|Raiders move on following Moss deal|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 05 May 2007 16:04|
Seventh-round pick Johnathan Holland and undrafted free agent Marquise Cole each are wearing Moss' old uniform number, yet generating much less attention than the old No. 18. The brief but unproductive Randy Moss era in Oakland is officially over.
``It seemed a little odd at the time but a number is a number,'' Holland said. ``I am not going to dwell on it. It's his old number and it's my number now so you just have to roll with the punches and deal with it.''
Dealing with life without Moss is not so difficult considering the Raiders didn't have much of Moss last season anyway. He complained the situation around the team was ``fishy'' before the opener was even played and used his radio show to criticize the team and suggest he'd be better off getting traded.
He ended the season with career lows with 42 catches for 553 yards and three touchdowns - blaming the poor production in part on his own unhappiness.
The Randy Moss that left Oakland last week for New England in a trade for a fourth-round draft pick was a lot different than the big-play receiver who arrived with a police escort two years ago.
``I've always thought that he was a great player and the stuff that he brought to the table way outweighed anything that you'll get a little externally,'' defensive tackle Warren Sapp said. ``But I guess somebody upstairs said it didn't. So those are the decisions that are made around here. I don't have to agree with them. I just have to go play. So let's go play football.''
The deal leaves 28-year-old Jerry Porter as the veteran leader of the receiving crew. Porter had only one catch last year when his playing time was limited because of injuries and a feud with the coaching staff. But he is much happier this season under new coach Lane Kiffin.
After spending nearly all his career behind more prominent receivers like Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and Moss, Porter is being counted on to step up this season.
``I'm like the fifth oldest guy on the team,'' Porter said. ``I remember back in the day we had a guy who was 40 something years old. Me not even being 30 and I'm the fifth-oldest guy. Youth movement, in a hurry. We needed it.''
The Raiders other returning receivers include Alvis Whitted, who started 15 games but did not score a touchdown last season; last year's leading receiver Ronald Curry and Doug Gabriel.
Curry, who had 62 catches for 727 yards and one touchdown last year, said Moss' absence won't change how any of the other receivers approach their jobs.
``I feel like we still have one of the better receiving corps in the league,'' Curry said. ``Obviously when you lose a guy like Randy it will knock it down a little bit. We still have some talented guys out there. ... Our wide receiver group will still be good.''
Oakland also brought in former first-round pick Mike Williams, who struggled in two seasons with Detroit but hopes to recover under for his former college assistant, Kiffin. Then there are the two draft picks, third-rounder Johnnie Lee Higgins out of UTEP and Holland, whose best attribute is as a gunner on punt coverage.
``There's a lot of work to be done there,'' Kiffin said. ``All we're trying to do is get guys better, one day at a time, and create competition. That's what we did by drafting two guys, by signing a free agent, by trading for Mike Williams. We're just creating competition and seeing who's going to rise to the top because that's what they're going to need to do when it counts.''
Two of the receivers have already been nicked up in practice. Williams hurt his hamstring and Holland dislocated his shoulder.