Posted: 8:00 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013
By Dave Halprin
Every year we like to talk to the enemy right before a game. So with the Oakland Raiders coming up on our preseason schedule, I hit up Levi Damien over at Silver & Black Pride to get his take on the Raiders.
Blogging The Boys: So, it's going to be Matt Flynn as the starter, right? What have you seen so far from him? Will he play a lot in this game?
Silver & Black Pride: Yes, Matt Flynn will be the starter heading into the season. The thing about Flynn is he won't wow you with his passes but he is fairly steady. In just the time I've watched him in OTA's, minicamp, and training camp, you can see why Russell Wilson would earn time ahead of him and not let go of it. Flynn has taken a bit of time to get into the groove of the offense, but it's because he must know it inside and out so he can outsmart the defense. This is something GM Reggie McKenzie knows from his time in Green Bay so Flynn will get a chance to learn the offense and get chemistry with his receivers into the regular season to see if he can produce the way he did in two starts with the Packers.
BTB: What's the general state of the offense? Where are the strengths, is it still McFadden?
S&BP;: The offense is very suspect. The receiving corps could easily prove to be mediocre at best. Denarius Moore is supposed to be the number one receiver but he still has lapses running the wrong routes, and dropping passes. Rod Streater is the best fit for the offense and looks most likely to prove to be the number one receiver. He is a second year undrafted free agent player. Jacoby Ford is a game breaker but has barely touched the field the past two seasons and won't play Friday after his second injury this camp. The tight end position is very suspect. David Ausberry is the starter and though he looks to be improved, he still makes mental mistakes. After him there's blocking (and ONLY blocking) tight end Richard Gordon and two sixth round rookies. McFadden has been the star of the offense every season and goes down with injury every season. Hard to be a star from the sideline. A lot of questions on this offense with a lot having to go their way.
BTB: You guys picked up former Cowboy Mike Jenkins. How has he looked, along with new/old-comer Charles Woodson?
S&BP;: Jenkins has looked pretty good. Albeit hard to judge until in a live game situation. He is pegged as one of the starters and has a pretty big chip on his shoulder about how he was ushered out of Dallas. I talked to him immediately following the Raiders signing him and asked him about how he "lost" his job and he was not happy about the phrasing of my question. He said "I don't know about me losing anything". He doesn't feel like he did anything worthy of losing his job but that he got injured and was replaced. You can bet he's looking forward to facing his former team.
Woodson has looked fantastic. He is playing free safety and there's no indication he is anywhere near slowing down. It's pretty incredible really to see a 36-year-old player do what he does. And even though he has nothing left to prove, he has yet to sit out a single practice in OTA's, minicamp, or training camp since he arrived. On top of that, his leadership and experience has been lauded by some of the young players on the team. Probably the best free agent signing this team made this off-season.
BTB: What's the general state of the defense?
S&BP;: The linebackers and secondary look very good. Two areas which were very weak and thin last season are now two of the strongest and deep areas on the team. The defensive line is another story altogether. The best player is Lamarr Houston (which all you Longhorn fans will be happy to hear). He could be poised for greatness. On the other side is Andre Carter who still has pass rush abilities but it's hard to say for how long. Inside is Vance Walker and Pat Sims, neither of whom have ever been full-time starters. Sims has been out all training camp with injury and Vance Walker may also not play on Friday because his wife just had a baby. Those two are questionable enough but the guys behind them are complete mysteries. A bunch of young unknown players who are basically warm bodies with all the injuries on the line this camp. That could get ugly Friday. Or they could discover a couple gems. We'll see.
BTB: How much will the starters play in this preseason game? Who are a couple of young guys we might not know that we should keep an eye on?
S&BP;: Sneaking in an extra question, eh Dave? Dennis Allen said the starters should play about a quarter. I would think the established starters will play a couple series and then they will work the rest of them out through the rest of the quarter.
On the offense, I would keep an eye on former Cowboys camp player Andre Holmes. He has looked very good at times in camp for the Raiders. On defense Cory Nelms has impressed at safety. Look for him to be around the ball a lot. It's hard to narrow it down too much. There are so many young unknowns who have shown flashes and we await to see how they perform in a game situation. A few other possible include QB Matt McGloin, DE David Bass, TE Mychal Rivera, RB Latavius Murray, WR Brice Butler, and LB Sio Moore.
Check out Silver & Black Pride for more on the Raiders. Thanks Levi!