Week 1 observations:
*Everyone is wondering when the New England Patriots will call Daunte Culpepper.
*The importance of a quality backup QB is evident already with Tom Brady, Vince Young and Brodie Croyle already down.
*Rookie running backs (Chicago's Matt Forte, Tennessee's Chris Johnson) can make an impact immediately.
*Not exactly the way Norv Turner wanted to start the season ... again.
*Philadelphia's defense looks a lot like the group that went to the Super Bowl against New England. They bring pressure from all over the field.
*By the way, Donovan McNabb looked great, too. The Eagles will give Dallas a fight for the NFC East title.
*The Raiders haven't won a season-opener since 2002. If they beat Denver tomorrow night, they'll be in first place in the AFC West (go ahead and laugh).
The Raiders were in sole possession of first place last year with a 2-2 record while the rest of the division was 2-3.
The Raiders went on to lose six straight.
*My fantasy team (Long Beach Eastsidaz) is looking pretty good right now.
Now on to some reader questions ...
Question: Jason, Since the Raiders cut Josh Shaw and later William Joseph; Do you think that the team has any interest in bringing back DT Rod Coleman or DT Ethan Kelley? In regards to OLB Do you think the team will revisit expressing interest in Keith Adams?
Jeff, Los Angeles
Answer: Always nice to hear from the City of Angels. The Raiders appear content with a three-man rotation of Tommy Kelly, Gerard Warren and Terdell Sands. Fred Wakefield would be the fourth defensive tackle and the team could slide Jay Richardson down to DT in certain situations.
I'm in favor of teams having four quality defensive tackles because on long drives those are the players most likely to fatigue. A run stuffer like Grady Jackson might have been an option had he not re-signed with Atlanta.
I'm almost certain the Raiders will add another outside linebacker. The team has already worked out Abdul Hodge and Brandon Moore. Expect more OLBs to get looks in the coming days because contracts signed after Week 1 aren't guaranteed for the rest of the season.
Question: With Joseph cut, that leaves two DTs, five DEs, and seven LBs on the roster. Does that not sound like the makings of a base 3-4 package? Thomas Howard's blog avoids all questions on the subject and some mediots (no offense) have reported seeing the 3-4 in goal line situations. What do you think, Jay?
Mark, Colorado Springs
Answer: With your math I'm assuming you're counting Wakefield as a DE and forgot Sands as a DT. The Raiders did work on some 3-4 looks during training camp. I expect to see some of those looks during the season.
And Howard is smart not to discuss the 3-4. His coaches would probably try to shut his site down if he were giving out secrets of what the team might do.
But I don't see the team going to a base 3-4. That would require possibly making Derrick Burgess a fulltime LB. And could Tommy Kelly and Gerard Warren be effective as fulltime DEs in a 3-4?
It would be more likely to see some 3-down linemen looks in passing situations.
Question: Why are they keeping Mario Henderson on the roster? He hasn't been able to block anyone this preseason.
Jim, Crestview, Fla.
Answer: Because Henderson is a third-round pick from 2007. He didn't impress in the preseason, but he will be given every chance to win a starting job - again - next season. The Raiders don't want to put him on the field this year.
Question: Do you see talent in Arman Shields and do you see him making an impact next year like Bush has this year?
Answer: Shields definitely has talent. When he practiced, he looked explosive when running routes. He has good size and showed promise. The Raiders said his knee injury isn't related to his knee injury in college, even though it's the same knee he injured at Richmond.
This season will be spent strengthening that knee in hopes that Shields can become an impact player next season.