The picture wasn’t the only thing to go, though. With
an offense that was far and away one of the worst the NFL has ever seen,
owner Al Davis made sweeping changes to his franchise in hopes of pulling
the Raiders out of their downward spiral.
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.
Robert Gallery: Same thing goes for the big man out of Iowa. Fairly or not,
Gallery has been the poster boy for everything that ails the Raiders and
it’s easy to see why.
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.
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.
Sam Williams: Injuries hindered Williams’ progress early in his career, but
after staying healthy for most of 2006, it seems the former Fresno State
standout has put that in his past.
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.