With the preseason training camp set to start in Napa, California this Friday, July 25th, the Raiders are looking to finally put the pads on and make their final adjustments.
Putting the pads on will be the biggest part of preseason training camp for Oakland considering the depth at linebacker. Defensive coordinator, Jason Tarver, has his work cut out for him to set three starting linebackers with the amount of talent the Raiders have at the linebacker position.
After the training camp this past May, which was helmets only, it was hard to gauge which linebacker was most prepared. However, it seems that so far, Tarver is most impressed with Khalil Mack and his ability to withstand so much of what they are throwing at him without panicking or giving up. Mack is an all-around athlete who is willing to play anywhere: whether his hand is on the ground or he’s in a two-point stance, he just wants to find the ball and put whoever has it on their back. Tarver said he was looking forward to gaining the full perspective of what Mack has to offer this week when the pads are on.
When it comes to the rest of the linebackers the real big question is Miles Burris. The Raiders have such depth at linebacker, especially now with Mack joining the squad. Both the Raiders’ 2013 leading tacklers are linebackers, Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett, and that’s not mentioning Sio Moore who is coming off of a promising rookie year with 50 total tackles, 38 solo tackles, 4.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.
Where will the recovering Burris fit into this equation? After the May training camp, Burris spoke to media and said he was feeling great and is looking forward to working and competing with Mack and the rest of the linebacking crew with pads on.
It could go either way. Burris could be fully recovered from his season-ending knee injury as he is saying and return to his 2012 rookie season numbers, which are as promising as Moore, with 65 total tackles. Or he could play very attentively to his injured knee only making him more prone to getting injured again. So, this preseason camp will be very telling for Burris because the pads will be on and everyone will be working up to their 100%.
On the other side of the ball, rookie quarterback, Derek Carr moved to the second string spot in training camp this past May, ahead of last season’s 6-game starting quarterback, Matt McGloin. This is somewhat impressive because McGloin completed 118 out of 211 passes with 1,547 yards, 8 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions.
When Carr was asked about being moved ahead of McGloin in training camp, Carr remained humble and said he doesn’t worry about anything like that because he has tons of plays and footwork that he has to be thinking about constantly instead of things like that. He went on to talk about how he was looking forward to developing behind the Raiders soon-to-be starting quarterback, Matt Schaub.
With preseason approaching this week, it will be interesting to see how Carr has prepared after taking all of the information that was thrown at him in the May training camp. Will he continue to develop behind Schaub to the point where he would be ready to be the starting quarterback this season if anything were to happen to Schaub? If he continues working hard and absorbing the necessary information in training camp, then I think he will definitely be a hungry second string quarterback who has the chance to one day become the franchise QB that Oakland has been searching for since Rich Gannon retired in 2005.