The Raiders won’t have a ton of position battles when training camp begins in late July, but right tackle and backup quarterback might be the biggest.
Menelik Watson and Austin Howard shared most of the repetitions at right tackle during minicamp. The two battled last year with Watson having the edge until suffering a ruptured Achilles in the preseason and he seems to again have the slight edge.
Howard has the benefit of more experience, having started 62 games over the past four season. Watson, by comparison, has just 12 career starts thanks to missing last year due to injury.
The backup quarterback battle figures to generate plenty of training camp chatter simply because quarters always generate chatter.
The Raiders showed they want to give Connor Cook a true look when they opened minicamp Tuesday giving him some of the second-team repetitions alongside incumbent Matt McGloin. But that didn’t last long, with McGloin taking all the second-team turns the past two days.
Cook was not impressive during these past three days. His passes wobbled at times, at others they sailed and he generally did not look like a confident and accurate passer. The accuracy isn’t a major surprise since he was not a high completion percentage passer at Michigan State. .
It’s way too early to judge Cook, but he’ll likely need to make a significant jump by training camp to have a real chance to supplant McGloin as the backup.
At the two return positions, Taiwan Jones and TJ Carrie will go into camp with the best chance of retaining their spots.
Fifth-round pick DeAndre Washington has been getting work at kick returner along with undrafted free agent receivers Joe Hansley and Jaydon Mickens, both of who also got work at punt returner.
Special teams coordinator Brad Seely was somewhat contradictory when talking about how he views those spots.
“I don’t think there’s any leader,” Seely said initially before adding, ” You have to start with TJ Carrie because he’s been there on the punt returns. Then you have to start with Taiwan on the kickoff return, who did a really good job for us last year. As always, as we tell those young guys or new guys, that they have to beat somebody out if they want to get that job. We have a lot of guys working, a lot of guys working hard. We’ll see once we start playing games, who does well.”
Amari Cooper returned a few punts last year and it didn’t go all that well, but Seely wouldn’t rule out using him again if the situation called for it.
“I think we’ll do whatever we have to do to help our football team,” Seely said. “If he can help us, just like last year he had to come in there in certain situations, we played him. I think we’re also going to be smart. Obviously, he’s such a talent as a wide receiver. We want to pick and choose those spots, but he’s working and catching. It depends on the situation. If the situation arises where we need him, we’ll use him.”