With the exception of linebacker Sam Williams likely season-ending knee injury, the team escaped camp without any significantly crippling health problems. In addition, second-year head coach Norv Turner came away from training camp believing that his team has developed solid chemistry despite a 0-2 record in exhibition contests. The Raiders host the Arizona Cardinals Friday night at McAfee Coliseum.
"The number one thing we had to accomplish coming in here had nothing to do with the X's and O's, blocking, catching," Turner said. "It was to become a team and a close-knit group. I think we made great progress with that. The chemistry on this team is outstanding. We know that every team in this league during a 16 game season is tested."
The Oakland Raiders struggled to a 5-11 record last season. Oakland showed flashes of brilliance offensively but struggled at times in large part to having the NFL's worst ground game. The Raiders hope that acquiring LaMont Jordan will fix that problem to compliment a retooled but solid offensive line. Oakland also added more passing game firepower in trading for wide receiver Randy Moss to go along with quarterback Kerry Collins and wide receivers Jerry Porter and Ronald Curry.
Defensively, however, Oakland made only a modest amount of moves to improve but Turner believes the team will be better on both sides of the ball this year if for no other reason than having a full season to absorb the system.
"When you're more sure of what you're doing, you can concentrate more on what the other team is doing," Turner said. "That way during the week you're not trying to fix what you do."
"I sit in all of the different position meetings. I watch interaction with coaches and players. You see interaction with the offense and defense. It's the seriousness about, ‘Hey, let's do this and do it right.'"
NOTES— RB Justin Fargas has a sore knee. His status for Friday's game is uncertain. … No. 2 QB Marques Tuiasosopo will play despite a right index finger injury while No. 3 QB Andrew Walter will not play due to a strained groin.
Vince D'Adamo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org