Raiders notes: First-team players fend off training camp challenges

Published: Friday, Aug. 24, 2012 - 12:00 am | Page 6C
Last Modified: Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012 - 8:24 am

NAPA – The intrigue of a battle for a starting spot between healthy players has been mostly absent from the Raiders' training camp.

Entering camp, two areas were thought to be enticing: whether veterans Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer would be challenged at cornerback (turns out not much) and if one of the tight ends would establish himself, which Brandon Myers appeared to have done.

The Raiders broke camp Thursday and scattered from Napa looking nearly the same as they did when they arrived. Aside from a few positions affected by injuries, the first-team offense and defense have hardly changed since early offseason workouts.

"I think there's been competition," Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. "But the guys who are listed No. 1 on the depth chart, right now we feel like those are the guys that give us the best chance of winning."

Allen will get another look at those players Saturday against Detroit, with the starters expecting their most extensive playing time of the preseason.

That should include Myers, who missed the Raiders' first two games after injuring his shoulder in practice Aug. 10, days after Allen all but anointed him the starting tight end.

It will likely also include running back Darren McFadden, after Allen said earlier this week, "I want to get him some work."

The Raiders have managed to keep McFadden spry in camp, and he has looked potent in practices and the first two games.

Wide receivers Denarius Moore (hamstring) and Jacoby Ford (foot) are still dealing with injuries suffered during camp, but Allen is hopeful both will be ready for the Sept. 10 season opener against San Diego.

Allen said the Raiders made the most of their time in Napa while learning new offensive and defensive schemes.

"I thought it was good work," Allen said. "I thought we had a chance to get better. Our guys worked extremely hard. We still have a long way to go and a lot of things we have to continue to improve on, but I thought it was a good foundation to build on."

Several players agreed there's still room for improvement when the team resumes practices at its Alameda headquarters next week.

"I'm a firm believer that the cream will always rise to the top," defensive tackle Richard Seymour said. "I think we're in a position now to continue what we've started to build. We've laid the foundation, but just because you got a good foundation don't mean you've got a good roof over your head, either."

Like the depth chart, the Raiders' roster leaves Napa with few changes. They cut defensive tackle Travis Ivey early in camp and placed linebacker Mario Kurn and receiver Duke Calhoun on injured reserve after both suffered season-ending ACL tears. Oakland's lone signing was linebacker Korey Bosworth.

Biding time – The availability of quarterback Matt Leinart, who cut his right index finger against Arizona, will be a game-time decision Saturday.

The left-hander said Thursday he hasn't taken many snaps this week in practice after needing two stitches to close the cut.

Leinart has completed 16 of 24 passes in the preseason for 164 yards and a passer rating of 86.1.

"We'll see," Leinart said about playing Saturday. "Got a good little gash on there. Been doing as much as I can this week. I just want to get it healthy as quick as possible."

The status of Seymour and tight end Richard Gordon also will be game-time decisions.

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