Five players who can make a difference this season:
NO. 20, RUNNING BACK
Acquired: 2008 draft, first round
Experience: Fifth season
Why he matters: There is no question McFadden will be the centerpiece of the Raiders offense as long as hes healthy. If he makes it through the season without injury, though, itll be a first. His presence alone creates more opportunities for Carson Palmer and the passing game.
Hes the guy were counting on to be our bell cow. - DENNIS ALLEN Raiders coach
NO. 55, LINEBACKER
Acquired: 2010 draft, 1st round
Experience: Third season
Why he matters: McClain got caught out of position too often last season, one of many facets that must improve. Maybe more important: Will he be comfortable taking on a leadership role? And will his off-field transgressions (he is appealing his assault conviction and awaiting a jury trial) cost him time on it?
Hes one of those guys that were counting on to be one of our leaders (and) one of our playmakers. Hes got to step up. - DENNIS ALLEN Raiders coach
NO. 77, DEFENSIVE END
Acquired: 2009 draft, third round
Experience: Fourth season
Why he matters: Shaughnessys return from injury (in Week 3 last season) should provide a boost to a run defense that finished last in the NFL in 2011 in yards per carry (5.1). The Raiders missed Shaughnessys ability to pressure the quarterback (seven sacks in 2010).
I think hes the best (defensive end) in the NFL against the run. It was a big blow for us when he went down. - RICHARD SEYMOUR Raiders defensive lineman
NO. 36, CORNERBACK
Acquired: 2012 free agent
Experience: Ninth season
Why he matters: Spencer played sparingly last year after the 49ers decided he didnt have a place on their depth chart. The Raiders brought him in to start in a division that now features Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Matt Cassel. If Spencer falters, there isnt much experience behind him.
Whats nice about Shawntae and Ron (Bartell) is theyve seen a lot of routes in this league, a lot of plays. Theres a benefit to that. - JASON TARVER Raiders defensive coordinator
NO. 85, WIDE RECEIVER
Acquired: 2009 draft, first round
Experience: Fourth season
Why he matters: The Raiders need Heyward-Bey to build on his breakout 2011 season (64 catches, 975 yards) and be a reliable target for Carson Palmer. Aside from Denarius Moore and Jacoby Ford, the Raiders dont return another receiver with an NFL catch.
His route runnings better, hes catching the ball cleaner, his blocking has been good. Were going to ask our receivers to do a lot of things. - DENNIS ALLEN Raiders coach