Top 5 storylines entering Raiders training camp
The Raiders report to training camp Thursday morning, hyped on the possibilities of a promising season and grounded in the knowledge success comes through hard work. Head coach Jack Del Rio has harped that point all offseason, even when his charges were being praised at every turn. That will continue through training camp, as the sexy pick to rise through the ranks and make a playoff run in 2016. Maximizing talent is the goal, as is performing well under pressure. Those traits come through confidence, and the Raiders believe hard work will help them compete with anyone... -- Scott Bair
5) Few key position battles
The Raiders don’t have many position battles ahead this camp, but a key bout exists at right tackle. Austin Howard and Menelik Watson are well matched, with Howard’s steady protection and Watson’s intriguing athleticism. That spot needs to be a good fit, in order to shore up an offensive line many believe can dominate this season. There’s a three-man battle at slot corner and a two-man competition at backup quarterback. Also, young players like Ben Heeney, DeAndre Washington and even Karl Joseph must earn roles this camp. -- Scott Bair
4) Looking to gain more ground
The Raiders wanted more from last year’s rushing attack, which averaged just 91.1 yards per game and had quarterback Derek Carr ranked No. 2 in production. That wasn’t good enough for a team that, at times, wants to win with early leads, good defense and consistent rushing. They added guard Kelechi Osemele and rusher DeAndre Washington to the mix. It’s essential the returners improve production and new guys give it a jolt. -- Scott Bair
3) Have the Raiders built a bully on defense?
The Raiders spent significant resources on defense, in free agency and the NFL Draft. They overhauled the secondary and added bite up front, mixing experienced talent with young guns to construct a unit feared by the opposition. That wasn’t the case last season, when defense was a liability. If the unit remains reasonably healthy, it has a combination of rush and coverage that could be tough to handle. Potential for underachievement always looms, and increases if players aren't working well together.
2) Can Carr be even better?
Derek Carr’s second season silenced many doubters, proving he can compete at a high level when properly complimented. The Raiders won several times relying heavily on Carr’s rocket arm, and lost a few when mistakes were made. People think he can be Brett Favre-like, a top tier player. Head coach Jack Del Rio isn’t worried about that. He often says all responsibility doesn’t fall on the quarterback in a true team game. The Raiders have supported Carr with a hulking line and an improved defense, giving Carr the best possible chance to shine. -- Scott Bair
1) Will Raiders meld with so many new faces?
The Raiders could have as many as nine new starters this season – counting Gabe Jackson’s move from left to right guard – and several key role players starting fresh with the program. Head coach Jack Del Rio focused on team building this offseason, and chemistry seemed strong as the team left for summer break. The next step is playing well together, something fortified during camp and the preseason as pads come on. Togetherness is key to realizing potential, something the Raiders strive for with talented players aplenty. -- Scott Bair