With the first full week of Oakland Raiders training camp just about in the books, it seems like a good time to reflect broadly on what has been happening in camp. As always, there’s only so much we can really take away from the team this early in the process. They still have a lot of camp left plus four preseason games before we get a look at the real deal in week one.
But for now, there’s nothing wrong with discussing what’s gong on in camp and in particular, taking a look at what area is giving the biggest reason for concern and what area is giving the biggest reason for excitement.
Biggest Area of Concern
The biggest area of concern early in camp should not be surprising to anyone. The offensive tackle situation for the Raiders simply does not look good. Donald Penn still isn’t practicing and while reports on Kolton Miller have been better than I expected, many still believe he is at least a year away from being a starting tackle in the NFL.
Meanwhile, at right tackle, I haven’t seen much reported that would make me feel good at all. At least with Miller, I’ve seen some promising reports about how hard he is working and the fact that he’s showing improvement.
With right tackle, there’s a legitimate chance that Breno Giacomini is the starter on day one, and that’s just plain scary. Almost scarier is the idea that Brandon Parker, a third round pick, might not be able to beat Giacomini out for the job.
The Raiders will still boast one of the best interior offensive lines in the league, but the bookends are looking a bit worrisome early in camp.
Biggest Reason for Excitement
Perhaps a major part of the reason why the Raiders bookends have looked so bad in camp is the fact that edge rusher Arden Key has simply dominated. Before we discuss him, let’s take a look at Key schooling rookie tackle Brandon Parker:
And Parker isn’t the only one being abused by Key:
It’s hard not to get excited when you see Key in action. We’ve heard multiple people compare Key to Aldon Smith (in a good way) and you can see why when watching these videos. Plus, Key gives me the opportunity to use my favorite football term ever: twitchy.
Watching those videos gives you an idea of what people mean when they describe a player as “twitchy.” Key isn’t just a speed rusher off of the edge, he’s physically gifted in a way that allows him to make the quick moves and changes of direction that throw offensive linemen off balance as he makes his way to the quarterback.
Key is even more exciting when you realize he’s going to be a backup who can spell Khalil Mack and/or Bruce Irvin. In the past, those two guys would play almost every snap in a game because bringing in their backups would result in such a huge drop off in talent that a tired Irvin or a tired Mack was the better option.
Now, the Raiders can rest easy and Mack and Irvin can rest often because they have a guy capable of being an elite pass rusher who can fill in for them throughout the game.