New Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio spoke to local media Thursday, and Michael Wagaman was there for ESPN.com. The following are my thoughts on some of the more interesting points:
Latavius Murray: Del Rio said the young, promising running back has earned the right to compete for the starting job but won't yet anoint him. In the most interesting comments of the session, Del Rio said Murray needs to work on his football awareness and football IQ to enhance his tremendous skills. Del Rio said the staff can help Murray get to where they want him to be.
There were rumblings that the previous coaching staff was not satisfied with Murray's readiness. Let's face it: There was a reason why Murray didn't get a chance to play until the second half of the season, with the Raiders still winless. The fact that Del Rio has acknowledged it is interesting. This is almost entirely a new staff, so it's clear this is also the sense the new coaches have gathered.
The talented Murray will get his chance, but it's clear Del Rio expects him to elevate his overall game and knowledge of the game. It should only make Murray a better player.
Maurice Jones-Drew: Jones-Drew starred for Del Rio in Jacksonville, but the running back has slowed down considerably. He had just 96 yards rushing last season, his first in Oakland. Considering his lack of production, that he will turn 30 next month and that he is due $2.5 million this season, it has been expected Jones-Drew will be cut.
However, Del Rio acted as if the Raiders want to see if Jones-Drew has something left in the tank. That would indicate he will be brought to camp.
I think the Raiders should focus on Murray and bringing in a younger veteran, but perhaps the door is not closed on Jones-Drew. Oakland has a ton of salary cap space, so if they cut Jones-Drew later, it won't hurt its free-agency pursuits.
Terrific, but go draft Amari Cooper or sign a top receiver in free agency, anyway.
The Raiders need an immediate impact receiver. They can't gamble on Streater, Holmes or Butler. If one or all of these guys blow up and become a star, great. But go get someone else, too.
Run blocking: Del Rio mentioned the lack of holes as one of the reasons the Raiders had the worst ground game in the NFL. It makes me wonder if there will be changes on the offensive line, although the unit was strong in pass protection.
Renovations at facility: Del Rio said there will be improvements made at the Raiders' practice facility. That is important. It is considered one of the least impressive buildings in the league and more than a few players have grumbled about it. It shows owner Mark Davis is committed to making improvements and perhaps it will no longer be a deterrent for free agents. Also, if Davis is putting money into an Alameda building, it could be a sign that he is in, indeed, serious about staying in Oakland.