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

    Lol, I love how sensitive you libs are about your current administration…you can all sense how tentative it is and you all know in your heart of hearts that Obama is all talk and can’t produce, just like when he was in Congress…

    Congress senses it and now you do too, lol. The guy can talk your ears off, but will come up short on all his promises. But just keep blaming Bush for it all if it makes you feel better, lol.

  • bobertsIV

    WOW,
    The Wally Pipping neds to comemnce I see….

    First of all Why are all of you “raider” fans in here aruging over who’s Precious little party is cooler than who’s… You punks should wake up and smell the coffe usaaly I run my mouth but heres the truth!!!

    Regardles of political party or prez or goverment…we as a whole have all but deystroyed this planet from all the natrual resources to filling up caynons with trash if you “really” hoped for you r childerens future you wouldnt be wasting time slap diking around with internet buddies while your fids keep using the garbage disposal where you thik that shiiit goes???? any geusses???? White man stole this land and in 200 short years has turned itinto to the valley of death!!! “This aint a mecca man this place is Fu@ked”~Tim Armstrong Rancid

    Think believe become!!! POP A PILL OR TWO ADAY KEEPS THE PARTIES AWAY!!!!

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

    AZ

    Alston added some muscle but hasn’t lost any speed. I expect him to fly to the ball and lay some people out.

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

    see you guys later!

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

    Chris in NY Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:26 pm
    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?

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

    PREACH!

  • AZ Raider

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:36 pm
    Alston will open many eyes this season.

    ***

    hopefully Heyward-Bey & Mitchell will do the same!

    there are MANY doubters …
    ……………………………………………….

    don’t know about eyes but Mitchell better open up some REM sleep cycles in the secondary, and DHB better open up a can of Whoop AZZ in the opener!

    1st play of the season? F&ck it! Play action Deep Post to DHB! Catch it! Catch it! Ehhhhhhh, CATCH IT!!!!!!!

  • OAKlifer

    big chill Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:34 pm
    any news on players arrivals or anything, i’m getting that football itch we getting close to the season yeah……

    ****************
    HERE YA GO!!!!!!

    bydavidwhite~
    Early birds include Chaz Schilens and Chris Johnson. The offseason is officially over.

  • OAKlifer

    now thats good news to guys that need some work are already there and ready to go!!!!!!

    Atta boy Chaz
    Atta boy Chris!!!!!

    PLAYOFFBOUND!!!!!11

  • RaiderRockstar

    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…

    ***

    we need Nnamdi in coverage!

    blitz Routt, Mitchell, Alston, Burgess, Ellis, Scott, etc

  • OAKlifer

    Hey bobby missed ya earlier bud hows it goin????

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

    Victor V!codin is in the house! Or is it Harry Hydrocodone?

  • OAKlifer

    big chill Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:34 pm
    any news on players arrivals or anything, i’m getting that football itch we getting close to the season yeah……

    ****************

    Jerrymcd~
    Quiet in Napa . . . will check in later . . . probably too warm for JaMarcus Russell to wear a fur coat.

    LOL at Jerry but thanks man we love it!!!!

  • Florida Pete

    did chris johnson keep chaz out of the building???

    did chaz give chris a head fake and slip through the door???

    we need details!!!!

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

    Mr53(Thomas Howard)

    I’m headed down 880 right now. Napa here I come

    44 minutes ago from UberTwitter

  • AZ Raider

    RaiderDogg Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:40 pm
    AZ

    Alston added some muscle but hasn’t lost any speed. I expect him to fly to the ball and lay some people out.
    ……………………………………………….

    I hope so… i’m more exceited to see us blitzing this season. Rivers, Cassel, and Orton wont have 5-6 seconds to throw as they have in years past. Nnamdi says Marshall has a cr@pload more blitz packages they are implimenting.

  • big chill

    Thanks

    OAKlifer

  • Florida Pete

    and Mad Dog 20 20

  • bobertsIV

    Dogg, and sflifer,

    good to see you guys hagin on my words I should get post of the day recondamation!!! come on I have called out all the politicaining punks that all sound like thier leaders ohh hwait wannabe hands out the awards and he bleeds RW&B LOL @ him! I bleed S&B

  • AZ Raider

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:43 pm
    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…

    ***

    we need Nnamdi in coverage!

    blitz Routt, Mitchell, Alston, Burgess, Ellis, Scott, etc
    ……………………………………………….

    You sound like Rob Ryan!! LOL

    If Nnamdi tells me he wants to blitz, I draw somthing up for him, and let it happen to Rivers :)

    Don’t need him in coverage if he’s hitting the QB in the back! Besides, no one even looks to his side anyway, how would they see him coming?

