Six Significant Talking Points As Raiders Begin Training Camp

Training camp starts today for the Raiders and these are my thoughts even before the first colorful word officially flies out of Jon Gruden’s mouth.

For better or worse, let’s start with a player to keep an eye on.

Josh Mauro

The Athletic’s Vic Tafur believes 28 year-old Josh Mauro is on course to be the Raiders’ starting defensive end. Mauro has recorded three sacks in five years of NFL service, but he did play under Raiders defensive line coach Brentson Buckner for four years in Arizona.

Ideally, the Raiders will be able to line up a starting defensive end with a little more on the resume than a familiarity with the defensive scheme… but who knows, maybe Mauro is better than anyone outside of the building knows. Even so, general manager Mike Mayock should be at least a little aggressive in adding a serviceable outside pass rusher between now and the regular season opener.

Richie Incognito

It’s easy to understand why not everyone liked the idea of signing Richie Incognito. He has a history of mental health instability, paranoid behavior, he has threatened people, thrown around offensive slurs, and has a violent temper. Not a flattering rap sheet on the part of Incognito, but nothing atypical of what comes with many of the more serious mental health diagnoses affecting people today.

Incognito doesn’t deserve to go unpunished for his actions, but after sitting out two NFL seasons and now a two-game suspension, isn’t it fair to say Incognito has paid his dues?

Furthermore, shame on The San Francisco Chronicle’s Ann Killion for basically saying Incognito isn’t a decent human being. She doesn’t know that. Maybe try sitting down with him and find out where his head is at now and over the past few months. Instead of blasting the Raiders for not putting Incognito on display in front of a mob of reporters (one of whom already wants to crucify him), find a way to get to Incognito yourself. If there are important questions to be asked of Incognito, find a way to get to him. Sometimes in journalism, the story isn’t handed to you when you walk in the front door.

Fantasy Season

There is a lot to be excited about when it comes to the Raiders offense in 2019. Darren Waller is one of the league’s real sleeper candidates at tight end and some think Tyrell Williams is going to feast on all the attention that defenses will be giving Antonio Brown.

But the three Raiders you really want to own in your fantasy leagues are still Brown, Derek Carr, and Josh Jacobs.

The formula isn’t complicated. Brown is going to see massive volume in terms of passes in his direction and Jacobs isn’t going to leave the field very often. Carr is going to have to put 30+ points on the board to win games this year and he finally has the weapons around him to do it again. Draft all three if you can. But don’t go crazy to get the rest.

Derek Carr

“No more talking. No more chatter. It’s just football.”

Watching what few video clips there have been of Derek Carr over the past couple months, it’s been interesting to see how many times he has made comments like the one above.

Do you think he might be getting tired of all the talking heads on television and social media?

Tom Cable

Is there a Raiders position coach with more to prove than Cable?

Gruden may like Cable a lot, but Cable’s approval rating outside of the building could sure use a makeover in the months ahead. Not only does Cable need to get the most out of a couple young offensive linemen, but he also has a key lineman on his payroll who was just guaranteed $36 million and won a Super Bowl with the Patriots. Not saying that will be problem, but from a motivational standpoint, everyone knows how those situations can play out on occasion.

Raider Weaknesses

There has been plenty of talk about where the Raiders improved in the offseason, but the roster is still vulnerable at a few positions.

Adding Clelin Ferrell addressed a huge need for the Raiders in the long term, but Ferrell can’t be expected to solve the Raiders pass-rushing issues all on his own in his rookie year. Khalil Mack put up four sacks in his rookie season and Ferrell isn’t better than Mack. Maybe Ferrell can get 6-8 sacks this year, but the Raiders need to find another 20 or so to keep up with the rest of the worst pass-rushing teams of a year ago.

For now, the plan is apparently to let some of the young defensive linemen in Oakland develop into key roles – a plan that needs to play out along the offensive line, too.

We’ve seen a few victory laps from those who predicted the Raiders would stick with Kolton Miller at left tackle, but that’s still going to be determined in August. Hopefully Miller turns the corner as a player as he unquestionably has the tools to be one of the better left tackles in the league. Not saying Miller isn’t going to earn the job, but a wise man once said…

“No more talking. No more chatter. It’s just football.”

Twitter: @raidersbeat