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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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  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    Bo Schembechler Jackson Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:06 pm
    RR & Dakota are out buying ammo.”

    At the local Kum & Go. They “go all out”.

  • http://Raiders.com RaiderTW

    BSJ, or burying their guns in the back yard so Obama can’t take them.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Dakota/RR, do you guys already own one of these?

    http://www.bedgunsafe.com/index.html

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    I suppose Bush is to blame for all the Obama nominees that got caught cheating on their taxes too?

  • The Big Banana

    No fake FGs with SeaBass running, ok Cable? I know you said you would run that play all over again, but please. Use your brain.

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    Bush is to blame for fewer clean shaven women.

  • http://Raiders.com RaiderTW

    Dako, with all the problems in America left over from hhhmmm..someone else…is this REALLY all YOU can come up with? Obama will do just fine & the only ones saying Obama’s a “golden child” are YOU people!!

  • http://snotmerch.com/ Lynn from Snot

    No fake FGs with SeaBass running, ok Cable? I know you said you would run that play all over again, but please. Use your brain.

    ———————————————————-Let him run the option next time.

  • RaiderRockstar

    it’s pointless to argue with 1 person abouts politics on a football blog. Why bother having 5 different arguments? are we learning anything? are we changing our minds or positions?

    No…

    babble on if you like. I’m waiting for something worthwhile to respond to

    Kum & Go is a gas station. what gas station do you know of that sells ammo?

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Hey RaiderTW, didn’t the Dems control Congress the last few years of the Bush administation? I like how you simply forget that fact and lay all the blame on Bush for all the world’s problems when the Dems sat on their hands and passed nothing in Congress for years that would help the nation…I guess they get none of the blame?

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    “Kum & Go is a gas station. what gas station do you know of that sells ammo?”

    The one right down the street from Dakota’s house.

  • http://Raiders.com RaiderTW

    it’s pointless to argue when your WRONG! I’m going home now to get my popcorn & beer, I’m sure this will be good.

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    Kum and Go sells condoms too…it is a bi-partisan gas station!

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    If Danny Southwick didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Blame Bush, Cheney, Palin, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Justin Fargas, Spongebob Squarepants & Scooby Doo for all the problems Ob@ma will have in 4 years in office. It won’t make a difference. the longer you guys do that, the longer you’ll make yourselves look ignorant, even to fellow Dems …

    Barack’s daughter lost the spelling bee? GWB must have rigged the competition! LOL

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    I knew Dakota would know what I was talking about!

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    TW, I suppose you think Bush planned the 9-11 attack himself and that we never really landed on the moon, lol.

  • http://Raiders.com RaiderTW

    PLEASE Dako, you’re grasping NOW. 2yrs they controlled ONLY the house by a small margin & couldn’t change a damn thing. I’ll quote no doubt one of your heros:

    I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said.
    William F. Buckley jr

  • OAKlifer

    I thought Bush was one of our best Rs’s now every ones slamming him?!?!?!! WTF Its not like Fargas can carry da load step up people……….

  • RaiderRockstar

    Dogg: Danny Southwick is a stud. He is totally going to save BSJ’s reputation on this blog …

    well, that and the Walrus costume!

  • OAKlifer

    we never really landed on the moon, lol.

    ********
    Now that was filmed in Utah my “pop’s” was there…….

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    Dakota Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:21 pm
    TW, I suppose you think Bush planned the 9-11 attack himself and that we never really landed on the moon, lol.”

    Everyone knows it was Cheney who planned that sh1t. Bush isn’t smart enough to pull something like that off.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    Dakota Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:18 pm
    Hey RaiderTW, didn’t the Dems control Congress the last few years of the Bush administation? I like how you simply forget that fact and lay all the blame on Bush for all the world’s problems when the Dems sat on their hands and passed nothing in Congress for years that would help the nation…I guess they get none of the blame?

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Yes the Dems in Congress are the only reason Bush couldn;t put Social Security into the stock market and REALLY destroy the natoin’s future…

    Not even a wingnut like Dakota can still think THAT was a good idea…

  • http://Raiders.com RaiderTW

    Keep clutching those straws….cover me with s#!t & tell everyone I stink, basic GOP SOP! You’re better than that!

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    RR

    Just trying to lighten the mood up in here.

    Jon Alston is my Danny Southwick btw.

  • http://www.blogcdn.com/www.fanhouse.com/media/2008/04/desmond-howard-425-sm.jpg Bo Schembechler Jackson

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:23 pm
    Dogg: Danny Southwick is a stud. He is totally going to save BSJ’s reputation on this blog …

    well, that and the Walrus costume!

    ::::::::::::::::::::::::::

    Save?!?! I got no reputation to save. The Nation knows I’m a slut…

  • http://Raiders.com RaiderTW

    LMAO at OAKlifer.

