Optimism abounds as Raiders set to open training camp

Filed for print . . .

Year 3 of the Reggie McKenzie/Dennis Allen regime finds the Raiders with their fiscal house in order, an upgraded roster and expressing the confidence of a playoff contender.

Now all they have to do is win.

With owner Mark Davis espousing a “no excuses’’ mantra, the Raiders report to training camp Wednesday at the Napa Valley Marriott. They’ll go through physical exams and meetings Thursday before practicing for the first time Friday at 3 p.m.

“I think we’ve got some football players,’’ Davis said. “At that last mandatory camp, it looked like we had a team.’’

It’s a team that will be on a tight schedule, with Allen having only 13 training camp practices to acclimate 41 new players on a 90-man roster to systems of football on offense, defense and special teams.

The Raiders will hold their last practice in Napa on Aug. 11, the travel to Oxnard for joint sessions with the Dallas Cowboys on Aug. 12 and 13. Following their preseason game against the Detroit Lions, they return to the team facility in Alameda.

During that time, the Raiders will adjust to a new starting quarterback in Matt Schaub, rebuilt offensive and defensive lines and an expectation that the 4-12 records of the past two seasons will not be acceptable.

Allen even wrote a letter to season ticket holders promising better days ahead.

“Step by step, we are building a smart, tough disciplined football team that will play this game with the passion and energy the fans deserve,’’Allen wrote. “Reggie McKenzie and our personnel staff have done a tremendous job bringing in players that fit the vision and goals of our organization.’’

Allen concluded the letter by saying “We are building a team that you can be proud of in 2014 and many years to come.’’

In trading for Schaub and signing veterans such as defensive linemen Justin Tuck, Lamarr Woodley and Antonio Smith, offensive linemen Donald Penn and Austin Howard, running back Maurice Jones-Drew and wide receiver James Jones, the Raiders succeeded in bringing in self-starters who are serous about their craft.

Schaub, who would probably have been released by Houston after a poor 2013 season, was acquired for a sixth-round draft pick Aug. 23 so he could get a head start learning the system and hit the ground running when training camp begins.

“If they believe in him as much as they did, then it was a smart move to trade for him and get him in here early instead of going through free agency and losing that time,’’ Davis said. “I think that was an effective move. I’m all for it. If it works, it’s great. You’ve got to have a quarterback.’’

The flip side of all the new faces in free agency is those players were allowed to walk away from their teams, or in the case of Penn, released.

“It’s fuel and motivation,’’ Penn said. “We’ve got a lot of players with chips on our shoulders.’’

It’s a formula the Raiders used with success from 1998 through 2002, when players considered past their prime such as linebacker William Thomas, wide receiver Jerry Rice and linebacker Bill Romanowski came aboard to put exclamation points on successful careers and contributed to teams that won three straight division titles under Jon Gruden and Bill Callahan.

During the offseason practices, both voluntary and mandatory, Allen drew upon the Raiders’ tradition more than at any time in the previous two seasons, having former players speak to the team in hope so rekindling a spark and to help provide the organization with its first winning season since 2002.

After going 8-24 in his first two seasons, the lowest winning percentage over his first 32 games than any coach in franchise history, Allen believes he has an even playing field in terms of depth and roster talent.

There is also the presence of rookie linebacker Khalil Mack, whose play in the non-padded offseason workouts was impressive. He leads a rookie class that includes quarterback Derek Carr, who ideally would learn behind Schaub this season, and guard Gabe Jackson, a third-round choice who will compete to start on the left side.


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • SnBG

    No man, it’s Bona Fide realistic Kool-Aid. Not that high 12 wins false hope slop some are pushing.

  • 1960AutumnWind

    Yes we can. DA was a rookie defensive minded coach and he did not make that decision alone.

  • DJ Johnny

    You’re confusing me on which kool aid stand to go to. Screw it..i’ll try both out.

  • SnBG

    Like I said, you may be proven right or pleasantly surprised. Nice gig if you can get to be negative and come out on top.

  • 1960AutumnWind

    Do you seriously believe Allen picked an OC that led to an entire system switch in isolation? That was a big decision that had personal ramifications. You don’t do that with a rookie HC with a defensive background.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    But it’s worth remembering a defensive minded coach isn’t scheming in a vacuum. All his time is spent countering various O schemes. And vice versa, obviously.

  • 1960AutumnWind

    Sure but would Reggie let DA pic an OC in a vacuum that would affect team personnel like that? If he did it is still his fault for letting him but I am sure he was in on it based on his comments after it was done.

  • FourMoreYears

    Look man, if you’re gonna drink Kool-Aid, do you want to taste the water or do you want to taste the sweet? And what’s sweeter than an AFC West championship?

  • FourMoreYears

    Show me a GM that says a 4th round pick doesn’t matter.

  • FourMoreYears

    That’s it. You can make it as complicated as you want but football always comes down to blocking and tackling.

  • ForHundred8

    I thoroughly enjoyed watching that game.

  • While I can agree that Schaub is an upgrade to our QB situation….its like saying a douche is better tasting than a shlt sandwich. We were dead last in passing last year with one of the worst QB’s to ever play in the NFL (Pryor)

    I love the WR’s yes I can get on board with that. I love Mr Murray and have huge expectations for him. Yes the defense is improved at all three levels.

