Raiders Inch Toward Training Camp With Questions At Linebacker

After a busy offseason, the Raiders are about two weeks from entering training camp with a roster that is a lot better from top to bottom than many seem to think.

There are questions about health and questions about where a handful of rookies and second-year players are going to fit in, but the overall roster is ready to compete for the AFC right now.

With that said, if there’s a position group that’s worth worrying about in mid-July, it has to be the Raiders linebacker group and the biggest question is in the middle with Derrick Johnson.

Maybe Jon Gruden got the steal of the offseason when he signed Johnson, who will turn 36 during the season, but there’s a reason the Raiders (or any other team) didn’t pounce on Johnson before a full two months into the free agency period. The Raiders were essentially the only team that seemed willing to give Johnson a shot at a full-time role.

What’s more, the Raiders haven’t yet brought in competition for Johnson at middle linebacker.

“I’m not even sure Gruden knows [who will be his middle linebacker],” John Middlekauff wrote in The Athletic Thursday morning. “In a perfect world for Gruden, Derrick Johnson would prove he’s the guy in camp. But I’m not sure he can run anymore. And in a league that spreads you out more than ever, you must cover ground to play in the middle. I think there is a better chance that Johnson gets cut at the end of camp than ends up the starter.”

Behind Johnson on the Raiders depth chart is essentially Marquel Lee or bust – unless defensive coordinator Paul Guenther decides to really start shuffling around players. And that thought raises the question: is the Raiders starting middle linebacker even on the current roster?

If not, how aggressive will Gruden be to acquire a starting-caliber middle linebacker? In the past, general manager Reggie McKenzie has been borderline irresponsible at addressing the position, but some of McKenzie’s past roster failures have since been pushed off on the former coaching staff (a theory that actually makes some sense).

For what it’s worth, if the Raiders do decide to revisit the NaVorro Bowman idea, they’d have two of the best linebackers (based on their 2017 performances) at finding and hitting ball carriers.

twitter: @raidersbeat



18 thoughts on “Raiders Inch Toward Training Camp With Questions At Linebacker

  1. Bowman will be Back, there’s plenty of player’s who will get Released, and give the Raiders some Cap Space 2 Bring Navarro Bowman back?

    1. With MACK, Guenther, Irvin to DE, the young D lineman, revamped seconday(w healthy Conley), Whitehead, Joseph used properly, and much better depth overall, Bowman in the middle is all that’s needed! Obtw the offense will take a lot of pressure away.

  2. I think Navarro Bowman proved he can still play at a high level. There are two tasks left to accomplish. 1 Get Mack signed. 2 Get Bowman back in the fold. This is not negotiable. McKenzie/ Gruden get this done. This defense has to give the offense opportunities. Why the delay. Both players want to be there. Stop goofing off. LETS GO RAIDERS!!!

  3. We need to get Mac on the field and ready to go if we knew this is going to be a problem then we should have used the franchise tag but we don’t use the franchise tag on anyone so Reggie and Mark and Gruden better get this done sooner than later

  4. Reggie has avoided addressing this position for too long. His first year here we could have used one of those 7th round picks on Vontaze Burfict. Every year some where earlier in the draft he just overlooks this position- I don’t understand!!!

  5. My guess is Bowman & Johnson will play – Bowman as 1st & 2nd down run stopping backer & Johnson as 3rd down coverage. While Johnson has lost some speed he still graded out as one of the better coverage backers in 2017. His experience and IQ allow him to recognize route concepts to make up for his lost speed.

  6. They are trying to go younger. Alot of good younger talent gets cut during after preseason and players get traded too so I am sure they are waiting until all the cuts to fill out the roster. They offered Bowman a contract but he wanted to test the market. If he really wants to play take the original deal. Things will work out well thus year. I have faith in Gruden!

  7. Mack will be there, the defense is going to be great. Bowman isn’t the savior he’d be an great addition but two aging middle linebackers are pointless especially when we drafted one last year who sat behind Bowman to learn, not to mention the additions we’ve already added. Bowman was great but he has mobility issues now

  8. I would like Bowman on early downs and Johnso aylt covering 3rd, but that is wosful thinking right now..

  9. I think Whitehead makes up for the speed that Johnson might of lost. What Gruden wants Johnson for is a leader in the LB core which he seems to be doing. The biggest thing that got thr raiders last year was running back catching balls out of the back field between the 2 I think they handle that.

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