Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

July 22, 2008
Who will JaMarcus play catch with?

The Raiders' passing game was really bad last year.

The explosive offense Lane Kiffin promised was more like a dud.

The Raiders ranked 31st in passing offense and tied for 24th with on 17 touchdown passes. Raider quarterbacks threw 20 interceptions.

Much to the chagrin of players, Kiffin openly criticized the personnel at receiver.

Most notable was his lament after the Raiders lost to Chicago and he complained of using three-receiver sets and the Bears didn't even bother to go to a nickel defense to adjust.

Meanwhile, Randy Moss was in New England setting records and being everything the Raiders' passing game wasn't - dynamic, explosive, etc.

It's impossible to pick a player to watch at receiver. The reality is all of them have something to prove this season.

The only option in the passing game with little to worry about is Zach Miller, who should catch more than 50 passes is he's not forced to stay in and pass block.

The play of the receivers is directly tied to the development of JaMarcus Russell and whether Kiffin proves to be an offensive genius or if the passing game is just offensive.

Tight end preview

John Madsen
: A former college receiver that should be used to create mismatches. For whatever reason on a team lacking receivers last year, Kiffin didn't turn to Madsen nearly enough.

Miller: He's a future Pro Bowl player if he's not pass blocking.

Tony Stewart
: Special teams player.

Darrell Strong: Undrafted rookie that might be practice squad material.

Chris Wagner: See above statement regarding Strong.

Fred Wakefield: Blocking tight end that might also play defensive end. He looks to be healthy after tearing his ACL during last year's training camp.

Receiver preview

Will Buchanon
: Preseason star in 2006 was cut during last year's training camp.

Drew Carter: Free agent that has already developed a good rapport with Russell. Considering the health issues with Javon Walker, Carter might prove to be the best addition to the group. He came to the Raiders, in part, to play for new receivers coach James Lofton. Carter also fits the bits the prototype of what kind receiver Kiffin likes.

Ronald Curry: Is he a No. 1 receiver? Better as a slot receiver? Quarterbacks love him because Curry is a former QB and has a knack for finding the right spot on third downs. He's coming off surgery to remove bone spurs that he said hindered him last season. He averaged 13 yards a catch, a career best, in 2007.

Johnnie Lee Higgins: Has a lot to prove as a receiver, but he must be given the chance. One of the mistakes of last season was playing Tim Dwight when Higgins could have gained experience as a rookie.

Johnathan Holland:
A seventh-round draft pick last year that never played after being injured after the draft.

Drisan James: A practice squad player from 2007.

Chris McFoy: Played for Kiffin at USC and spent part of last season on the practice squad before being promoted to the active roster.

Jonathan Orr: Cut from the practice squad last year and listed on the roster, but not on the roster.

Marcel Reece: Could be this year's surprise player. Earned a contract after starring in the team's rookie camp and has the size to play some tight end. He's a player that could create match up problems with his athleticism.

Chaz Schilens: A seventh-round pick that looked good in offseason workouts. Has good size and speed and has a good chance of making the team.

Arman Shields: Coming off a knee injury in college, the fourth-round pick was limited by a hamstring injury during offseason workouts.

Javon Walker: Where to begin? The knee surgery last year before the Raiders gave him an $11 million signing bonus or that same knee was operated on in 2005? That Kiffin took every chance to say Walker was out of shape?

And that was before Walker was beaten and robbed in Las Vegas and suffered a fractured jaw and orbital bone last month.

Walker is the classic "high risk, high reward" signing. If he's healthy, Walker is the best receiver on the team. But the Walker that was Pro Bowl player in Green Bay back in 2004 hasn't been on the field in some time.

Walker had a decent season with Denver in 2006, but he needs to show that he's over the effects of the knee injury and injuries from Las Vegas. There are also the mental hurdles some believe Walker is dealing with since the death of teammate of Darrent Williams, Jan. 1, 2007.

Todd Watkins: Seemed to catch everything during OTAs and Kiffin likes production. He will have to keep that up in the preseason to have a chance of making the team.

--Jason Jones

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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