  • OAKlifer

    yes thanks mad dog 20/20

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

    RaiderTW Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:28 pm
    Kum and Go sells condoms too…it is a bi-partisan gas station!
    ——–
    Tell me when the do ab@rtions!

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

    Statistics show that more ab@rtions are performed in “red” states where sex ed is frowned upon and the rednecks think abstinence is the answer.

    Also, these are the same states that lead the nation in number of murders committed with guns that are supposedly for “self-protection”

  • OAKlifer

    Don’t need him in coverage if he’s hitting the QB in the back! Besides, no one even looks to his side anyway, how would they see him coming?

    AMEN!!!!!!

    now thats the kinda politics im down wit!!! LET Nnamdi smack the hell outta the mouth from the south and keep him shut up!!!! Nnamdi has 5 years of losing and anger to take out on these punks!!!!

    FREE NNAMDI!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bobertsIV

    well they just kicked in….and when I say me I dnt mean the prezadential debate I mean THEY!!!!
    So off to nappa!!! me and the “insider” has some work to do getting ready for a big week I’ll be tweeting from Camp also!!! FOLLOWME

  • AZ Raider

    Oak,

    It’s not so bad being a Raider fan knowing there are guys like you still out there LOL!

    FREE NNAMDI!!!

  • RaiderRockstar

    ohh hwait wannabe hands out the awards and he bleeds RW&B

    ***

    Bobby: so you can’t bleed red, white and blue Monday thru Saturday and Silver & Black on Sunday?

    what kind of country are we living in?

    Free America!

    you want an award Bobby? you get the award for best mullet in Alameda !!! you crazy whacked out hippee …

    Bobby, you’re the mayor of Whackville. congrats

  • OAKlifer

    farewell yee bobbyV!!!!!!
    What a lush!!!!!

    PLAYOFFBOUND!!!!!!

    I have been waiting all summer for this!!!!!!! here we go!!! players rollin in coaches talkin to the media contracts being anounced as Hayes would say MAN ITS A GOOD DAY TO BE A RAIDER FAN!!!!

    PLAYOFFBOUND!!

  • http://atm Raider O

    Dogg,

    That’s true!! I should go to Liquir & Guns!! they have the Russian AKs!

  • Chris in NY

    Thomas Howard is going to be a Manimal if they let him loose as a blitzer. Not many non-Raider fans know this guy yet. But if they utilize his athleticism as a pass rusher he’ll be among the league leaders in sacks. Book it.

  • RaiderRockstar

    You sound like Rob Ryan!!

    ***

    AZ: ouch! insult of the day!

    I know you guys don’t agree with my polical rants, but to compare me with Rob Ryan?

    thats a low blow … thats cold!

  • Chris in NY

    Also, I’ll take Alston over Brown.

  • OAKlifer

    AZ Raider Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 1:57 pm
    Oak,

    It’s not so bad being a Raider fan knowing there are guys like you still out there LOL!

    FREE NNAMDI!!!

    *****************

    No prob AZ I just want us to get back to basics SMASHMOUTH We are on the right track I think it was you always sayin we set up the last few years with skill Positions now we will work on D and the Lines it cant happen pover night!!! But the proofs in the pudding the BEST corner in the leauge could have went any where and he chosse to stay home !!!!

    WE WILL RISE!!!!!!!

    PLAYOFFBOUND!!!!

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

    O

    You can fill all of your Russian AK needs at the local Wal-Mart.

  • beeecham

    Man, Oaky, you’re pretty cool for an old dude! You kind of remind me of my uncle who’s always locking himself in the garage. Then when we go looking for him he’s always got his head stuck in a trash can or old tire.

    I’m sure you and your high school chum Krappy have a lot of cool stories from the 50s and 60s. I’m guessing you crap your drawers as much as he does as well, which I’m sure plays out a lot better at your gas station that it does when he’s wandering through the Arby’s drive thru.

    AZ you’re kind of cool also, although being a redneck from Arizona must have its disadvantages. I’m guessing spelling wasn’t very high on your momma’s “things to teach my inbred child” list.

    Training camp rules!

  • AZ Raider

    RR,

    I’m sorry bro, you know I’m just blabbin Raiders wit ya! I didn’t mean anything by it…

    B U T…..

    Rob Ryan never blitz, and that just sounded like what he might have been thinking too.

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

    Chris in NY Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 2:01 pm
    Also, I’ll take Alston over Brown.”

    Chris has seen the light!

  • Chris in NY

    Anybody else want to see Jeff George get a look in camp? Gotta love a good story. It’d give the BSPN clowns another good chance to write us off and mock us. Then, when we turn it around in 2009, it’ll be extra sweet to wipe the stupid grin off clowns like Cris Carter, Schlereth and Trey Wingo.

