T-minus nine days until the Oakland Raiders report to Napa for training camp. Let's get a Twitter mailbag going, then...
@PGutierrezESPN Predictions for the Starting O-Line?
— Chandler Miller (@CM_Draft) July 13, 2014
@PGutierrezESPN OK, I'll stick with what I projected during minicamp in a story I did on new left tackle Donald Penn: Penn at left tackle, rookie Gabe Jackson at left guard, Stefen Wisniewski at center, Austin Howard at right guard and Menelik Watson at right tackle. That projected line averages 6-foot-4, 326 pounds. That's a lot of beef up front, and they all have something to prove, too.
@PGutierrezESPN which udfa makes the team?
— Lance (@gatekeeper1269) July 13, 2014
@PGutierrezESPN: What, are you trying to get an in on Mark Davis' preseason bet? Remember, the Raiders owner gets together with some of the old school Raiders -- guys like Willie Brown and George Atkinson -- and they have a little wager on which undrafted rookie free agent makes the initial 53-man roster. Davis won the bet last year with Matt McGloin (no, Davis did not tell Reggie McKenzie and Dennis Allen to keep McGloin so he'd win the "game" for an eighth straight year). So with all of that as a backdrop, and with George Atkinson III's standing not only as a legacy Raider but as a potential kickoff returner, and the fact that his arrival meant second-year running Latavius Murray changed his number, I'm going with Son of Hitman as the most likely UDFA to make the initial 53-man roster.
@PGutierrezESPN will raiders look to fill depth @ Defensive Ends because after tuck/wood it seems to drop off?
— IG @VTONTHETRACK (@VTONTHETRACK) July 13, 2014
@PGutierrezESPN: Yeah, based on resumes, anyone after Justin Tuck and LaMarr Woodley would seemingly be a dropoff, no? Such is life in Year 1 of reconstruction with the Rebuildin' Raiders. Really, if the Raiders look to add depth on the roster, I see them going in the direction of tight end and wide receiver first. Besides, with so much versatility in the defensive front seven, you also have Antonio Smith, who is a career DE in a 3-4 alignment and the Raiders do have high hopes in a couple of young ends with C.J. Wilson and Jack Crawford, plus Ryan Robinson did get in on 12 games a year ago, though mostly on special teams. Then, rookie linebacker Khalil Mack could come up and put his hand in the dirt on passing downs. Drop off? Yes. But the Raiders have hopes in the young guys learning at the knees of Tuck and Woodley and Smith, too.
@PGutierrezESPN how close is Carr to starting ?
— Texas Raider (@raider_texas) July 13, 2014
@PGutierrezESPN: Initially, the plan was for Derek Carr to take a "redshirt" year this season and learn how the NFL works while holding a clipboard. But after being somewhat surprisingly elevated to second string in minicamp, ahead of McGloin, he's that much closer to replacing Matt Schaub, who replaced Carr's older brother David in Houston. Still, the younger Carr has much to prove as he last operated out of a pro-style offense three years ago at Fresno State and the Raiders' offense has been created to fit Schaub's strengths. The, ahem, competition between Schaub and Carr will be the biggest story/non-story of camp. Unless, of course, Schaub gets injured or is so ineffective the situation calls for a second-round draft pick to get the future jumpstarted early.
— Joseph B. Camacho (@jcamacho510) July 13, 2014
@PGutierrezESPN: Not sure you can put an actual number on what would "save" Reggie McKenzie and/or Dennis Allen. Sure, Mark Davis wants to see progress and the most tangible measuring stick for that is the number in the "win" column. But with how tough this schedule is this season and having rebuilt the defense, again, and bringing in another quarterback, patience should be shown ... for continuity sake. Now, if the Raiders get off to a slow start -- think 0-4 with a lifeless showing on an international stage in London -- and the team is not responding to Allen, that goes beyond growing pains, and Allen's seat will be white hot. I'm still feeling 5-11/6-10, which would technically be an improvement from a pair of 4-12 seasons in Allen's first two years. It's all in the how the Raiders play.
@PGutierrezESPN Odds Andre Johnson becomes a Raider?
— Scott (@Banon93) July 13, 2014
@PGutierrezESPN: I've been banging this drum all summer. It seems a natural. The addition of a seven-time Pro Bowler who has averaged 108 catches, 1,459 yards receiving and six touchdowns the last five seasons in which he's played 16 games would seemingly serve two purposes -- it would gave the Raiders the true No. 1 receiver they need and it would reunite Schaub with his top target in Houston to help with his transition in Oakland. Johnson has reportedly said he'd consider adjusting his contract, but would not take a paycut. The Raiders have more than $10.7 million in salary cap space, per ESPN Stats & Info. Odds? The longer Johnson remains disgruntled with the Texans, the lower his price becomes and the better the odds he ends up in Oakland.
@PGutierrezESPN What's the division of labor going to look like at RB between MJD and DMC? Any chance they both line up on the same downs?
— Evan McLaughlin (@CapitolEVAN) July 13, 2014
@PGutierrezESPN: That is one of the biggest questions entering camp, and one I'm not sure the Raiders even know how to answer ... yet. Both Maurice Jones-Drew and Darren McFadden are running backs who need carries to get warmed up, so to speak, and get better as the game wears on. So while splitting the duties may keep them healthy, sharing the ball may actually be counter-productive to their individual production. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson will have to do some serious mixing and matching, especially if Latavius Murray is to be used as a change-of-pace back and the running game works enough to set up Schaub's bread-and-butter, the play-action passing game.
— MARQUAI demps (@quizdance) July 13, 2014
@PGutierrezESPN: Interesting. Very interesting. Sio Moore's early-NFL skillset does seem to most benefit all involved if he is at strongside linebacker, where he started 11 games as a rookie. And his energy would be a huge asset coming off the bench, especially on passing downs, as evidenced by his 4.5 sacks. Yet he spent most of the offseason on the weakside, along with Miles Burris, who took over first-team duties in minicamp. Plus, there's veteran Kevin Burnett to factor in, so long as he's healthy and is fine competing with Moore and Burris at WILL. I like the idea of Moore staying at SAM, but coming off the bench as a situational player, though his energy might be more needed on the other side.