By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, June 24th, 2011 at 4:54 pm in Oakland Raiders.
Here’s hoping the Raiders open training camp on schedule July 26, because Hue Jackson is giving indications that he may rival former defensive coordinator Rob Ryan when it comes to July-August hyperbole.
Jackson spoke with Murph and Mac Friday on KNBR (the full interview can be accessed on Raiders.com) and didn’t have a lot of new information, which isn’t surprising considering the labor situation.
When asked about the three Raiders who made the Top 100 list as compiled by NFL Network (and voted on by players), Jackson said Darren McFadden, Richard Seymour and Nnamdi Asomugha were all deserving, adding, “I would have guessed the three they picked and I think they left about seven more.”
After Jackson talked about McFadden, Seymour and Asomugha, he was asked to name those who may have been left out.
“There are some players I think this season are going to have breakout seasons. Matt Shaughnessy, who plays defensive end for us, I think is a tremendous player. Tyvon Branch, who people don’t give a lot of credit to, this guy plays football the way it’s supposed to be played,” Jackson said, before kicking it into high gear.
“He plays as well and as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen play the game.”
Roll that one around in your mind for a minute. Tyvon Branch plays as well and as hard as anyone Jackson has ever seen play the game.
Keep in mind he worked in Baltimore, where Ray Lewis plays middle linebacker.
Branch is extremely fast, made a lot of tackles and could indeed be coming into his own as a safety. The interesting thing to see will be if Michael Huff departs in free agency and Branch is moved to free safety with Mike Mitchell moving in at strong safety. As yet, Branch has shown little in the way of ball skills necessary for the position the way it is played in Oakland.
To be fair, he hasn’t been asked to do a lot of read and react stuff as a deep safety.
The Raiders re-signed free safety Hiram Eugene before the lockout began, meaning it’s conceivable he or second-year man Stevie Brown could compete to be the starter should Huff leave.
Jackson, by the way, is optimistic training camp will open on time, can’t talk about Asomugha’s future (although he’d love to have all his free agents back) and when asked about the production of Darius Heyward-Bey, said the entire team needed to pick up its performance but noted, “he is definitely one of the players that needs to step up and bring more to the table . . . I think they all do.”