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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

  • BigBenRexor

    Justin Ellis was my pick too.

  • FourMoreYears

    Power…zone…just hit somebody. It’s not that hard.

  • DutchRaid

    Yes, but you get the 1st pick in the 2nd round!

  • SlvrnBlck478

    We havn’t even started their second TC and you are declaring them busts. Give it time. They could be perennial pro bowlers or bust’s. Too soon to tell.

  • FourMoreYears

    And the only pick in the eighth round, apparently.

  • SlvrnBlck478

    7-9 is my prediction. With a lot of close games that could of gone either way.

  • SnBG

    Step up and bow to the altar of SnBG’s optimism.

  • DutchRaid

    Lol, I am too lazy to track it down…but Reggie did give his expectation in an interview for what Type of player he was going to draft with that pick (Bergstrom)…let us just say he should be disappointed so far.

  • FourMoreYears

    No one is going to bow to someone who can’t count to three.

  • DutchRaid

    Well about this time last year, we were told that Matt Flynn would be the starter and Tyler Wilson was the future of the organization…things change.

  • J Hill

    LOLOLOLOL

    Good stuff.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    That’s essentially what Cable said. More important is knowing what the guy next to you is going to do if you have to hand off your man to him or vice versa. That takes playing time together.

  • SlvrnBlck478

    zone requires smaller, quicker o-line. Power requires big road graders. Bergs was drafted for his quickness not power.

  • FourMoreYears

    Well, if he was looking for the kind of guy who can’t win a job over the worst rated lineman in the NFL…mission accomplished.

  • J Hill

    And quickly!

  • J Hill

    There was a small faction of Nix fans that were telling us he was going to be a beast right after we picked him up as an UDFA.

  • SnBG

    Huh?

  • BigBenRexor

    That wasn’t a competition issure, that was a face planting into a drained pool issue.

  • SnBG

    Wrong. The only QB not looking over his shoulder is MM.

  • J Hill

    I think the 95th overall is the point.

    Really, what is the difference between the 95th and 96th pick?

  • mikeschoice

    watching donks finally score in SB after getting thrashed 36-0 in first 3 quarters-that’s worse than our debacle against bucs

  • Ted Stosterone

    A few reasons to be excited:

    1. Schaub is likely a major upgrade at QB. That should be worth a few W’s.
    2. WRs will look like different players with good QB play.
    3. “Sweet Science” Watson is going to turn into a good tackle.
    4. “Baby Dickerson” Murray might just be primary RB by season’s end.
    5. Defense should be much improved with free agency pickups and Mack.
    6. Hayden has talent to be a great CB and showed some signs last year.

    Basically if Schaub and even a couple of these players step up and play as well as they could, the Raiders are much better than last year.

    (wipes silver and black kool-aid from top lip…)

  • DJ Johnny

    You got any Xanax?

  • SlvrnBlck478

    Exactly

  • FourMoreYears

    Missing assignments and leaving guys unblocked is one thing, but when you’re consistently getting pushed around, it doesn’t matter what scheme you’re “built for”. At some point you’ve just got to out-muscle somebody.

  • SnBG

    Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society. The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.

  • DJ Johnny

    Yeah..and the acquisition of Brisiel was a total waste….zbs guy.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    He’s keeping all of that.

  • ENGLANDRAIDER

    Allen is actually the GM?

  • FourMoreYears

    1. The same difference there is between 3 and 4.

  • J Hill

    LOL

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    That’s what Cable said. ZBS, PBS, just tke care of your man.

  • DJ Johnny

    So the koolaid is 7-9? That’s more like cyanide.

    I like fourmoreyears’s 12-4 better.

  • SnBG

    There it is. Nice post.

  • Myopinion

    At 95 he gets to call him a third round bust. Which sounds a lot better than fourth round bust when judging Reggie.

  • FourMoreYears

    Even if you want to go that route, there are 220+ players drafted every year. It’s not a stretch to expect some value for a player selected in the first half. 3rd and 4th round picks matter, you can’t just throw them away and say “oh well”.

  • SlvrnBlck478

    No. He picked the OC who wanted to run zone. RM picked Berg with that in mind. Did you follow that or do I need to break it down even more?

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    That’s pretty funny.

  • FourMoreYears

    Top 100 overall bust. Sound better for you?

  • FourMoreYears

    Haven’t heard that one before. Like it.

  • DJ Johnny

    I like the list but your # 6..? I just want to forget about Hayden. I have no faith he will ever be healthy for long enough to find out if he’s good.

    He may get some spot play here and there in between injuries I guess.

  • SlvrnBlck478

    Exactly. Glad someone else got it.

  • SnBG

    No man. It’s 8 wins or better. Nothing under that.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    George Bernard Shaw.

  • J Hill

    Exactly

  • DJ Johnny

    Oh…ok. Well that’s some diet koolaid at least. J/k it’s all good. Better than the 5-11 i’ve been seeing alot of lately.

  • SnBG

    The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised

  • SlvrnBlck478

    I’m not. Show me proof of a GM who has never missed on a 3rd or 4th rd pick.

  • 1960AutumnWind

    Watson is slated to start..
    Kasa is a 6th round pic that has a chance to make team….
    Pretty silly post man.

    Why not throw Murray in there too as he has about as good a chance as Kasa. Is butler a wasted pic too? Is the expectation that all 6th and 7th rounders must make team?

    Pick used for Flynn was a waste. Wilson was a waste. Hayden is not looking good right now but big time over reaction to call it a bust at this point.

  • DJ Johnny

    I’m optimistic about the season but i’ve been consistent in my Hayden doubts. Nothing personal against him…I just think some guys are injury prone.