By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, March 11th, 2011 at 2:16 pm in Oakland Raiders.
In some ways, the Raiders are better prepared to withstand a prolonged work stoppage than a year ago given that systems of offensive and defense are already in place.
With the NFLPA announcing its attention to decertify, the labor dispute will now be litigated instead of negotiated. The process could be a slow one.
The Raiders have an unquestioned starting quarterback in Jason Campbell, and have signed more players than most NFL teams, meaning it won’t be quite the free agent scramble other teams will face when things get up and running.
In terms of player development, however, losing conditioning, minicamps, OTAs and possibly even training camp time hurts the Raiders in an area they expected to be a big reason for a step up in class in 2011.
At the close of the season, coach Tom Cable, when talking about his rookie class, could barely contain himself when thinking about the possibilities for Year 2. As rookies, Rolando McClain, Lemarr Houston, Jared Veldheer were starters and contributors so when they ended the season, it’s as if they weren’t rookies any more.
But having that baseline and moving into the second season, they could have served as young veterans counted upon to set an offseason example.
The rest of the rookie class needed the offseason even more than the big three. There was talk of Jacoby Ford returning punts, an idea which could be stalled based on the length of the lockout.
Speculation is Bruce Campbell is going to be given every chance to win a starting job at right guard or left guard. Campbell needs a lot of work and a lot of reps. In light of a potential work stoppage, it makes sense the Raiders made no move with Cooper Carlisle, who would be better prepared to play on short notice.
With Nnamdi Asomugha likely out of the picture, cornerbacks Walter McFadden and Jeremy Ware will get a chance to get signfiicant playing time after learning the hard way in 2010. Linebacker Travis Goethel won the weak side linebacker job out of camp only to be stalled by back surgery. He was looking to win it again this year.
If Michael Huff winds up signing somewhere else, any chance Stevie Brown had of making a legitimate bid for the starting job at free safety against Hiram Eugene would have been by outperforming him in the offseason and in training camp.
Young veterans are affected also. Jackson said he fully expects Darrius Heyward-Bey to become a productive wide receiver. If Heyward-Bey is smart, he’ll spending a lot of time with Campbell to be on the same page.