Ten questions heading into Raiders training camp
10. With so many new starters, can the Raiders' defense gel in time for the regular season?
The Raiders should have nine new starters on defense, making this camp vital in the effort to play as one. Talent must be melded together during this strenuous period, an easier task if the starting lineup can stay healthy. Look to middle linebacker Nick Roach and free safety Charles Woodson to lead that effort. --Scott Bair
9. Who will start at right tackle?
In a perfect world, Menelik Watson will take the No. 1 spot from Khalif Barnes. That’s no guarantee considering Watson, an Englishman and longtime basketball player, has just one season of major-college experience heading into his NFL rookie season. His upside is great, but the learning curve may be too steep to unseat Barnes. --Scott Bair
8. Who will emerge at SAM linebacker?
A three-man fight for the starting spot will be waged between Kaluka Maiava, Sio Moore and Miles Burris. Moore has the highest potential, yet the most to learn. That gives a leg up to veteran Maiava, who is better against the run. Don’t lose sight of Moore, who could be an important player whether he starts or not. --Scott Bair
7. Can DJ Hayden catch up and contribute after missing most of the offseason program?
Probably not by the regular-season opener. He might be able to under less competition, but Mike Jenkins and Tracy Porter are quality corners and Hayden has some serious catching up to do. If he’s healthy to start camp and stays that way, Hayden could contribute early. If not, midseason might be a proper target for regular playing time. --Scott Bair
6. Will the new man-blocking scheme help the running game?
It should. The switch from zone blocking to a more straight-forward scheme fits running back Darren McFadden’s downhill, rushing style. When combined with a quality lead blocker in fullback Marcel Reece, McFadden has been set up to succeed. --Scott Bair
5. Can Charles Woodson find the fountain of youth?
Charles Woodson is 36. No joke. He’s no longer a 20-something Raiders draftee, but Woodson still has something left in the tank and has been more willing to lead young teammates than in his previous tenure. He’s a perfect leader to ease a difficult transition as a captain on and off the field. --Scott Bair
4. Will the team rally around Dennis Allen?
The Raiders can only succeed by pulling in the same direction. They’re too thin to win otherwise. This young, impressionable group is ready buy into Allen’s philosophy assuming select veterans start the trend and fight for their coach. --Scott Bair
3. Where will the Raiders look for a pass rush?
Outside of Lamarr Houston, it’s anybody’s guess. No other Raider has the burst, quickness and power necessary to be a dominant pass rusher, but one must emerge to free Houston from steady double teams. Andre Carter and Jason Hunter will get a chance to do so at right end, but a steady rotation could use fresh legs to compensate for a lack of elite pass-rushing ability. --Scott Bair
2. Will QB Matt Flynn take hold of the starting job?
Flynn lost his grip on a starting gig last season in Seattle, but he should keep his spot against lesser competition. He remains an unknown commodity, but will have an opportunity to establish himself in camp and the early regular season. That’s due in large part to a lack of competition from Terrelle Pryor or rookie Tyler Wilson. But, if he can limit turnovers and maintain a high completion percentage, Flynn could keep this job all season long. --Scott Bair
1. Can Darren McFadden stay healthy?
McFadden hasn’t played 16 games in an NFL season, but the Raiders need him to this year more than any other. In a contract year and with the term “injury prone” around his neck, McFadden has never been more motivated. The Raiders must find a way to keep him on the field, even if that means limiting his preseason touches and carries in short-yardage situations. With McFadden on the field, the offense stands a puncher’s chance. Without him, the Raiders could go down for the count. --Scott Bair