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Plenty of new faces as Raiders set to open training camp

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Matt Flynn lost a starting job in training camp with the Seattle Seahawks last year and will look to avoid the same fate with the Raiders this year. - JEFF CHIU/AP FILE PHOTO
  • jeff chiu/ap file photo
  • Matt Flynn lost a starting job in training camp with the Seattle Seahawks last year and will look to avoid the same fate with the Raiders this year.

Few teams, if any, have had as much turnover as the Raiders the past year and half.

The roster that finished 8-8 and in a three-way tie for first in the AFC West in 2011 has been gutted, so much so that players may receive "Hello, my name is _____" tags as they enter training camp in Napa this year.

The first year of the Reggie McKenzie-Dennis Allen era in Oakland wasn't anything to write home about, as Oakland stumbled to a 4-12 finish. Judging by the offseason buzz, many are expecting more of the same in 2013.

ESPN's Ron Jaworski's ranked Matt Flynn as the 32nd-best starting QB in the NFL in his preseason list and Pro Football Talk ranked Oakland dead last in its preseason power rankings.

One thing is for certain, things are never dull with the Raiders.

Here's a look at three major storylines to follow as Oakland reports to training camp this week, with its first practice set for Friday.

Is Flynn in?

Of the multitude of moves the Raiders made this offseason, none was bigger than jettisoning quarterback Carson Palmer to the Arizona Cardinals and bringing in Matt Flynn from the Seattle Seahawks. It puts Flynn in the same position he was in last year with the Seahawks. Flynn was the assumed starter at QB as training camp opened, but had a young gun nipping at his heels. Last season, Flynn wound up losing the job before the regular season opened to then-rookie Russell Wilson, who took the league by storm. Now, Flynn is trying to avoid deja vu with either Terrelle Pryor or rookie Tyler Wilson usurping him. While preseason games are often useless, every pass will be worth monitoring in Oakland.

Hayden's health

Rookie cornerback D.J. Hayden's talent is undeniable, but it's his health that was a major issue coming into the NFL Draft and the issue still looms large with camp around the corner. It's hard not to root for Hayden, who tore a blood vessel while in college at Houston that required life-saving surgery. The 23-year-old worked his way back and wound up a first round draft pick. But after practicing with the Raiders in May, Hayden underwent another surgery, this time to clear out scar tissue. Hayden is supposed to be ready for camp, but how much remains to be seen. On a team that is rebuilding, the Raiders can't afford to get limited or no production out of the No. 12 overall pick in the draft.

Getting defensive

While much of the focus on the Raiders in training camp — and pretty much every other NFL camp — will be on the quarterback position, the defense is where the most holes need to be filled. Of last year's starters, only three still remain with the team, and only safety Tyvon Branch and defensive end Lamarr Houston appear to be locks to start again. Now a complete overhaul on defense might not be the worst thing in the world after the unit allowed the fifth-most points per game in the NFL last season. Charles Woodson is back in silver and black, but other than that, the front office made a litany of under-the-radar signings. The new additions need to emerge in camp if 2013 is going to be different than 2012.