A new head coach, a new quarterback and running back, sweeping changes to the coaching staff … none of it guarantees Oakland of ending its four-year playoff drought, but coming from the pit the Raiders fell into last season it's definitely a better place to start.
Lane Kiffin and Co. began to see whether the pieces all fit together when the Raiders open training camp in Napa Valley.
TIME TO STEP UP OR STEP OUT
Jerry Porter: He no longer has an enemy in the head coach or an offense that limited his skills, so there's no reason Porter can't become the receiver he thinks he is.
Oakland needs a true go-to receiver for Josh McCown and Porter can be that guy provided he keeps his head out of the clouds and in the playbook. He's a talent, no doubt, but talent doesn't always translate onto the field. Porter's time to produce is now or never.
Entering his fourth year with the team, Gallery has yet to find a starting position he can feel secure about. He's also been moved around, from right tackle to left tackle and now to left guard. All that moving hasn't helped so the first order of business should be finding his best position and keeping him there.
LaMont Jordan: He's as outspoken as they come and holds nothing back when he criticizes the offense, including taking shots at himself. But until he proves he can stay healthy for an entire season and be an integral part of the offense, Jordan's words will continue to fall on deaf ears.
His job status became a little more secure with the news that Dominic Rhodes will be suspended for the first four games of the regular season, but that still doesn't guarantee Jordan a roster spot, particularly if rookie Michael Bush is fully recovered from his leg injury a year ago.
Still, he looked raw at times last season and it's clear he's still far behind in his development. The Raiders have a defense that is near a dominant stage and getting a third linebacker to complement Morrison and Thomas Howard is critical.