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

  • Hey Rape Van, Mista could have used your support in here the last couple of days. He has been getting bltch slapped on a regular basis maybe you could help your buddy out?

  • ForHundred8

    Re-sign Condo now!

  • PlunkforHOF

    What’s up P#1? How’s gardening?

  • MachoManRandySavage

    I’m gonna tell you why this team is going 4-12: We needed a huge upgrade on the most important position on the team: Coaching… Reg stuck with DA. 4-12 fellas, I wish we had Tom Cable

  • IVRaider

    Jepoardy w/o the BS takes about 8 minutes to play. That’s what they do on TV.

  • So you just came in here to make a negative comment about all the negative comments….got it.

  • jesusraiderjim

    Was just thinking the same thing LOL. Good segment on Guy

  • marks hair

    Lol.. they did 6 mins on our elite special teams.. smh

  • Learn something new every day….

  • plunkhead

    Great so far. lots of veggies. Few critters. Lots of red tomatos, but backed off the green this time.

  • MachoManRandySavage

    Did they get a good shot at DA’s face while Manning threw 700 yds and 7 tds on his D?

  • Arkraider

    I agree on the need to hire a CEO, but surely you don’t think he’s dealing with the NFL and the Oakland politicians completely on his own? Surely he has a staff of lawyers and advisors directing him— we hope– cause seriously, with that Dutch boy haircut no one will take him seriously unless he has a good support team behind him

  • seymour bush

    When Cable was here, the fans hated him too and wanted Jackson. And they got Jackson. And Jackson got fired, we got Allen and Cable is hoisting the Lombardi.

  • PlunkforHOF

    No ripe tomatoes yet. Heirloom zuccs are nice. Girls are about 5′ and starting to hair.

  • Señor Reggie ès querido cariño ès commodore Hallen. Ès be briliantè hombrès.

  • jesusraiderjim

    Holy Toledo

  • Cable is a huge part of that organization he walks on water in Washington state because he was born in a small town in that area. Before they win the Super Bowl he was already king of King County.

  • marks hair

    Way more Al than Reg in the highlights

  • Back-N-Black

    board’s been hijacked by a bunch of trolls. All they do is talk trash about how sorry the team is while insulting anyone who disagrees… all the while trying to convince everyone how they are TRUE fans and season ticket holders.

  • James Jones you my favorite FA pickup I enjoyed seeing you and Justin Tuck quoting Al Davis!!!!

  • plunkhead

    I imagine he does have a lawyer or three however he does not have the megabucks needed to play in the bigs.
    That may be why he has not hired any help other then rookies. I hope his attorneys are more experienced then his GM/coach
    His dad has a set of brass balls and a brain to match. Mark may want to fill those shoes but he better get some help and I imagine he is getting squeezed by professional sharks from all sides

  • I can see you are still butt hurt. Would you like a virtual hug?

  • plunkhead

    5′? You mean the green ones? black beauties?

  • Ès Supremo Bola Lombardi año ès be 2014. Oakland ès be número #1. Ès no be Denver ès no be el Patriotas ès no be Balimorès. Ès be Oakland.

  • plunkhead

    I have those long green ones and the white ones that look like flowers and the yellow hooked ones, carrots. I eat a carrot and cherry toms every morning

  • Raider O

    “Dowling, a rookie seventh-round pick, showed good ball skills in the offseason as a single deep safety”.
    I hope this ends the SS talk.

  • PlunkforHOF

    I’m optimistic about this season. I am every time this time of year. And there is a LOT more to be hopeful about going into camp. I also understand that people are tired of being disappointed. We shall see what we shall see.

  • PlunkforHOF

    All Tangerine Dream this year. No purps.

  • No they focused on the 4 wins then a bunch of old Al Davis footage then talked about Ray Guy going into the HOF

  • AutumnThunderstorm

    that’s because there, littering is a more serious crime than pedophilia and slapping your wife

  • RaiderReloader

    Its all tied together, gotta get players, get coaches who can get the most out of players, and have players that can excel.

    Til then it all looks like poo, all it takes is being weak at a few positions. A good coach can hide a few holes, but the good teams expose ya fast.

    This year we must be able to start fixing the weak links, deconstruction is basically asking for a free pass cause your year is over at the start.

  • plunkhead

    Easy, easy. DHB stretched the field and stayed healthy.
    That’s a joke by the way

  • I say 6 wins is the ceiling because of the QB and O-Line regardless if its DA or Sporano in as interim HC.

  • AutumnThunderstorm

    we are deep at WR and RB, I could see us trading one WR to Carolina and one RB to Miami

  • RaiderReloader

    Regardless of score, I hope we see some good parts appear, like Mack doing well.

    Least then we have something to build on finally, even if we are getting new gms, coaches, owners, stadiums

  • That made me laugh…and wonder what would happen if someone got caught for graffiti?

  • IVRaider

    RB might be our weakest position IMO. MJD and DMac have been injured, so has Murray. Cannot count on any one of them to have a good season.

  • AutumnThunderstorm

    Ray Guy isn’t going to the HOF, it was a hoax; I know; because CCT/OakTrib never created a post that he had.

  • plunkhead

    DUH!! That zuke comment went right over my head

  • RaiderReloader

    Having alot of them on roster and being deep at a position are 2 different things.

    alot of ??? at both

  • 6 or 7 wins and not get blown out of games stay competitive and improvements on D would make me happy. I can’t expect this patchwork O-Line to gel right away.

  • plunkhead

    The purp does not have that power punch the TD does?

  • AutumnThunderstorm

    I always will have nightmares regarding the large billboards lurking at us drivers; some dude lurking from the bridge of his nose on up; caption reading something “like be a hero, report it.” I always thought it was for child abuse, domestic violence, or sexual assault on women and children, suspected serial killers even; turns out they were just for littering.

  • We have a LB that we could trade ” Kevin Burnett”

  • RaiderReloader

    Ya, I want that feeling we had with gruden the year we were still 8-8, but we had a big win on last game and you could tell the team was taking off.

    We know its not a superbowl year, but we sure as heck better see something other than warm poo

  • AutumnThunderstorm

    Kevin and Kaelin together, Raiders make history trading brothers in the same trade deal;
    has it happened before, before color TV possibly

  • Before Elvis…

  • Yeah that is so strange isn’t it. There should be a 6 part post detailing how Al want Ray in and now he is finally in. Maybe its because he is not a 49er?

  • PlunkforHOF

    TD was hands down the fav last year. Ran out by February.

  • _Mista_

    I wish I had time to blog for 12 hours straight and then watch NFLN special on the Raiders and then do a “blog” analysis. The life of a cockroach sitting in here waiting to stalk….