Team Report....

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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Raiders Team Report


By Steve Corkran


Second-year cornerback Fabian Washington has settled into his role as an NFL starter after a rookie season in which he struggled with his confidence. He no longer is relying only upon his athletic ability to get by. He has grasped Oakland's defensive scheme, learned what to look for from receivers by watching videotape, and resumed his aggressive ways. His hard work has manifested itself in an interception--he had none last season--and a near interception in Oakland's first two exhibition games. Washington's progress lessens the impact of the Raiders losing starter Charles Woodson via free agency after last season and gives the Raiders a nice complement to fellow starter Nnamdi Asomugha.

Second-year player Chris Carr shined on kick returns last season but struggled with his consistency on punt returns. To that end, the Raiders are searching for ways to put Carr in better position to break long runs on punt returns. Applying more pressure on the punter is one approach being undertaken, with the thinking, teams won't be able to take as much time getting off the punt or have as much time to get downfield in coverage, therefore freeing up Carr to get a head of steam before the coverage arrives. Carr is fast, aggressive and fearless. His straight-ahead style endears him to the Raiders and makes him a threat to break a long run almost every time he touches the ball. His lone downside is he tries to make something happen when there isn't much of an opportunity to do so. This leads to muffs and bad decisions as to when to field punts.


Veteran defensive end Lance Johnstone has worked his way into Oakland's defensive line rotation as a pass-rushing specialist. His presence figures to give the Raiders a huge boost in creating pressure on the quarterback because now teams likely won't be as apt to double-team reigning sack king Derrick Burgess. Johnstone also is helping fourth-year player Tyler Brayton refine his moves. Johnstone uses his speed and quickness to get past offensive tackles and into position to get a sack or knock the football from the quarterback's hands. He has slowed a little in recent years, but he still has the ability to provide a spark and make a key play as long as he is used sparingly, as the Raiders intend to do with him.


The Raiders finished with a league-record low five interceptions last season and didn't force as many turnovers overall as they hoped for. The Raiders have spent an inordinate amount of time working on drills designed to enhance their ability to force more turnovers. They practice tipping balls into the air, with another player going after the ball before it hits the ground. They also do drills where a coach rolls out a ball and a player chases after it and either falls on it or picks it up and keeps running. So far, it has worked well. The Raiders forced seven turnovers in their first two exhibition games, including four interceptions. There will be an increased emphasis on these drills throughout camp and into the regular season until the awareness becomes ingrained in the players.


Second-year fullback John Paul Foschi has developed into a solid player for the Raiders, only a year after his conversion from tight end. He was moved because of his blocking ability. Now, the Raiders have someone capable of blocking for lead back LaMont Jordan, especially on short-yardage and goal-line plays. Foschi also has good hands as a receiver, though he isn't expected to have many passes thrown his way in an offense loaded at receiver. He also shouldn't expect to carry the ball too often, if at all.

Third-year wide receiver Johnnie Morant opened some eyes by turning a deep route into a 67-yard touchdown reception in Oakland's second exhibition game. Morant doesn't get a lot of practice reps or playing time in games because of the presence of Randy Moss, Jerry Porter, Doug Gabriel and Ronald Curry. However, he continues to shine each time he gets an opportunity. Therefore, look for him to make the team for a third straight season and perhaps work his way into the rotation as a fourth or fifth option. Lack of playing time is his lone downside.

Fourth-year defensive tackle Terdell Sands is getting more playing time now that veteran starter Ted Washington is gone. He has earned his way into the regular rotation and figures to get more and more playing time as he matures. He is big, strong and tough to block. Look for him to replace veteran Warren Sapp whenever Sapp retires.
I think that with Carr he is trying to shed the habit of not using the fair catch in college. He is getting better, IMO, and I am not worried about it.

Sands has played well but I would still like another defensive with girth.

I can see from the first two games that we are going to be agressive in causing turnovers.
I think Antajj Hawthorne will give us a good DT with girth. It seems like he's accepted the NT role and is progressing well. Against the 2's and 3's he penetrates well and anchors against the double-team. I'd like to see him get some time against the 1's to really judge his progress.

Carr worries me a bit with his decisions, but if he can calm down out there, he could be really good.

I really like Foschi's development. He's seriously big as a FB and can flat out pancake backers and stop a DE dead in his tracks. He's got some seriously useful bulk. To that end, Hall is similar and even bigger. I watched one play against the 3's last week where he blocked 3 guys in succession on a play, he took the 1st 2 out of the play and went on to wall off a 3rd. Granted, the play took a little long in developing, and the last 2 guys were a CB and a safety, but he did it and I was impressed.

Hmmm, Johnstone helping Brayton, could be a good thing.

I didn't really notice Sands last game, I'll make more of an effort to watch for him this game.
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