Staff writer Matt Kawahara analyzes the Raiders as training camp opens:
1. Who emerges as Darren McFadden's backup?
McFadden is one of the game's most dynamic runners when healthy, but his injury history suggests the need for a reliable backup plan. Neither Mike Goodson nor Taiwan Jones, the two frontrunners, has much of a track record. Goodson, who owns a slight edge in experience (103 carries and 40 catches for the Carolina Panthers in 2010) and has a bigger build, missed much of last season because of injury. Jones, who saw limited playing time as a rookie last season (16 carries and two catches), has sprinter's speed and the benefit of a full offseason after the 2011 lockout.
2. Will the veterans be pushed at cornerback?
The corner position may be the biggest question mark for the Raiders' defense. Offseason acquisitions Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer, both 30, have a good shot at starting but combined last season for just one start and six tackles (Bartell missed time with a neck injury; Spencer saw his playing time with the 49ers dwindle). Second-year corners DeMarcus Van Dyke and Chimdi Chekwa are both promising, and general manager Reggie McKenzie said before organized team activities broke that competition is open at the position.
3. How smooth will Stefen Wisniewski fit at center?
Wisniewski, solid at left guard as a rookie last year, is making the switch to center this season, but he hasn't been able to take part in offseason activities while rehabbing from a shoulder procedure. That means he'll have to play some serious catch-up learning the Raiders' new zone-blocking scheme and meshing with the rest of the O-line as its primary voice. Wisniewski started 13 games at center in college and was drafted as a center, so it isn't totally foreign. He is expected to be healthy for training camp.
4. Can Dennis Allen instill some discipline?
To hear players tell it, the Raiders' new regime sounds like a team of drill sergeants with how much they're preaching discipline. The Raiders took their penalty problems to a new level last season, setting records for penalties and penalty yardage. Throughout minicamp and OTAs, players said, Allen has been harping on clean play and showing slides of penalized plays to illustrate his points. But, as defensive tackle Richard Seymour said, disciplined play starts with good practice habits when the pads go on.
5. Where does Terrelle Pryor fit?
Pryor had an inauspicious start to his career last year, sitting out the first five games under suspension before playing just one snap that was nullified by a false start. With the benefit of a true offseason, though, he has seemingly impressed Allen and McKenzie with his work ethic and eagerness to learn the offense. Pryor would seem like the obvious No. 3 quarterback behind starter Carson Palmer and newcomer Matt Leinart, who has experience in coordinator Greg Knapp's offense, but the second-year player sounds intent on competing for the backup job.