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Camp analysis: Special teams

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Tuesday, July 28th, 2009 at 9:05 am in Oakland Raiders.

Last in a series analyzing Raiders position groups with players reporting for camp today:

Projected specialists: PK Sebastian Janikowski, P Shane Lechler, PR Johnnie Lee Higgins, KR Justin Miller, LS Jon Condo. Core special teams players: LB Isaiah Ekejiuba, S Tyvon Branch, S Mike Mitchell, LB Jon Alston, TE Tony Stewart, LB Ricky Brown.

Easily the strongest three units on the team last year and the best all-around special teams play since the Raiders returned to Oakland in 1995. The Raiders not only made Lechler the highest-paid punter ever and Nnamdi Asomugha the highest-paid corner ever, but justifiably sank the most money ever into a pure special teams player in Ekejiuba. Higgins and Miller had two TDs each last year on returns. Looking forward to seeing the damage Mike Mitchell can do in this area until he gets up to speed in the secondary. You never hear from Condo, just a steady procession of good snaps and good mobility as in punt coverage. Seabass does what Seabass does. An extremely accurate kicker from 40 yards and in. Like all kickers, he falls off dramatically from long distance although he’s got more than enough leg. That was, however, supposed to be his specialty.

The key battle: Branch vs. Miller. With pretty much all key specialists virtually accounted for (other than roster jumbling positions on the line), it’s difficult to find one. Branch was considered a hard-running kickoff return specialist but never got a chance to show it because of a training camp injury and then a shoulder injury on one of his early returns.

What I think: John Fassel has some huge shoes to fill. Brian Schneider, who opted to become the special teams coordinator at USC rather than stay in the NFL with the Raiders, did the best job of any Raiders coach last season. They would have taken him back, too, even though he was one of Lane Kiffin’s guys. Fassel must work through vets like Ekejiuba and get the ear of this unit.

What could go wrong: Coverage units revert to erratic nature of previous years _ one big return per game. Huge momentum killers which have plagued the Raiders for five of the last six years.

Today’s updates

Will head to Napa later as players begin to trickle. Check here for posts if news breaks as well as my Twitter account.

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  • AZ Raider

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 2:25 pm
    Worst DT tandem in the NFL.

    ***

    yet one of the highest paid in the league? ouch!

    that one hurts…
    ……………………………………………….

    We’ll see if they still s&ck balls with Marshall.

  • http://atm Raider O

    We need a player to help us against the run. can a S be that player?

  • AZ Raider

    Maybe we just needed a coach to teach gap assignments? I know I’m being redundant, but come on REALLY? No gap assignments Rob???? Ick, that’s just wierd.

  • RaiderRockstar

    LaDainian Tomlinson, Darren Sproles & Jacob Hester combined for 372 carries, 1535 yards & 13 TD’s last year …

    Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden & Michael Bush combined for 426 carries, 1773 yards & 8 TD’s.

    ***

    SD averaged 4.12 yards per carry. Oakland averaged 4.16 yards per carry.

    so what area do we struggle the most? red zone! If Fargas can’t punch it in during training camp or preseason they gotta move this guy to third string. Right?

  • http://atm Raider O

    Rob is the worst Ryan DC by far. His father and brother are great, but he can’t coach a defense. The Browns will learn that soon. They think because of the state of our organization he can do better else where.

    Robo was the worst DC I have ever watched!!!

  • RaiderRockstar

    Vikings coach Brad Childress says Brett Favre won’t come out retirement to play for Minnesota.

    ***

    LOL!

    I bet the Vikes are p1ssed and the Packers are laughing their butts off right about now …

  • AZ Raider

    RR,

    1 mmmmmmmmillion% agree… Phase out Fargas :(

  • RaiderRockstar

    ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) Disgruntled Denver Broncos wideout Brandon Marshall missed morning practice Tuesday for health reasons.

    Broncos coach Josh McDaniels said Marshall’s absence was simply a “precautionary measure” after he was sore following his first workout the day before.

    Marshall had offseason hip surgery, but McDaniels wouldn’t elaborate whether that’s what bothered the Pro Bowl receiver.

    The mercurial Marshall has made it clear he’s unhappy in Denver. He skipped all offseason workouts to protest his contract and for what he feels was a misdiagnosis of his hip injury by the team’s medical staff.

    If Marshall were to hold out of camp, he’d be subject to daily fines of $15,888.

