What Raiders want out of mandatory minicamp


Retooled, revitalized and brimming with optimism supplied with a busy free agency period and a potentially fruitful draft, the Raiders meet for their mandatory minicamp starting Tuesday before going their separate ways until training camp.

All organized team activities and conditioning sessions were voluntary, with the Raiders at nearly 100 percent attendance.

The mandatory camp, although not in full pads, will be the closest thing the Raiders do all offseason to replicating training camp, which begins July 25 in Napa.

Five things the Raiders will watching closely over the next three days:

— Staying healthy.

Cornerback DJ Hayden spent the last two OTA periods with his right foot in a boot after rolling his ankle, and coach Dennis Allen said he wasn’t sure if Hayden would be back on the field before training camp.

It’s at least a minor setback for a player the Raiders hoped would justify his status as the No. 12 pick in the first round in 2013, only to be limited to eight games because of injury.

Other players who have been spectators or rehabbing include defensive tackle Antonio Smith, guard Lucas Nix and wide receiver James Jones. All are expected to be ready to go in Napa.

— Keeping Matt Schaub on track.

Schaub, acquired to be the Raiders starting quarterback, has seized a leadership role and is getting most of the work. Given Schaub’s run of success before last season’s face-plant, his situation in no way mirrors that of Matt Flynn, who flopped last year when given the same opportunity.

The Raiders are pleased with the progress of second-round pick Derek Carr, who could be a viable backup as a rookie. But if Carr at any point pushes for the starting job while Schaub is healthy, things aren’t going to plan.

— Sorting out the offensive line.

Allen said the best five will play, and it could be there will be four new starters other than center Stefen Wisniewski _ free agent Donald Penn at left tackle, rookie third-round pick Gabe Jackson at left guard, free agent Austin Howard at right guard and second-year player MenelikWatson at right tackle.

If Jackson and Watson don’t seize the moment, Howard probably plays right tackle, with Khalif Barnes (still taking most first-team reps) or free agent Kevin Boothe potential starters at guard.

— Identifying the next Rod Streater.

Undrafted free agents make NFL rosters every year. The sentimental favorite this year is George Atkinson III, a running back out of Notre Dame and son of former Raiders safety George Atkinson.

The younger Atkinson’s ticket to the roster would be returning kicks and covering them. As a running back, his receiving skills have been better than advertised.

— Finding a running back with low miles.

The Raiders think Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew will complement each other in terms of skill set as well as keeping one another fresh. But if one of them gets hurt or neither can turn back the clock, it gets dicey.

Second-year player Latavius Murray, Canadian refugee Kory Sheeets and returnee Jeremy Stewart will compete to be in position if McFadden or Jones-Drew falters.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer