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Training camp goals
1. Establish accountability under new coach Dennis Allen. Former coach Hue Jackson vowed to eradicate penalties, only to have the Raiders set NFL records with 163 of them for 1,358 yards. Allen said the Raiders will be tough, smart and disciplined and that the penalty problem will be a big focus of training camp. In the past, Raiders players have been secure in their roles as starters, realizing the final say wasn't with the head coach but with owner Al Davis. No longer. Decisions on who plays and who doesn't will be Allen's call, by order of general manager Reggie McKenzie.
2. The other area where accountability will be paramount is the Raiders' run defense, one of Oakland's biggest weaknesses last season. Gap integrity has been missing for years – the Raiders were 29th against the run last season and that's about the area they've resided since 2002. Again, will Allen be quick to push aside players who fail to execute?
[Related: Shutdown Corner's podcast on AFC West rookies]
Player to watch
Quarterback Carson Palmer believes a new offensive system featuring moving pockets and precision passing will be the rebirth of his career. A year ago, showing up via trade after Jason Campbell
broke his collarbone, Palmer did his best to be a leader but it was clear that in some quarters there was a hangover among some players with regard to Campbell, who was particularly tight with the receiving corps. Toward that end, Palmer has already had offseason workouts with wideouts including starters Darrius Heyward-Bey
and Denarius Moore
. Palmer goes in to the season with more clout than any quarterback since Rich Gannon and he'll need to exercise it.
On the hot seat
Middle linebacker Rolando McClain
awaits appeal of misdemeanor convictions for assault, reckless endangerment, illegal discharge of a firearm and menacing. He could serve up to 180 days in jail, and lose a good portion if not all of the season if the justice system moves along quickly. More likely, McClain will play through the appeals process as it drags on and show the Raiders that he can be a good citizen and teammate. McClain's studious nature in film study has never been in doubt, but the Raiders are watching closely at his off-field behavior. They're solidly in his corner, with general manager Reggie McKenzie saying they won't hold him responsible for past sins.
The Raiders want to see the player they took No. 8 in the draft after two seasons of mediocre production against the run or pass. But they won't hesitate to act swiftly if he ends up the victim of his own questionable decision-making. Any more shots of McClain being put with a smile into a police cruiser could mean the instant elevation of third-year player Travis Goethel
to middle linebacker and McClain being sent out of town as a bust similar to JaMarcus Russell.
[Around the NFL: 2012 training camp schedules, key questions, fantasy advice and more]
Strategy and personnel
Interesting to note there was no variation in terms of the first-team offensive line from the first OTA through the mandatory minicamp.
The Raiders lined up with Jared Veldheer
at left tackle, Cooper Carlisle
at left guard, Alex Parsons
at center, Mike Brisiel
at right guard and Khalif Barnes
at right tackle at every practice except when Brisiel missed time with a hamstring strain.
Parsons will be moved aside in favor of Stefen Wisniewski
, a left guard last season, when training camp begins. It does afford Parsons, however, the chance of making the 53-man roster as he is currently the lone backup center.
The two players most likely to have a chance to compete for a starting spot when camp begins are rookie third-round pick Tony Bergstrom
at Carlisle's left guard spot and second-year player Joe Barksdale
at right tackle against Barnes.
– WR Denarius Moore (right hamstring strain) missed the last two days of the mandatory minicamp. He is expected to return for training camp.
– DT Travis Ivey
sustained a concussion during a weight lifting session when his head hit the bar and missed time during the mandatory minicamp. He is expected to return for training camp.
– SS Mike Mitchell
(knee) is expected back for training camp.
– C Stefen Wisniewski (shoulder) missed the mandatory minicamp and OTAs while rehabbing but is expected back for training camp.
– FB Manase Tonga
(knee) missed OTAs and mandatory minicamp but is expected to return for training camp where competition will be fierce with Owen Schmitt
and Marcel Reece
– LB Aaron Curry
(knee) practiced on the first day of the mandatory minicamp then sat out the next two as a precautionary measure.
– TE Brandon Myers
(hamstring) missed the last minicamp practice but is expected back by training camp.
– WR Eddie McGee
(hamstring) is expected back for training camp.
Full Raiders team report
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