    ***

    LOL. this just keeps getting better, doesn’t it?

  • http://atm Raider O

    Send Fargas to Vegas, and I’ll have a Midd Eastern Gangsta take care of him. You know!! Like Walker!

    Midd Eastern Gangsta!!! LMAO

  • SnB Defense

    LT Mario Henderson is so stoked to be here, he checked in last night. 9 minutes ago

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/raiders/detail?&entry_id=44425#ixzz0Map4P7wA

  • http://atm Raider O

    We will be a top 8 rushing team! Take that to the bank!
    BOO
    Bank Of O

  • AZ Raider

    I’m drafting McFadden to my fantasy team this year, so they better be. Probably get him in the 2nd even (since everyone hates on him).

  • RaiderRockstar

    Take that to the bank!

    Bank Of O

    ***

    Bank of Omerica?

    is that the name of your business, Raider O?

    I don’t guess many people would be drawn to “bank of osama” even if it had an endless supply of cash that wasn’t borrowed from china! haha

  • http://atm Raider O

    At BOO:
    Open a savings accout, and we will give you a free AK.
    Open a checking account, and we’ll give a Russian Missile.
    Most of our investments are in Nuces and Freedom Fighters.

    BOO

  • http://atm Raider O

    Bank Of Omerica!!

    Yes!! You did it again! I’m going to use that.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Bank Of Omerica!!

    ***

    I’d open an acct at B of O for a free AK!

  • RaiderRockstar

    Jeff Garcia: “I’m not here to stir the pot. I’m here to make the position better.”

    My job is to make certain decisions hard. JaMarcus’ job is to make the decision easy.”

    ***

    ouch. sad but true. what do you say S&B? still a hater?

  • RaiderRockstar

    time to punch out.

    later guys. have a great evening :)

  • http://www.car.org KoolKell

    Where’s Jerry’s Tweets?

  • http://justwinbaby! 909RaiderLifer

    LOL…..

    Quiet in Napa….will check in later….probably to warm for JaMarcus Russell to wear a fur coat.
    2hrs ago. from Jerry’s twitter thingy.

  • http://justwinbaby! 909RaiderLifer
  • SnB Defense

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 2:58 pm
    Jeff Garcia: “I’m not here to stir the pot. I’m here to make the position better.”

    My job is to make certain decisions hard. JaMarcus’ job is to make the decision easy.”

    ***

    ouch. sad but true. what do you say S&B? still a hater?
    =======================================================
    If Jeff Garcia was 28 to 30 yrs old I could buy into all this talk. The chances of Jeff Garcia leading this team to the playoffs is marginal. If he plays for any reason other than injury…the Raiders go right back to the future and start stumbling from one QB scrub after another with no answer for the long-term.

    Everyone talks about the last 20+ years of futility. Besides coaching…look no farther than the deplorable QB situation that’s been in Oakland during that time.

    I want a QB that can play at a high level for 10+ years straight. Not a couple of years here and there.

    Can Jeff Garcia play until he turns 49?

  • http://atm Raider O

    Later RR.

    The icecream truck came by, so I Had to rush out there with my daughter before I miss it. That’s a big NO NO in her book.

    Do you have icecream trucks there, or is it called the Icecream Wagon? lol

    I’m playing Bro, and you know how much I respect you.
    Have a great evening.

  • http://atm Raider O

    We always wanted a franchise QB, we drafted a freak and a great talent, and now we want to start a 39 vet!!

  • http://justwinbaby! 909RaiderLifer

    More LOL….

    QB Andrew Walter on his place on the team: “I have no idea. Thats really something I shouldn’t comment on.”
    14 minutes ago. http://twitter.com/bydavidwhite

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Al, is going to let him twist until the end of camp, before he whacks him.

  • http://atm Raider O

    I’ll be back later tonight.
    Later Nation, and have a great evening Gents.

  • AZ Raider

    Just give me a WIN in week 1 and i wont ask for anything else again!!!!

    …until week 2.

  • big chill

    bill maher was interviewing a republican congressman and this is what he had to say…

    he was interviwing former republican congressman Joey Scarborough and he made the following statements………..

    “Not all republicans are racist, but most racists are republicans”….and Scarborough didn’t have a good comback for it………it was interesting…..

  • http://Raiders.com RaiderTW

    That’s where I got it. I won’t take credit. google Joe Scarborough & see why he resigned his office. Very interesting.