Raiders training camp outlook: Cornerbacks

            One story in a series, looking at position breakdowns for the Oakland Raiders, who arrive for training camp in Napa, CA, on July 24. Today – a look at cornerback:

            This position is a "good news, bad news" scenario for the Oakland Raiders.

            The good news is that they have two of the best set of cornerbacks in the NFL in Charles Woodson and Phillip Buchanon. The bad news is that those two individuals played a combined 14 games last season. Woodson missed eight games with shoulder and leg injuries. He was also absent from the Pro Bowl for the first time in his five year career.

            Buchanon, who Oakland selected with the 17th overall pick in the 2002 draft, eventually supplanted Tory James as one starting corner before landing on injured reserve for the final 10 regular season games plus the postseason.

            The Raiders are facing a murky situation with Woodson, who enters the final year of his contract. When healthy, Woodson is a premier player at his position. The Raiders, however, cannot be totally blamed for being hesitant to open their wallets for a contract extension since Woodson has experienced consecutive injury plagued seasons. If Woodson is healthy, one of two things could happen. Oakland would either granted Woodson an extension or he could price himself out of the East Bay.

            Oakland views Buchanon in much the same mold as Woodson, a premier corner who can shut down opposing receivers. Buchanon's return, however, would bolster the Raiders in both the secondary and as punt returner (more on that later).

            The Raiders also drafted Nnamdi Asomugha (California) with one of two first round selections. Asomugha is versatile enough to play safety but will likely push Terrence Shaw for time in the nickel defense. Shaw and Clarence Love performed well as injury replacements last season. Shaw can be a capable backup at safety as well.

            Vince D'Adamo can be reached via e-mail at vdad7@yahoo.com

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