Raiders training camp: 3 positions to watch for improvement

Raiders have high optimism for 2019 season

The Oakland Raiders are in its third week of organized team activities before three-day mandatory minicamp next week.
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The Oakland Raiders are in its third week of organized team activities before three-day mandatory minicamp next week.

Training camp is here for the Oakland Raiders as the veterans arrived in Napa on Friday.

The rookies and the quarterbacks, including Derek Carr, arrived on Tuesday.

The first practice is set for 9:30 a.m. Saturday. The Raiders will have 16 practices in Napa before breaking camp on Aug. 19.

And, yes, NFL Films will be there. The season premiere of “Hard Knocks” is set for Aug. 6 on HBO.

Here are three positions where the Raiders need to do better if they hope to improve on last season’s 4-12 record.

How will the offensive line perform?

Last season, Carr was sacked a career-high 51 times. That is too much for the ex-Fresno State star who is entering his sixth season.

The Raiders paid $36.25 million to lure free-agent right tackle Trent Brown from New England, where he helped the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory. Oakland also brought in guard Richie Incognito who will miss the first two games of the regular season for violating the personal conduct policy.

This is certain: center Rodney Hudson will start and guard Gabe Jackson and left tackle Kolton Miller will likely start.

Guard Denzelle Good recently underwent back surgery and is at least two months away from starting football activities, Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said Friday.

Will new defenders make a difference?

The defense was dreadful last season, recording an NFL-worst 13 sacks.

Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said it was “by far my hardest year in coaching.”

But, Guenther said the Raiders addressed the problem with new players. The Raiders hit free agency and added linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Brandon Marshall. and went with defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the fourth overall pick and safety Johnathan Abram with the 26th pick. Oakland added three defensive players in the 2019 NFL Draft.

The Raiders welcome back defensive tackle Maurice Hurst who finished with four sacks last season.

Can the secondary step up?

The Raiders signed safety Lamarcus Joyner to help out Karl Joseph.

Joseph was graded as the Raiders’ best defender last season despite starting just eight games because of a lower leg injury. He finished with 42 tackles, two sacks, an interception, two tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits.

This will be a prove-it deal of sorts for Joseph because the Raiders declined his fifth-year option so there will be incentives for Joseph to do well.

But the question is how much will cornerback Gareon Conley show this season?

In 2018, he had three interceptions and 15 pass deflections and made 24 solo tackles translating in what the Raiders hoped to see. The team hopes to see him flourish this season.

Cornerback Daryl Worley is looking to overcome a season-ending injury last season in Week 14 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He had an interception and seven pass deflections before the injury.

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Anthony Galaviz writes about sports for The Fresno Bee. He covers the Oakland Raiders, high schools, boxing, MMA and junior colleges. He’s been with The Bee since 1997 and attended Fresno City College before graduating from Fresno State with a major in journalism and a minor in criminology.