By Steve Corkran
Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 at 3:10 pm in Oakland Raiders.
The Raiders return to practice today after a day off. They practice today, Thursday and Friday in preparation for Saturday’s exhibition game against the 49ers.
Here’s a quick look at some of the things the Raiders hope to accomplish in practice the next few days and against the 49ers.
*Get back some of their 15 or so injured players. A large contingent of players have missed a week or more of training camp. That list includes running back Darren McFadden, wide receivers Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford and defensive end Trevor Scott.
All four of those players played key roles last season, and they are being counted upon to do so again this season. It’s not imperative that they return in the next day or so, but the Raiders would like to see them back before the New Orleans Saints game Aug. 28, given most regulars don’t play much, if at all, in the exhibition finale.
*Get a better idea of who the starting five offensive linemen are going to be. Coach Hue Jackson said the Raiders are getting close to that point. The sooner, the better, so that those five guys can get in as much time as possible as a unit.
*Get a better idea as to whether Trent Edwards or Kyle Boller is the primary backup to quarterback Jason Campbell.
This likely won’t be decided until the final exhibition game, when both figure to get a ton of playing time. Still, it’s never too early to make that decision so that player can get more reps and adjust to the fact that he is one snap away from taking over.
*Decide whether Quentin Groves or Travis Goethel is the starting weak-side linebacker. Goethel is listed as the backup middle linebacker. However, he was the projected starter at the weak-side last year until he suffered a back injury late in camp.
Groves is getting most of the snaps with the first-team defense in camp so far. However, he isn’t playing so well that Goethel can’t win the job.
*Find out what you have in second-year offensive lineman Bruce Campbell.
Campbell is back at practice after missing the first two weeks or so with a right knee injury. It still appears as if he is bothered by the knee, but the Raiders need to find out if he can start, be a reliable backup or needs another year of intensive learning.
Here’s some interesting takes from new offensive coordinator Al Saunders.
Saunders likes what he has in fullback Marcel Reece. For an idea of how he envisions Reece in this offense:
“It’s like basketball,” Reece said. “When you can match up people and match them up against people you feel like you have an advantage of, either physically, speed wise, that’s what we would like to do.”
The Raiders took advantage of Reece’s speed and route-running several times last season, his first as the starter. His history as a wide receiver comes in handy, as well.
*Saunders thinks McFadden has the potential to be as explosive as former NFL running backs Marshall Faulk, Marcus Allen and Priest Holmes.
“Darren’s a very, very gifted player,” Saunders said. “He demonstrated that last year. The thing that he has is such tremendous explosiveness. In the open field, gosh there aren’t many players that have that kind of explosive speed from a stop and a start in the open field. His potential is unlimited, I really do.”
*Saunders also thinks that receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey is on the cusp of developing into a regular contributor.
“The thing that I told him the other day, ‘I watched every single play that you have run in two years here with the Oakland Raiders and there is unlimited talent in that body.’ ” Saunders said. ”What we need to do is make sure, as coaches, we’re doing everything we can to put him in a position where he can do the things that he does best and the things he needs to learn and develop. Then, we’ve got to make sure that we spend time and attention developing those skills.”
*Follow me on Twitter for live updates from practices, games and throughout the day: @corkonthenfl