Raiders open camp, ready to turn page

Training camp means different things to different teams but for the 2004 Oakland Raiders it's like being in catchup mode.

The Oakland Raiders opened training camp Friday in Napa, CA, looking to wipe the slate clean from a 2003 season that got progressively uglier. Oakland started the morning practice with helmets, shorts and jerseys followed by pads in the afternoon. The Raiders had 13 players finish the season on injured reserve and saw the relationship between players and coaches become increasingly rancorous on the way to a 4-12 season one year after reaching the Super Bowl.

The Raiders fired head coach Bill Callahan, who is now in the same capacity with the University of Nebraska, and hired Norv Turner as his replacement. Oakland will have many new faces, virtually an entire new coaching staff and new schemes. Turner, however, sees a little bit of virtue with playing catchup.

"I told our guys that we have to catch up with the teams that have been together," Turner said. "I think sometimes that creates a sense of urgency. Sometimes with a new staff you are more thorough. You can tell the players listen more intently."

Oakland will have a different approach on defense under new defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who replaced Chuck Bresnahan. The Raiders will mix the 3-4 look along with their base 4-3. Most importantly, the defense will feature a more aggressive posture.

"We've got a lot of new faces," said free safety Ray Buchanan, who signed with Oakland after Atlanta released him. "That's what the offseason is all about, to build chemistry."

The offense, meanwhile, will feature a mixture of the power running game and the vertical passing game. So, gone are the days of short passes.

"I wouldn't say it's completely different," Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon said referring to the current system. "There is some carryover but it's like learning a new language. There's a lot of new concepts in the passing game. It takes more than just an offensive scheme. You have to have players that make it work. You have to have coaches that call the plays. I think I flourished in the other system and I can flourish in this system. We got off to a rough start a year ago with the injuries. We finished terribly. There's been a big emphasis to try to rectify things. We've addressed a lot of different needs. I think it's going to be a competitive training camp for everybody."

This and that

The was the only unsigned Raiders draft pick was linebacker Andre Sommersell, a seventh-round draft pick from Colorado State. Sommersell missed the morning practice but reported for the afternoon as the deal had completed. ... The video tower is now housed between the two fields instead of on the outside of the East field. Running back J.R. Redmond was not at practice due to a death in the family. ... Tight end David Newman missed practice due to a viral infextion. ... The Raiders cut center Pete Campion and wide receiver Quentin McCord.


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