The Oakland Raiders blew up their corner backs group this off season, getting rid of the three players who accumulated the most field time in 2011. With Chris Johnson, Stanford Routt and Lito Sheppard gone, the Raiders only had two CB's on their roster in second year players Chimdi Chekwa and DeMarcus Van Dyke. This forced Reggie McKenzie to go out and sign new corner backs in the free agent market. One of the new corners for the Raiders is former St. Louis Rams corner Ron Bartell.
Last Season: Peyton Manning is not the only newbie to the AFC West that is trying to prove a neck injury should not be a concern. Ron Bartell is coming off of a neck injury that forced him to miss all but one game in 2011. His injury and subsequent lack of playing time are a large reason why the Raiders were able to sign Bartell at a good price.
Big Question: Will injuries be an issue with Bartell in Oakland? Signing a guy who basically did not play in 2011 is a scary proposition. It is hard to tell if a player will be able to return to full force after a serious injury. Now, as training camp starts, Bartell is sidelined with a hamstring injury. While that has nothing to do with his neck, the Raiders are very thin at corner back and cannot afford any injuries.
Projection: If Bartell can stay healthy, he could have a very good year in Oakland. Bartell is playing with a bit of a chip on his shoulder after going largely unnoticed with the St. Louis Rams and not getting much attention as a free agent this off season. He will likely be the Raiders number one corner back, but hoping for anything more than a solid season is likely asking for too much.