Anttaj Hawthorne...

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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Raiders' Hawthorne is a year older and wiser

By Jason Jones
Published 12:01 am PDT Wednesday, September 6, 2006

ALAMEDA -- A year ago, Anttaj Hawthorne had to play the hand he had dealt himself.

Regarded as one of college's best defensive tackles out of Wisconsin, Hawthorne went from a possible first-day draft pick to a sixth-round selection who did not make the Raiders' 53-man roster.

Hawthorne's draft stock plummeted after a positive marijuana test at the NFL scouting combine, and he had to fight just to make the team.

He didn't make the cut but was signed to the practice squad and on the 53-man roster for the final five games of the season, playing in two games.

After an impressive stint in NFL Europe and a solid training camp, Hawthorne made the team this time.
"It feels good because last year I felt that I let a lot of people down, my family and my coaches from Wisconsin," Hawthorne said. "It's a burden off my back knowing I made it."

Hawthorne spent his time in NFL Europe with the Frankfurt Galaxy studying the Raiders' playbook so he would not fall behind.

"I've learned so much about offenses and their tendencies," Hawthorne said. "Going over in Europe and working a lot on my technique, that helped me a lot -- especially with playing the runs, the formations and what kind of blocking we're going to get."

Once called "the best defensive lineman I've ever coached" by former Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez, Hawthorne showed the work ethic needed to stick.

"His motor's gotten a lot better," defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. "He understands he's not in college anymore where you can pick your spots to make plays. It's an every-down battle. He's really picked that part of his game up. That's probably why he's here now."

Hawthorne is ready to contribute more this season. Sapp sees good things ahead the more Hawthorne plays.

"The kid's a good player. He just needs the experience of being out on the field," Sapp said. "Nothing teaches you this game but this game."

Real preparation -- The Raiders will delve into the game plan for the Chargers in depth today.

The Raiders spent time in training camp slowly implementing schemes for San Diego, and that means preparing to face Chargers star linebacker Shawne Merriman.

Merriman (6-foot-4, 274 pounds) is bigger than many defensive ends. He was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year with 57 tackles and 10 sacks in 15 games and already is considered by many the best outside linebacker in the NFL.

"He plays with a lot of tenacity," Raiders coach Art Shell said. "He's a little bigger guy than say Junior Seau was, I believe. You have to know where he is. He's good at blitzing and can play the run when he has to."
I already knew about his motor this season but the more I listen to him, he also has a chip on his shoulder...pride...that is exciting :)
I've heard a lot of people say he had no talent, but my eyes told me otherwise. I hope he continues to have this type of hunger, because he can be one of the best.
Starting to look like you had it nailed Rup and AP...this guy has looked good to me in the preseason. Hopefully he'll make an impact soon enough.
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