    DJ Hayden is a wasted draft pick period

  • Raideraholic

    I have to say that Q and A with Mark Davis is a pretty good read. Mark is a lot smarter than his galumpki haircut makes him look. I agreed with basically everything he said. Very realistic and I like that he is not looking for the Raiders to be “good” but win the super bowl again. The only thing I disagreed with in the interview was when Mark said the Raiders poor win/loss record had nothing to do with no new stadium deal. Sorry Mark, it has at least a little to do with it.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    I’m a little leery of that silver kool-aid.

  • 1960AutumnWind

    Good post. Even the Hayden part. I want to get more info before I decide he is done for the year.

  • MuthaFknZeus

    So what are some good twitter handles to follow for training camp? I just made an account souly for the purpose of following raider news and what not

  • SnBG

    I guarantee my product, you man, can only give out fantasy Kool-Aid.Maybe we will call yours Doc BEELZEBUBS nightshade Kool-Aid

  • 1960AutumnWind

    The football going past Manning was a special moment.

  • FourMoreYears

    Doctor Beelzebubs Nightshade Kool-Aid sounds like a perfect drink for Raider fans.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    I hope you utilize dynamics more in your musical style than you do in your verbal style.

  • 1960AutumnWind

    Bair’s, Tafur’s, Jerry’s, Corks for Camp, Levi’s from SBP are my main ones.

  • SnBG

    That’s a fair point. I like your thoughts.

  • Twinkle

    Ummm we travel some 36’000 miles with any teams toughest schedule in years with a rebuilt team playing in the AFC West and some clown is predicting 12 wins? Well I love me some optimism but really?

  • 909RaiderLifer

    They must have drove Hayden on a golf cart in a back entrance, rather than have him hobble past the media horde….

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    There’s so many nuances and permutations yo schemes on both sides of the ball that none of it is near as cut and dried as we like to make it.

  • BigBenRexor

    Damm, we have to play the AFC West again? NFL really throwing us for a loop on that one.

  • SnBG

    Don’t buy Fourmore’s Kool-Aid. His real name is Jim Jones.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    And Cork retweets all of Jerry’s anyway, if you want to simplify. I use Cork and Tafur primarily, with a large dose of Levi. When things are hopping, I’ll open the others. But I’m on a computer.

  • DutchRaid


  • MuthaFknZeus

    Awesome! Thanks guys

  • Dan78

    I think he was delivered by FedEx sometime in the AM covered in bubble wrap…..

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    No Dakota. There is.

  • SnBG

    Hey man, lets walk on some clouds.
    A pessimist sees only the dark side of the clouds, and mopes; a philosopher sees both sides, and shrugs; an optimist doesn’t see the clouds at all — he’s walking on them.

  • SnBG

    You sound like Yoda. You do.

  • SnBG

    Who paid the shipping?


    1. Schaub is an upgrade but that won’t count for much unless he has someone to throw to. We should have gone for a go-to receiver–preferable Watkins who could end being a great player.

    2. The receivers are likely to look pretty
    much the same.

    3. Based on what?

    4. He might be the primary sooner than you think although McFadden could have a good year if they run him like Cable and Hue did.

    5. See #3 and quit the wishful thinking.

  • SnBG

    True. It does sound good.

  • Ted Stosterone

    Injuries are one thing—not sure about Hayden there—but I think he showed nice flashes in coverage. He’s going to be pretty good if he can stay healthy.

  • PlunkforHOF

    Way to be Ted

  • PlunkforHOF

    Dickey’s BBQ for dinner… Yum.

  • Dan78

    Some corporation called Made in China…..

  • Raider O

    So our 1st and 4th round picks are a waste and our biggest FA signing are a waste but not the 2nd round pick who has not started yet and started playing football 2 years before the draft? And you think my post is silly?
    A 2nd round pick that can’t start on a team that lacks talent us a waste.

  • r8dercain

    its funny how he mentions William Thomas but does it mention Rod Woodson who was very instrumental in turning our season around when we were 4-4 an could have went in the toilet

  • r8dercain

    but instead that was the beginning of a 7 game winning streak of our last 8

  • FourMoreYears

    Do you really think all 7 teams we have to play from the AFC and NFC West have stayed the same or improved from last year? At the very least one of those teams has dropped off, and likely more.

    Injuries happen, and can change the whole course of a season for even the best team. Chiefs played how many backup quarterbacks in a row last year?

    You know Tarver loves to blitz. If our defense becomes a sack monster and we get 2012 Schaub and we stay healthy and catch a few lucky breaks along the way…why not?

    You remember the 15-1 Packers? That one loss came from the Chiefs who were terrible that year. Any given Sunday…

  • Twinkle

    You are one of my favorite posters dude but we still have to read the scoreboard.Our D is a sack monster.It has been set up to be exactly that and it will be.We will lead the league in terrorism.Fools in here think that Woodley is done?Our secondary just has to be somewhat able and this is the best D the league has seen in a long time.We have QB’s and OLinemen up the wazoo but the kicker is that DA realizes that we must have an extra day on east coast trips.We are gonna kick some a$$.

  • Twinkle

    Hey fools…….this just in…..Woodley is terrorising our QB’s.Our D is ready right now.This D could be one of the best ever……………..Lammar you are still a monster……you terrorized us for years and you are still the most dominating D Lineman/LB in football.And you are wearing the S&B……..pinch me please I’m dreaming