Michael Huff, Randy Moss And Other...

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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It has been awhile since the Oakland Raiders drafted a safety in the first round who made a difference.

Derrick Gibson, taken No. 28 overall in 2001 out of Florida State, remains on the team but can't stay healthy or effective long enough to be regarded as anything but a disappointment.

Patrick Bates, No. 12 overall out of Texas A&M, walked out on the team and was eventually traded to Atlanta.

You have to go back to Jack Tatum, the 19th pick in the first round of the 1971 draft, to find a first-round safety drafted by Al Davis who altered the game in a significant way.

The last homegrown safety to make a Pro Bowl was Vann McElroy, a third-round choice in the 1980s who now works as an agent.

Enter Michael Huff, Oakland's top pick in the 2006 draft. Taken at No. 9, he is the highest drafted safety in franchise history. Except that it appears his designation as a safety is more a loose guideline than a hard-and-fast position.

Early indications are that rather than settling in and getting comfortable at one position, Huff will be utilized like a chess piece by defensive coordinator Rob Ryan.

"Kind of like old-style football," Huff said following autograph session at a Raiders-sponsored youth football camp. "You don't give a person a position, you just put the best people on the field and let them play."

Huff will enable Ryan to expand and improve on the "Wolverine" role developed for Charles Woodson last season. It placed Woodson in the middle of the field on some downs, lined him up in coverage on others and used him as a blitzer as a change-of-pace.

Woodson, however, was lost to a broken fibula in the fifth game of the season, never to return. Perhaps because of injury concerns, Woodson had no great love for playing in the box near the line of scrimmage.

He was a cornerback who played some safety. Huff is a safety who will play some corner. Regardless, Huff willingly will play anywhere — and figures to be a more diligent worker in the film room and practice field.

"If they come out with three receivers, they don't have to bring in another corner just to cover the slot. I can do that," Huff said. "Or I can play in the box. It just helps the defense more."

Veteran safety Jarrod Cooper likes what he sees so far.

"Everybody looks good and fast now," Cooper said. "When you put the pads on, things change a little bit. But I haven't seen him take a hesitant step and that's a telltale sign. He's what they said he was."


—Backup quarterback Marques Tuiasosopo spent a recent evening at Municipal Park in San Jose, watching the Inland Empire 66ers face the San Jose Giants of the Class A California League.

Inland Empire's third baseman is 20-year-old Matt Tuiasosopo, a third-round draft pick who received a $2.29 million signing bonus from the Seattle Mariners to go pro and bypass a career playing quarterback for the University of Washington.

Marques, who said he watches Matt every chance he gets, said he has marveled how much his brother has improved playing baseball every day.

However, Matt struck out three times in the series opener against San Jose, delighting the local crowd. Matt Tuiasosopo was designated that night as the "Beer Batter," meaning that every time he struck out, beer was sold for half price.

"He gave out a lot of beer," Marques Tuiasosopo said.

—The Raiders played host to a youth football camp co-sponsored with California Youth Charities which played host to more than 250 boys and girls aged 14 and under, representing more than 15 states.

Coach Art Shell gave the opening statement, and then even served as the personal escort off the field to a boy who suffered a bruised shoulder.

—Wide receiver Kevin McMahan was excited to be the center of attention in "Mr. Irrelevant" proceedings in Newport Beach, Calif.

The Raiders even granted McMahan five days off from his work in Alameda for the festivities.

For the record, the Raiders had "Mr. Irrelevant" picks in 2003 and 2004 and neither made the team. Wide receiver Ryan Hoag was released and has spent some camp time with the Minnesota Vikings. Linebacker Andre Sommersell played in the CFL with Edmonton.

—Wide receiver Randy Moss was inducted to the Marshall University Hall of Fame, the school that allowed him to resurrect his career after being dismissed from Florida State for marijuana use.

Moss caught 55 touchdown passes in 28 games for Marshall and was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy.

—A Raiders helmet rushed to Alameda Hospital by a member of the public relations staff helped save the life of a 61-year-old woman.

Hospital medical staff was attempting a procedure in which a football helmet is used as an anchor to control internal bleeding in the esophagus, but the helmet did not fit the woman because of swelling.

Hospital staff had no luck getting a helmet until reaching the Raiders.

Brian Proctor, a new hire in the public relations department, fielded the call, cleared it with his superiors and delivered the helmet.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm excited to get my rookie hazing out of the way." — Raiders safety Michael Huff, when asked what he was looking forward to in training camp.
Rookie hazing...I can hardly wait to see what happens with McQ.

Always makes me smile when I hear these young guys talking about watching film.
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