Wilson adds physical element to Raiders secondary Print
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Friday, 25 July 2008 11:57
NFL Headline News

 NAPA, Calif. (AP) -Javon Walker caught a pass and tucked it away, only to have it promptly knocked out for a fumble by Gibril Wilson.
That's just the kind of physical, play-making ability at safety that has been lacking so often in recent years for the Oakland Raiders and the main reason why they signed Wilson to a $39 million, six-year contract that included about $16 million in guaranteed money.
``Gibril really is bringing a good mentality to our defense,'' coach Lane Kiffin said Friday. ``He's extremely physical out here and it's good to see. It borderlines right now on the safety of our other players but our defense needs to see that, so it's something I don't want him to back off on right now. I want to let them feel him so that it grows around the rest of the defense and we become more physical.''
The Raiders signed Wilson away from the Super Bowl champion New York Giants on the first day of free agency, showing the importance they placed on getting a safety who is physical to play close to the line of scrimmage to stop the run.
Wilson's 284 solo tackles since entering the NFL in 2004 are the most of any safety during that span. He had 70 tackles and a career-high four interceptions in 13 games for the Giants last season.
``I'm just trying to bring the way that I now how to play into the secondary and the whole defense,'' he said. ``I'm just trying to get everybody to get that physicalness.''
The addition of Wilson at strong safety allowed the Raiders to move 2006 first-round pick Michael Huff to his more natural free safety position and cut Stuart Schweigert, who took much of the blame for the team's tackling woes in the secondary.
The Raiders allowed a league-worst 4.8 yards per carry last season, often missing tackles against running backs in the open field. Oakland allowed 18 runs of 20 or more yards last season, tied with Denver for most in the NFL and twice as many as the Giants gave up in 2007.
Wilson vows to change that this year and plans to take some of the pressure off an undersized linebacker corps led by middle linebacker Kirk Morrison.
``Coach asked me if I wanted to play free or strong. I told him I want to be where the ball is, so strong,'' Wilson said. ``I told Kirk that. I was messing with Kirk, I know he's been leading the team in tackles, but I'm coming to get him.''
Wilson grew up in San Jose and has followed the Raiders since he was young. He was schooled on highlights of Willie Brown intercepting passes and Jack Tatum leveling unsuspecting receivers, but there have been few highlights to savor in recent years.
Oakland has won just 19 games the past five seasons, the fewest in the NFL, and has tasted almost no success since winning the AFC championship in the 2002 season. The Giants won 14 games just last season with Wilson, including four postseason wins capped by the 17-14 victory over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
Wilson is hoping to help the Raiders get somewhere close to that level now that he is back home in the Bay Area.
``I know one thing - a lot of my friends and family are Oakland fans, so I don't want to have to listen to the negative talk,'' he said. ``It's just very important to just get back to winning, to get back to the Oakland mystique, the silver and black. I know when I was growing up, when I thought about silver and black I thought about nasty, knock guys out on defense. That's what we need to get back to.''
 

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