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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.

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • WILLY91137

    That is a terrible disease I had a cousin that had it she had a husband and two kids 34 years old she committed suicide

  • aig-raiders

    Man, just heard the saddest statement on NFLN this morning. The Donkeys had 5 losing seasons in the past 31 yrs and then they mentioned the Raiders since 2001. Crazy and sad

  • ForHundred8

    Their 2-5 Super Bowl record is also pretty sad.

  • http://batman-news.com accupolco gold aka elmo

    Buenos Días Nacíon Raderio. Ès so beautifico día ès be a Raderios fan. ¿Ès lo no so? Ès beautifico día ès be a Raderio fan.

  • J Hill

    Just for the record, who are the wasted draft picks again?

  • ForHundred8

    Tyler Wilson
    David Bass

  • BigBenRexor

    Short version: Everyone not named Sio Moore.

  • SlashNHack

    Don’t harsh my kool aide buzz, brogane!! :-(

  • http://batman-news.com accupolco gold aka elmo

    Huarterback Mateo Flynn

  • ENGLANDRAIDER

    LoL

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Not many 7th rounders make the cut. It’s more fortuitous when they do than wasted when they don’t.

  • http://batman-news.com accupolco gold aka elmo

    Yu ès lose Supremo Bola Lombardi to ès Seattle ès ès a losing sesòn. Señor Manning ès no badàss. No.

  • BigBenRexor

    Unfortunately, this joke is on us :(

  • Dan78

    Also noticed we had a Wide receiver playing QB in some games last year…..

  • J Hill

    You think Moore is a better prospect than Mack?

  • BigBenRexor

    Well I haven’t seen him play yet, so I’m reserving judgement on this rookie class. But if you want to guess on who will be the suprise cut from this years draft class i’m game.

  • FourMoreYears

    Bergs was a waste. Probably Hayden when all is said and done. *sigh*

  • IVRaider

    Rivera might be a keeper as well. But the pickings are definitely slim.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Nobody. Surprise.

  • Raider O

    Hayden
    Watson
    Kasa

  • IVRaider

    I wish he was healthy enough to run…

  • Raider O

    You mean drove by him. Injured players don’t run.

  • Raider O

    Wilson
    Watson
    Hayden
    Bass
    Kasa
    And that’s just last year’s draft

  • SnBG

    Good afternoon Raider Nation. The Kool-Aid stand will be open for 2 more hours. Get it now and we’ll throw in a little Prozac to help the pessimists among you get through your sad lives. Drink up everybody.

  • SlvrnBlck478

    Can’t really blame bergs on RM. He was drafted as zone blocking guard, Allen is the one who screwed that pick. He isn’t a waste yet, If he stays healthy and turns into a starter down the rd.

  • Raider O

    Starter?
    We signed Howard, resigned Barnes, and drafted Jackson to play OG. You only need 2 starters

  • SnBG

    YOU WILL BOW DOWN TO THE ALTAR OF SnBG’s optimism.

  • SlvrnBlck478

    Too soon on Watson, Hayden and Kasa. Wilson definitely was a waste, but Bass was a 7th rd pick. No GM is going to hit on 100%

  • FourMoreYears

    Depending on your level of optimism, he was either already losing his job to Nix before he got hurt or barely hanging on to it. Every time he’s been in a preseason game he’s been worked over by 3rd stringers and bubble guys. I suppose it’s not impossible he could have a magical turnaround but the writing is on the wall.

  • SnBG

    Agee with this. O is hatin again.

  • BigBenRexor

    That would be a suprise

  • FourMoreYears

    8-8 watered down Kool Aid.

    Come to my stand. I’ve got us as the AFC West champions at 12-4 and we’re open 24/7.

  • 909RaiderLifer

    Thanks for the offer..I have to stay true to my 5PM PDT start time…)-;

  • SlvrnBlck478

    He will probably get cut this year, but you never know how it is going to turnout. He was drafted as a ZB guard, not the power we run now.

  • SnBG

    When was Bergs drafted again? The way some sound he was a first round pick. He’s still with us and most likely will stay for awhile longer. Some folks just need to moan and complain I guess.

  • SR Raider

    It’s officially time to suspend negative opinions about the draft, FA and coaches. This team should be quite a bit better than last year, so until we know what we’ve got it’s time to just wait and see. If they bomb in week 1, we can go back to arguing whose fault it is.

  • SlvrnBlck478

    A compensation pick in the third rd. #95.

  • SnBG

    Mines real and your’s is fantasy. That’s the problem here. Some want results yesterday from a bad team and some make unrealistic predictions that only break their little hearts. Get real, get with the program and step up to the altar of realism. Where the best Kool-Aid is.

  • BigBenRexor

    Matt McGloin looks confused/concerned in the Twitter pic.
    He’s probably wondering what “CA” means while everyone else has their position next to their name. FYI Matt, CA means Camp Arm.

  • FourMoreYears

    He was drafted in the third round, no matter how anyone tries to spin it. Third round B-U-S-T.

  • SnBG

    McGloin is a fighter. He is good for this team. Competition is what players thrive on and Allen has created that type of atmosphere. I’m liking the Raiders to do well this year.

  • BigBenRexor

    Competition is what players thrive on and Allen has created that type of atmosphere.
    -
    LOL, Matt IV = Unquestion Starter before he was even issued a Jersey. Derek Carr = Unquestioned Back Up before he could put his draft cap on.

  • Raider O

    I’ll take 50%

  • SlvrnBlck478

    It was the last pick in the third rd.

  • Raider O

    Watson was a 2nd round pick that is TRYING to win the RT job in his 2nd season. Hayden can’t stay health.

  • FourMoreYears

    Was it in the third round?

  • FourMoreYears

    So if you win the Super Bowl, you don’t get a first round pick. Man, what a crappy deal.

  • J Hill

    This year?

    A surprise would have to be someone drafted before the 4th rd.

  • SlvrnBlck478

    if Hayden and Watson stay healthy, you will have 60% or 70%

  • FourMoreYears

    Steven Anthony “Tony” Bergstrom (born August 6, 1986) is anAmerican football guard for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League (NFL). He was selected in the THIRD ROUND, 95th overall in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders.[1]