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    lmao @ BSJ

  • Chris in NY

    Dakota,
    I hear you. It’s just that all the Obama bashers I know are hardcore Republicans who were bashing him for the job he was doing about 24 hours into his term. I can’t take that kind of stuff seriously. I’m actually a registered Republican but in reality a center-left Independent. Obama’s not my golden boy. But I’ve been impressed with how he handles things and that he’s finally creating some movement on health care. Which has been a disgrace for too long in this country.

    What’s wrong with universal healthcare? Why not just turn law enforcement protection, fire department services and childhood education into private enterprises where you have to have a job with a large corporation and meet a long list of criteria before you get any of those services as well. Then, if your neighborhood turns to crap or you actually have a fire or your kid has a learning disability, the private insurers will tell you tough luck, we’re not going to carry you anymore. That’s basically where we’re at under the current health care system. Why are these other services (law, fire, education), which hold up well enough, why are they basic guarantees but getting treatment for an illness is a privilege and optional?

  • OAKlifer

    that costume might save mr/beech/bobbies/troll/trooette’s mom reputation as well!!!!1 a little slimming on her……

  • big chill

    To all the idiot racist repugs……
    bush has a 17% rating among the rest of the world on how they view the united states, in Obama’s short term so far in office the rest of the world’s view of the united states is at 71%, too bad our country has to many racists in it to appreciate our Commander In Chief…

  • http://Raiders.com RaiderTW

    Kum and Go sells condoms too…it is a bi-partisan gas station!
    ——–
    Tell me when the do ab@rtions!

  • OAKlifer

    is dennis green a dem or rep????

    remember him yelling and screaming at a presser?????

    he must not be green party ehh O?????

  • RaiderRockstar

    Jon Alston is my Danny Southwick btw.

    ***

    Alston is a beast on special teams and I think Cable wants to use him as a 3rd down LB to take advantage of his speed in coverage or to blitz.

    Ricky Brown is much better vs the run. He’s a tackling machine!

  • AZ Raider

    RaiderDogg Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:14 pm
    Bush is to blame for fewer clean shaven women.
    ……………………………………………….

    LOL! Or to thank for clean shaven women ;)

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    Dennis Green is an Agnostic

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    AZ Raider Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:29 pm
    RaiderDogg Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:14 pm
    Bush is to blame for fewer clean shaven women.
    ……………………………………………….

    LOL! Or to thank for clean shaven women”

    I was wondering if anyone would pick that up

  • OAKlifer

    nice little compilation of freaked out coaches….Im starting think they are all Rep or Dems!!!!!

  • http://media-2.web.britannica.com/eb-media/63/60563-004-52A399D4.jpg Dakota

    RaiderTW Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:22 pm
    PLEASE Dako, you’re grasping NOW. 2yrs they controlled ONLY the house by a small margin & couldn’t change a damn thing. I’ll quote no doubt one of your heros:

    I won’t insult your intelligence by suggesting that you really believe what you just said.
    William F. Buckley jr
    ____________________________________________________

    TW…For your information:

    The 2006 Election Results: Democrats will Control the 110th Congress
    Thursday November 9, 2006
    Democrats will be the majority party in both the Senate and House in the 110th Congress, which will be in session from January 2007 through December 2008.

    The US Senate
    Today, incumbent Senator George Allen (R-VA) conceded to his Democratic opponent, Jim Webb, who won a surprising electoral victory by a razor-thin margin.

    The Senate of the 110th Congress will be comprised of 49 Democrats, 49 Republicans and 2 Independents, both who plan to caucus with the Democrats. Thus, the Democrats will possess a 51-49 majority in the US Senate.
    ____________________________

    LMFAO, you don’t even know when your party controlled Congress!

  • http://Raiders.com RaiderTW

    I’ve got to go home & get my beer & chips, this is going to be too good!!

  • OAKlifer

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZsGJ4EYgXkM

    WHOOPS link to last post!!!!funny stuff

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    RR

    Alston will open many eyes this season.

  • OAKlifer

    I voted for Alan Keys 8 or 12 years ago!!!!!!

  • OAKlifer

    FREE ALSTON!!!!!

  • big chill

    any news on players arrivals or anything, i’m getting that football itch we getting close to the season yeah……

  • AZ Raider

    Free Nnamdi! Says he’s wants to get a sack on Rivers on Monday Night opener. God knows Ryan would never call a CB blitz in a divisional game…

  • RaiderRockstar

    Alston will open many eyes this season.

    ***

    hopefully Heyward-Bey & Mitchell will do the same!

    there are MANY doubters …

  • http://atm Raider O

    RR,

    Kum & Go sells missiles in the midd east! LOL

    Customer:Can I have $30 on #5, that AK47 over there next to the small Missiles, and a box of ammo please?

    Worker: would you like some Ol Russian Bombs with that?

    Customer: maybe next time, but thank you for asking.

  • AZ Raider

    I hope so RR, Alston had a few whiffs last year that pizzed me off. It’s not flag football out there Jon, put some HURT into it baby!

  • http://sportmag.us/images/Lester_Hayes_November_1981.jpg RaiderDogg

    O

    Don’t buy your AK at Kum & Go. They only carry the Chinese replicas…