  • RaiderRockstar

    can Stanford Routt cover Chris Chambers or Vincent Jackson? I know CJ can handle one of them …

    What if it’s a screen pass to Darren Sproles on Nnamdi’s side and he’s not there?

    I don’t know about blitzing the best man-to-man corner in the league. If he gets punished (injured) inside by a tackle or fullback, we’ve really limited our defense!

  • RaiderRockstar

    Rob Ryan never blitz, and that just sounded like what he might have been thinking too.

    ***

    I want to blitz! I just don’t want Nnamdi to be the guy …

  • http://Raiders.com RaiderTW

    In Denver we have a store called the Liquor box! hahaha

  • AZ Raider

    beeecham Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 2:03 pm
    Man, Oaky, you’re pretty cool for an old dude! You kind of remind me of my uncle who’s always locking himself in the garage. Then when we go looking for him he’s always got his head stuck in a trash can or old tire.

    I’m sure you and your high school chum Krappy have a lot of cool stories from the 50s and 60s. I’m guessing you crap your drawers as much as he does as well, which I’m sure plays out a lot better at your gas station that it does when he’s wandering through the Arby’s drive thru.

    AZ you’re kind of cool also, although being a redneck from Arizona must have its disadvantages. I’m guessing spelling wasn’t very high on your momma’s “things to teach my inbred child” list.

    Training camp rules!
    ……………………………………………….

    Hey, look right there!! See it? Beeeech said something about football!

    You heard it here first folks! Beecham said “training camp”!

    I’m impressed!

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

    RaiderRockstar Says:
    July 28th, 2009 at 2:04 pm
    can Stanford Routt cover Chris Chambers or Vincent Jackson? I know CJ can handle one of them …

    What if it’s a screen pass to Darren Sproles on Nnamdi’s side and he’s not there?

    I don’t know about blitzing the best man-to-man corner in the league. If he gets punished (injured) inside by a tackle or fullback, we’ve really limited our defense!
    ……………………………………………….

    RR,

    You know we’re cool right? Good, but I’m gonna stick with my gut and Oak on this one. Send him! He wants it MORE! Take it out on Phillip River Nnamdi!

    FREE NNAMDI TO BLITZ!!!!!

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

    RR,

    Remember Woodson? Well he was the best CB in the league when we had him. We blits him once and it created an entire dynasty and an NFL rule change. But, he got there unscathed and caused a FUMBLE!

  • http://Raiders.com RaiderTW

    The 2006 Election Results: Democrats will Control the 110th Congress
    which will be in session from January 2007 through December 2008.
    ——————
    OOOOhhhhh, so blame the GwB f#ckups on the Dems because they were there for a WHOLE yr during the Bush admin! You got me there, Dako!!!
    ———————-
    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.
    ____________________________
    Got me AGAIN!!! MAn that’s controll!! How did bushie f#ck up the USA with such a Dem grip on things?
    —-
    LMFAO, you don’t even know when your party controlled Congress!
    —–
    Well Dako, I guess it’s because I don’t read newspapers, ya got me! I consider you more intelligent than you’re showing here, Dako. You’re pulling on the bare threads & hope I’d forgotten the last 8yrs. All I’m doing is supporting a Pres that I couldn’t since 2000, I thought you did too, we’re all in this together.

  • AZ Raider

    AFC West:

    1. Chargers (10-6)- Good running back tandem, great passing game, great O-Line, outstanding defense though a questionable secondary. Norv Turner keeps them from being a 12-4 team.

    2. Raiders (7-9)- Great running game, still questionable passing game and O-Line. Worst DT tandem in the NFL. Great pass defendng but not run stopping LB. Possibly the best corner trio in the league. Safety still questionable.

    3. Broncos (5-11)- Way to many changes for this team to get everything right in one year. Next year they could be dangerous though.

    4. Chiefs (2-14)- Exact same as Broncos except they have a much worse roster.
    ……………………………………………….

    Good read Dogg, thanks… 9-7 though, it must be a typo LOL.

  • RaiderRockstar

    Nnamdi will make something happen in the backfield against SD on MNF and the refs will screw us and we’ll ultimately lose the game?

    i’ll pass. send Mike Mitchell!

  • RaiderRockstar

    Worst DT tandem in the NFL.

    ***

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

    that one hurts…

  • AZ Raider

    AFC West:

    1. Chargers (10-6)- Good running back tandem, great passing game, great O-Line, outstanding defense though a questionable secondary. Norv Turner keeps them from being a 12-4 team.
    ……………………………………………….

    I’m not the only one who thought Norv was a terrible HC. Stick to DC buddy, you can even come back to Oakland if you need a job after this season. :)

  • AZ Raider

    …OC, stick to OC. ooooooops.