Four points to Raiders training camp

What's it going to take to get the Raiders out of their tailspin and back into the playoffs?

Is it possible for Lane Kiffin and company to get everything turned around in one year? These days anything's possible in the NFL, but to even get back to respectability, Oakland has to settle some important issues at training camp.

Here are four items the Raiders will be looking to address and that will be key in moving the team forward:

Fixing the front five: Oakland's offensive line was a mess in 2006, and though the team has taken action to get better, there are still serious questions remaining.

Line coach Tom Cable doesn't have a lot of time to get things corrected and he'll be working with pretty much the same unit the Raiders had last season. If Cable can work his magic, -- especially with former first-round pick Robert Gallery -- Oakland can be a playoff contender. But if the status remains quo, you can start making vacation plans for January.

Find a tight end: The Raiders will try to stretch the field at times, but with worries about the O-line, Oakland quarterbacks could again be under heavy pressure from opposing defenses. If that's the case, the tight ends will take on added importance, both as blockers and as safety-net receivers.

Rookie Zach Miller seems to be the real deal but Lane Kiffin needs to make sure of it. This has been a position the Raiders have overlooked for some time and the offense has suffered as a result.

Shore up the run defense: As good as Oakland's defense was a year ago, the Raiders still were very mediocre when it came to shutting down opposing running backs and had problems making the big stop when they needed to.

The team re-signed Terdell Sands, which should help, but he's the only defensive lineman with any real bulk on the roster. There are also questions about depth at the position, something the Raiders need to address in the preseason.

Settle the safety situation: Oakland had the No. 1-ranked secondary in 2006 but how much of that was smoke and mirrors? Teams didn't pass as much against the Raiders, and when they did, Stuart Schweigert and Michael Huff struggled at times in coverage.

The recent addition of veteran Donovin Darius should help and gives defensive coordinator Rob Ryan the flexibility to use the 4-2-5 defense Oakland used with good success in 2005.


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