Oakland Raiders: Week One Training Camp Standouts
David Wilson – Aug 2, 2012
The start of training camp is always an optimistic time of year for any football team, with coaches and players telling you what they hope to achieve in the coming season. But who has looked like they have really stepped up and made an impact over the first three days?
The development and progress of a team’s rookies and younger players is key to future progress of the team, and as a fan you look to see that progress in camp. Certainly there are several players who are already making their mark.
DeMarcus Van Dyke CB – Not only is Van Dyke’s improved play the most notable of all the players in camp, but it also the most welcome. The Raiders have questions over the cornerback position going into this season with Shawntae Spencer and Ron Bartell, both free agents, as probable starters. They really needed one of the younger players to step up and make a push for a starting spot.
Van Dyke is one of the few players who does not need to fear Heyward Bey's speed, if anything Van Dyke is even faster.
Personally I love to see Van Dyke doing well, as he was an Al Davis pick, and a selection much criticised by the haters who had him down as ‘just another speed guy’. But Al picked him after he was worked out by Rod Woodson, and that was enough for me to believe Van Dyke was going to be a winner.
He is certainly supporting that belief that the moment, with a number of journalists singing his praises.
Mike Goodson RB – With Michael Bush gone, the question was always who was going to back up Darren McFadden, Goodson or Taiwan Jones? So far Goodson is looking favorite after impressing early in camp, and looking like he is a good fit as a running back for the ‘one cut and go’ style required in the zone blocking offense.
Goodson’s strong play is yet another endorsement of General Manager Reggie McKenzie’s excellent decision making, after he traded for Goodson in the off season.
McKenzie traded offensive lineman Bruce Campbell to get Goodson. Campbell was an amazing physical specimen, but clearly didn’t get it as a football player.
Again, a number of journalists have praised Goodson as a clear system fit, and a guy who plays behind his pads with a good running style. Coming to Oakland looks to be a great move for Goodson, who wasn’t ever going to get a shot in Carolina.
Jack Crawford DE – The rookie defensive end out of Penn State was headlined in a couple of articles this week detailing his excellent play on the field, showing that he had some pass rushing talent on a number of occasions.
So whilst Crawford’s strong play have come against the second team offense as opposed to the starters, you can really only beat those players they put in front of you, and to standout is to stand out, period.
At 6’ 5” and 275lbs, Crawford has the physical tools be to an every down defender (much like Matt Shaugnessy) rather than simply a pass rusher. Again, this looks to be a great selection by Reggie McKenzie.
Marcel Reece FB – As the Raider Nation knows already, Reece is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses, and this continues to be the case at training camp. Reece has a rare size/speed combination, combined with good hands and exact route running. That makes him tough to deal with.
Any grumbles about his contract this off season don’t appear to have affected his motivation to come to camp in shape and give his best. In 2012, he will once again be a weapon for the Raider offense.
Other players who have shown well are rookie wide receiver Rod Streater, and of course Darren McFadden.
Streater hasn’t made highlight reel plays every day, but continues to put together a solid body of work, to the point where the Raiders felt comfortable trading Louis Murphy to the Panthers.
McFadden never fails to impress in camp with his elite speed and body control.
If the Raiders decide to keep six running backs on the roster, as I think they might given McFadden’s injury history, then Lonyae Miller may be a candidate for that sixth spot. At 6’ 0” and 230lbs, he is a powerful downhill runner who could pick up some of the carries that Michael Bush used to get.
Overall, the Raiders new defense is also showing strongly against what is expected to be a dangerous Oakland offensive unit.
I believe the aiders defense will be one of the surprises of 2012. There have been many talented players on this unit, which has sadly been held back by an outdated scheme. With Dennis Allen and Jason Tarver in charge, these players have the chance to reach their full potential.
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