Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

August 14, 2008
The truth can hurt

NASHVILLE - Face it. A lot of professional athletes are very sensitive.

They don't want to hear anything critical about themselves. Anything their coach says publicly is taken as a slight.

Lane Kiffin hurt some player's feelings last season with comments about the lack of talent on the team.

And Kiffin hasn't been kind with some Raiders during training camp.

Bill Callahan learned the hard way public critiques can lead to mutiny, especially when coupled with a losing record.

So far, no one (publicly) has a problem with Kiffin's blunt assessments of players.

"The good thing about this staff is they're brutally honest," said guard Robert Gallery. "I think that's good. It hurts some guy's egos but that's the way it is. You're either in or out."

Gallery noted it's better to be told the truth than to find out the hard way the team isn't good.

Past Raider coaches have tried to sugarcoat the obvious. It led to players with inflated views of themselves and a lot of losses.

That's why it isn't bad that Kiffin calls out his players publicly as long as he does it privately, too.

Either way, the truth will come out.

"You can't hide what you are," Gallery said. "It's the preseason but when it comes to that first game you'll know what type of team you are."

Award time

Training camp Offensive MVP

Darren McFadden

He looked as good as advertised.

Runner up

2. Michael Bush

He looks as if he's going to be a force.

3. Todd Watkins

Nondescript wideout caught almost everything thrown to him.

Defensive MVP

Gibril Wilson

Not so much for his play, but the attitude he's brought to the defense. Now all the Raiders want to hit someone.

2. Derrick Burgess

He looks as good as ever and should be in contention to return to the Pro Bowl.

3. Nnamdi Asomugha

One of the best cornerbacks excelled all of camp.

What needs work

*The entire passing game. Russell needs to be accurate, but he also needs receivers that get open and better protection.

*All the offensive tackles. The coaching staff gave Mario Henderson the opportunity to win a starting job and his performance did not impress.

Kwame Harris improved throughout camp whle the player Henderson was supposed to push at RT, Cornell Green, didn't have much to worry about.

The tackles will decide if the Raiders can throw more than short passes this season.

Things to look for in tomorrow night's game against Tennessee:

*Can the Raiders run the ball with Albert Haynewsorth in the middle of the defense. He gave the Raiders fits in last year's regular-season game.

*The wide receivers need to become involved in the passing game. And not just backup Todd Watkins.

Javon Walker, Ronald Curry or Drew Carter need to prove they can be a reliable target in the passing game. The passing attack has looked ragged much of training camp with poor timing being a big reason for that.

*The offensive tackles need to show they can pass block with some consistency. If not, tight end Zach Miller's receiving skills will be wasted because he'll have to pass block.

*The Raiders need to be strong up front on defense. Linebackers need to be aggressive and make sure the collisions happen in the backfield or at the line, not five yards past the line of scrimmage.

*How will Johnnie Lee Higgins handle returning kickoffs?

*Will Ricky Brown step up and assume the role as the third starting linebacker?

*Will Stanford Routt's solid training camp carryover?

*Justin Fargas won't play much so McFadden and Bush need to put together solid efforts.

--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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