He made sure it was clear to one and all that it was just a starting point and that things could change, but Oakland Raiders coach Art Shell pointed to at least two first-unit surprise assignments to look for Monday when the team launches training camp in Napa.

But perhaps the biggest surprise is that neither involves first-round draft pick Michael Huff.

Third-round pick Paul McQuistan, who lined up at left tackle his past 42 games at Weber State, has shown enough to rank as the No.1 right guard ahead of veteran Brad Badger.

Second-round selection Thomas Howard, a strong-side linebacker at UTEP his last two seasons, also has a new assignment — right-side linebacker, the "Will," or weak-side, position.

Kirk Morrison, who started on the weak side as a rookie last year, is now playing middle linebacker with third-year veteran Sam Williams outside on thestrong side.

The new look at linebacker means Danny Clark, who led the team in tackles the past two seasons, is not currently considered a starter.

"Danny is an integral part of this football team," Shell said. "We are looking at players. Nothing is etched in stone. We don't know where we'll end up for sure. We have a long ways to go through training camp."

Shell also confirmed that Aaron Brooks will be the starting quarterback going into camp.

"Still, there's nothing etched in stone," Shell said. "We're still going to take a look at what we have.


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You've got to have somebody start out, so he's the guy who's starting out."

The one unit about which Shell was less candid was the secondary, where top draft pick Huff, a safety, has not yet been anointed a starter.

"He is not penciled in," Shell said. "I don't say anybody is a starter. We're going to work them all. We'll come out at the end of training camp with the starter."

Players report to the Napa Valley Marriott training camp Monday with the first practice scheduled for Tuesday at 8:45 a.m. The Napa portion of camp will run until Aug.23 with the team leaving Napa twice for road exhibition games in Canton, Ohio (vs. Philadelphia, which opened camp Thursday), and Minnesota. They also have a road game in Seattle on Aug.31 before opening the regular season at home Monday, Sept. 11, against San Diego.

McQuistan's ascension to starting right guard has been in the making for weeks. The 6-foot-6, 312-pounder, who was credited with 60 knockdown blocks and eight touchdown-resulting blocks last season at Weber State, has made an impression on the Raiders from the time they first saw his aggressive style on film.

Shell said he had no qualms about starting a rookie.

"I want the best football players out there," he aid. "In this league you can play with young guys if the guy has talent. They're going to make some mistakes, but you can live with them, if they make them aggressively. There are rookies starting every year on the offensive line, so I would feel comfortable if Paul would continue to grow as a football player.

"He's a smart kid ... one of the smarter kids on this team. We look forward to him working hard, continuing his growth and being part of what we expect will be a pretty doggone good offensive line."

The remainder of the line, as it stands, is Robert Gallery at left tackle, Barry Sims at left guard, Jake Grove at center and Langston Walker at right tackle.

EXTRA POINTS: Shell said there were discussions about signing defensive tackle Grady Jackson, a free agent from Green Bay and a former Raider, but that nothing materialized. "We feel good about the guys we have now," Shell said. The three key tackles are Warren Sapp, Terdell Sands and Tommy Kelly. ... The Raiders cut four players: LB Roger Cooper, DE Jeff Green, LB Shawn Morgan and G Cameron Spikes. ... The team announced an interactive game-day area for young fans called the "Raider Rookie Zone." Kids of all ages will be able to jump in a Raiders inflatable bounce house, throw a pass, kick a field goal, solve puzzles or color while seated at child-sized picnic tables. The Rookie Zone will be on the east side of McAfee Coliseum between sections 335 and 355. For more information, log on to raidersforkids.com.