Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

February 21, 2009
The Raider youth movement

"Tom (Cable) tried to start breaking it in but there was resistance from certain assistants and they're not here. There was resistance ... The idea was to go young because we were young. We had good young players. Not everyone believes our players are good."

--Raiders owner Al Davis on wanting to see young players get on the field.

Tyvon Branch: Are you going to be healthy after shoulder surgery to participate in offseason workouts?

Trevor Scott: Can you become a consistent pass rusher?

Chaz Schilens and Johnnie Lee Higgins: Can either of you ready to be "the man" at receiver?

Well all these young players better get ready.

The Raiders decision to release Gibril Wilson, Kalimba Edwards and Ronald Curry had a lot to do with money - the Raiders saved $6.2 million against the salary cap with the moves.

But these moves are also a nod to the young players the Raiders have on the roster. (If the Raiders don't stunt their development by bringing in veterans to take their jobs).

But Friday's moves give some young players a chance to assert themselves.

Branch was Wilson's backup at strong safety before a shoulder injury ended his season. Branch has elite speed that would likely have been used a lot on special teams with Wilson still on the roster.

Branch said recently his recovery from shoulder surgey is progressing well. So a healthy Branch might be the starting strong safety.

Scott was the third option as a pass rusher at defensive end when Derrick Burgess and Edwards were healthy.

Scott totaled five sacks as a rookie to tie Edwards for the team lead. That figure should improve as Scott adds some weight and with more playing time.

The Raiders have struggled to find a complement to Burgess for some time, but it looks as if Scott has that job.

Davis and Cable have pointed to the play of Schilens and Higgins as examples of the team's bright future.

Curry's role was limited last season so the transition won't be as dramatic. Between Curry's struggles early and coaches going out of their way to call him slow, Curry's release was far from a surprise and Curry is happy to have a chance to move on.

So whom else can the Raiders release to make room for a young player to grow?

*Tackle Kwame Harris is a candidate to be released because the Raiders would receive a lot of cap relief and he'd already lost his starting job to Mario Henderson, a third-round draft pick in 2007.

*If the Raiders want to make the offense the Darren McFadden-Michael Bush Show, they'd have to let go of Justin Fargas. Until McFadden proves he can stay healthy, that's not an option.

Then again, the Raiders are fond of Louis Rankin, so that's something to keep tabs on.

*Depending on what the Raiders decide to do with Javon Walker, he might be someone the Raiders look to release or come to an injury settlement if his recovery from an ankle injury is slow.

But the message is clear. Youth will be served with the Raiders.

And it's the right move.

--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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