Hopes are high for a team that hasn't seen the playoffs for a decade but the Oakland Raiders still have roster questions. As the preseason opens can they avoid phone calls to Cedric Benson or Plaxico Burress for help?
Denarius Moore status is a big factor in the Burress question
Oakland has stayed on the Burress radar more often recently than they would like. No team likes having to consider a 34-year-old receiver fresh out of prison. It doesn't matter if that same receiver caught 10 touchdown passes a year ago. Plaxico has a history of causing locker room problems and while he is a big target he isn't viewed as the greatest solution for the Raiders offense. Then again beggars aren't choosers in the NFL. Oakland thought they headed into the season with a young, talented group of receivers but injuries and misdemeanors have changed that. Top man Darius Heyward-Bey continues his court attendance for a DUI. Promising youngster Denarius Moore hasn't returned from a pulled hamstring and dynamic return man Jacoby Ford sits dinged up too. If quarterback Carson Palmer can't get the passing offense going through the first couple preseason games the team front office may have to take a deep breath and give Burress a call.
Health of Darren McFadden focuses Michael Bush replacement search
Receiver isn't the only question mark for Oakland. Their running game took a big hit in free agency when solid backup Michael Bush left for Chicago. Now the reins are squarely in the hands of starter Darren McFadden. Given his injury history there is every reason for fans to become a little nervous. That is why the preseason games coming up are extra important to coaches. Nobody is sure what the Raiders have behind McFadden in players like Lonyae Miller, Mike Goodson and Taiwan Jones. Two of those three are already nursing injuries. With Miller the only one left, he must do well in the first preseason game or whispers could start about the team renewing talks with free agent Cedric Benson. The former Cincinnati Bengals starter played with quarterback Carson Palmer and is only 29. He does have an injury history and trouble with the law like Burress. Still his steady, workhorse running can come in handy for a banged up team.
The Oakland Raiders have high hopes for Denarius Moore and Darren McFadden yet injuries are part of NFL life. If Cedric Benson and Plaxico Burress are anything, they can at least offer insurance and short-term stability. At a price of course.