Asomugha, Gabriel, And Walter....

Angry Pope

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5/28/2006

By Steve Corkran
Contra Costa Times


Many coaches don't like playing a fifth exhibition game because of the added wear and tear on their players. However, new coach Art Shell welcomes the added game as an opportunity for his staff to get an extended look at their players and to become acclimated to one another. The extra game gives Shell more time to evaluate new QB Aaron Brooks, rookie SS Michael Huff and a revamped offensive line, among other things. It also gives the Raiders a week jump on every other team except Philadelphia, something Shell hopes will help the Raiders get off to a fast start in four opening games they feel they can win. . . .

Starting CB Nnamdi Asomugha has developed into a solid player, in large part, by learning from those around him. He has had the good fortune of watching four-time Pro Bowl CB Charles Woodson and getting instruction from Hall of Fame CB Willie Brown. Also, he has spent considerable time studying videotape and picking the brain of Hall of Fame-bound DB Rod Woodson at Woodson's Bay Area home during his time away from the team's training facility. Woodson, like Asomugha, played both cornerback and safety, so he knows the difficulty in making the conversion, as Asomugha did his rookie season.

SCOUTING REPORT: Second-year QB Andrew Walter has healed from the shoulder and groin injuries that plagued him his rookie season. The Raiders intend to turn him loose in training camp and see if he is ready to handle the starting role, if not this season, then next. He arrived in Oakland with impeccable credentials, having set the Pac-10 record for career touchdown passes at Arizona State. He is tall, smart and blessed with an above-average arm. His lone downside is his lack of mobility. However, the Raiders don't mind that as long as Walter makes the plays they expect him to make. Shell has said the quarterback spot is up for grabs, though everyone concedes the spot to Brooks barring an injury or poor play in exhibition games. For now, it's Walter's job long-term, especially given Brooks' contract stands to be terminated after this season and sixth-year player Marques Tuiasosopo's contract expires at the end of this season.

YOUTH MOVEMENT: WR Doug Gabriel has been nothing short of sensational in exhibition games the past two years. However, he has been overlooked, for the most part, once the regular season starts. Playing behind top-flight talent such as Randy Moss and Jerry Porter hasn't helped his cause. However, the time has arrived for him to become more than a role player. His ability to get open deep and make huge plays is intriguing enough that the Raiders will find more ways to get him on the field this season. To that end, look for Gabriel to be used more often in two- and three-receiver sets and be viewed as more than a secondary option on those plays. He has above-average speed, reliable hands and a penchant for making spectacular catches. He also has tremendous confidence that he is as good as any player on the field. This is a player who has the potential to supplant Porter as a starter in the not-too-distant future.

SAFETIES ANALYSIS: B-minus. First-round pick Michael Huff arrives with a ton of potential and promise. Stuart Schweigert is getting better each year. For once, there is depth here.
 
From Vic Carucci....


(May 30, 2006) -- By most accounts, the Oakland Raiders will go with Aaron Brooks as their starting quarterback this season.

However, it is likely that Brooks will operate on a fairly short leash. Andrew Walter, who sat out his rookie season in 2005 due to a sports hernia, should get plenty of exposure at quarterback during the preseason. If he clearly outperforms Brooks, he could end up with the No. 1 job.


Andrew Walter hasn't thrown a regular-season pass, but the Raiders know he has a cannon.

With so much of Walter's game in need of development, it seems more likely that he will use this summer to establish the framework of becoming the Raiders' starter in 2007 and beyond.

Brooks can be erratic, but his edge in experience, terrific mobility and determination to make the most of a second chance after his disappointing career with the New Orleans Saints figures to work to his advantage -- at least for one season.

"Nothing is promised to anybody," Raiders coach Art Shell said earlier in the offseason. "But (Brooks) is a part of where we're headed. I like him. …I think he brings leadership. He's a guy that's been under the center and played in this league, a guy who has thrown a lot of touchdowns in this league. So he brings a lot to the table."

Shell also likes what he has seen of Walter.

"I was really excited about him throwing the football," Shell said. "I remember watching (videotape of Walter's preseason appearances last year) and calling (offensive coordinator) Tom (Walsh) and saying, 'Come look at this.' The kid has a lot of talent, a lot of confidence in his abilities."
 
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