Five Raiders with something to prove
5) Menelik Watson
Menelik Watson, the Raiders' 2013 second round pick, spent most of the season sidelined with injury. He was ineffective when healthy later on, especially after falling behind with so much early time missed. The Raiders hope he can start at right tackle, and gave him most every first-team rep there during the offseason program. Without him healthy and effective, the offensive line must shift at several spots and valuable continuity built over the last few months will be lost.
4) DJ Hayden
The second-year pro has an ability to be a solid cover corner. He has good speed and makes excellent breaks on the ball. Hayden needs to play with confidence and, more importantly, prove that he can stay healthy for a team counting on him to start in 2014. He reportedly isn't fully recovered from an ankle injury he sustained during OTAs.
3) Denarius Moore
Denarius Moore has long been described by two words: talented and inconsistent. The story must get old for the soft-spoken receiver, and he’d certainly like to prove himself worthy of better terms. That’s especially true entering a contract year, on a team without a truly dominant receiver. Moore certainly can be, with great speed and an ability to get significant yards after the catch. Can he do so often enough to warrant a long-term deal next season?
2) David Ausberry
The USC alum has the size, hands and ability to be a productive NFL tight end. One problem: he’s never proved it. He was on the cusp of a starting spot in 2013, before his season was lost to a shoulder injury in an exhibition game at New Orleans. In his two previous seasons, he had just nine catches for 106 yards and no touchdowns. Ausberry wants to be a three-down tight end, and doing so now would be optimal considering he’s in a contract year.
1) Darren McFadden
The veteran running back had other options in free agency, but opted to re-sign with the Raiders when a change of scenery seemed to be the obvious choice. McFadden wanted to come back to prove to a fan base frustrated by his injury issues that he could be productive again. He came back despite just $100,000 in guaranteed money on a one-year contract loaded with incentives. He’ll likely share carries with Maurice Jones-Drew, but wants to realize vast potential while repping Raider Nation.