First Day of OTAs: Watch the Passing Game

The first of 12 organized team activities begins today. Media access will be Wednesday.

Fans and media are left to speculate on what the Raiders might be doing behind closed doors. A large tweak of the defense this offseason might be enough to headline offseason coverage on most teams, but the biggest question will continue to be the development of the offense.

If starting positions or roster spots aren’t won during OTAs, then what is the point to following them?

The truth is that this time can be important for team development. The coaching staff is installation new offensive and defensive plays and the coaching staff is sizing up a rough depth chart to use for training camp.

Players will be on the roster bubble. One rookie didn’t make it to camp last season, so these times are definitely important for players on the backend of the roster.

Starters may not be decided, but there will be evaluation at positions with significant competition.

Some positions are probably easier than others to evaluate, such as wide receiver and cornerback. Route running, catching the football, coverage ability and ball skills are fairly easy to evaluate in an environment without pads.

Still, there will be areas that are impossible to evaluate without pads such as tackling anything to do with the offensive and defensive lines. Half the battle in football is being where you should be and perhaps that is where most of the evaluation will be taking place.

In that way, watching and listening to what the coaches are saying on the field is more important than how a runningback looks in non-contact drills.

There is surprisingly little that the fan and media will be able to see, but we continue to pick each little thing apart. How is it better? How is it worse?

Keeping an eye on the passing game is probably the easiest thing to do. Jason Campbell should find it easy to pick up another offense; he should be an expert of learning a new playbook having done it eight times before. Everyone will be watching him.

One thing interesting about mini-camp was Campbell’s wobbling, but very accurate passes. After watching ESPN’s Sportscience on Drew Brees, wobble actually helps accuracy.

Darrius Heyward-Bey needs to get open and catch the ball away from his body with more consistency. Chaz Schilens, more than anything, needs to stay healthy. The Raiders need to find out if Jacoby Ford can help as a receiver. Todd Watkins, Yamon Figurs and Johnnie Lee Higgins are probably on the roster bubble.

Undrafted players will make the roster, but which ones will be hard to determine until the end of training camp. Starters at some positions are predetermined, but for those that aren’t this is a classroom environment for the players. How well are they are learning and can they apply what they are learning on the fly will be important as coaches do not want to have to re-explain things in training camp they went over during OTAs.

Notable:

- I’ve had correspondence with Raiders PR man Mike Taylor regarding a media credential. I’m still waiting for the official word.

- My cousin, Danny Thomas, participated in the Nike Oakland Combine and had the top SPARQ rating at 116.58, good for 17th in the country and the Tim Tebow award. Many Raiders including Nnamdi Asomugha, Louis Murphy, Chaz Schilens were in attendance as well as Tim Tebow.

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