vetteran leader we are looking for.

  • beeecham

    Krappy is obviously still drowsy from nap time and having trouble with English. And I’m sure the bottle of Nyquil he pounded is the reason he just took a blue dump in his pants.

    I hope the old fool makes it long enough to see dinner.

  • lefty12

    i should have said “as important” instead of more important.

  • Lefty12 Says:
    July 27th, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    i should have said “as important” instead of more important.
    But what’s the point. I reported that Dwaine Board as D-Line Coach of Seattle last year had 35 sacks. The Raiders had 34.

  • AZ,

    Matt Jones ran a 4.3+ at the combine. The Ark QB flashed great speed at the combine so the Jags drafted him to become a WR.

  • lefty12

    just making a statement like you like to do.

  • AZ Raider

    I still fart on Matt Jones… Do we need another WR?

  • AS,

    He also 6’6 230, so he has the heart size & speed combo that likes so much.
    He showed talent as a WR, but off the field issues caused him to miss games and get cut by the Jags.

    Too bad, I really liked the kid.

  • AZ Raider

    You people…

    I still fart on him.

    -A true fan

  • AZ Raider

    That is a pretty good target though.

  • AZ,

    I dbt think we need another WR, especially not Jones, but I was just sharing what I knew about him.

    Let me put like this:
    I fart on the whinners, but less on Jones.