The following is a closer look at some of the things we learned from the Oakland Raiders' minicamp last week and what it could mean headed into training camp, which starts late next month:
Carr-Cooper growing together: Last week marked the first time the two worked together on the field because Derek Carr didn't throw for about a month with a finger injury. Carr is now healthy and the two got plenty of work together during the minicamp. Amari Cooper, the No. 4 overall draft pick, dropped some passes during the three-day session, but there is no doubt he looks ready for the NFL. The Carr-Cooper connection will be a major storyline of training camp.
Webb leading right guard race: In a surprise, newly signed J'Marcus Webb was working with the first team over veteran Khalif Barnes and rookie Jon Feliciano. Webb started at tackle under new Oakland offensive line coach Mike Tice in Chicago. He didn't play last year, but Webb heads to camp as the favorite. The Raiders want Feliciano to eventually start and Barnes has been reliable. Webb has gone from an after-thought signing to a potential starter. Also, 2013 second-round pick Menelik Watson continues to lead big-money free agent Austin Howard at right tackle. I continue to contend Watson will win this job if he doesn't completely fall apart. That would be another blow to the Raiders' 2014 free-agent class. Howard signed a five-year, $30 million deal that offseason.
McGill leading Hayden at cornerback: In another surprise, Keith McGill getting more work with the Raiders' first-team defense than former first-round pick DJ Hayden at cornerback. McGill, a fourth-round pick last year, was getting consistent first-team work opposite TJ Carrie, a seventh-round pick in 2014. Hayden was working some with the first team but was doing more work with the second unit. Hayden was the No. 12 overall pick in 2013. All three players are expected to be in the top of the rotation and will all get a lot of playing time. But Hayden and Carrie were expected to be the favorites to be the starters. If McGill ends up playing more than Hayden, it would be a major sign Hayden is not going to live up to his draft status.
Armstrong in linebacker mix: The Raiders really like third-year linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong. He is getting some first-team work with Sio Moore working his way back from a hip surgery. Armstrong is a raw, athletic player. It will be interesting to see if he pushes Moore and free-agent pickup Malcolm Smith in training camp.
Murray's job to lose: It seems Latavius Murray is far ahead of Trent Richardson in the chase to be the starting tailback. And that's what I expected. Murray is inexperienced (just 82 career carries) but he is explosive (5.4 per carry average). Richardson looks sluggish and looks like a backup. That's what his first four NFL seasons, with Cleveland and Indianapolis, indicated. Richardson has averaged 3.3 yards per carry average in his career.