2006 season recap
You can't go home again
As Dean Martin said to his fellow Rat Packers in Ocean's Eleven, "If you want to capture lightning in a bottle, I won't stop you. Just don't try to capture yesterday." That's advice Al Davis should have heeded before the disastrous rehiring of Art Shell. Davis once said that letting Shell go in 1994 was his biggest mistake. A devastating 2-14 record in 2006 doesn't support that argument.
Key camp questions
How will the team respond to first-year coach Lane Kiffin?
Al Davis knows how to pick young coaches, as Mike Shanahan and Jon Gruden came to the Raiders with little experience and both won Super Bowls. Of course, they didn't win those titles with the Raiders, but that's just splitting hairs. Davis' eye for coaching talent at least lends credence to his hiring of the 32-year-old Kiffin, who, while never a head coach, did call the plays for USC.
Can Robert Gallery's career be saved?
New offensive line coach Tom Cable had success in Atlanta -- the Falcons ranked first in rushing yards last season -- but he faces quite a challenge improving Oakland's line. The key will be Gallery, the former can't-miss prospect who has already been through numerous position moves and coordinators in his short tenure in Oakland. The best bet might be to keep him at one spot and see how he performs.
Can the defense duplicate the success from last season?
The defense was the lone highlight for the Raiders in a drab year. The team did keep Rob Ryan as coordinator, so the defense should continue to do all that it can. The looming question is the morale of the defense if the offensive side of the football fails to score points again.
Key position battle
JaMarcus Russell vs. Josh McCown
Russell will be the starter in Oakland. It's just a matter of how soon. How Russell fares in training camp and in preseason games will go a long way toward determining that. McCown has the edge for now, but don't be surprised if Russell becomes the starter sometime around Week 8.
RB Michael Bush
He would have been a surefire first-round pick had he not broken his leg early in the '06 season. Bush will not be rushed back into action, but could get some playing time in the wake of Dominic Rhodes' suspension. Bush figures to be a key component as Kiffin wants to mold his running attack similar to what he had at USC, with multiple backs carrying the load.
Player on the spot
WR Jerry Porter
Porter never saw eye to eye with Shell and spent most of last season in the doghouse. With Shell and Randy Moss gone, fans will get an early chance to see if Porter is going to have an impact this season.
Jordan fell from the level of elite fantasy status after a horrific 2006 season that saw him experience statistical decreases across the board. Now he must contend with Rhodes and Bush in the backfield. At best, Jordan is a borderline No. 3 or No. 4 fantasy runner.