|Position switch nothing new for Wakefield|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 29 July 2008 22:36|
Then when backup offensive lineman Mark Wilson went down with a broken leg, Wakefield switched sides of the ball and has been working at right tackle and guard. That's quite a few positions in less than a week of training camp, especially for a player originally signed by Oakland as a tight end.
``If there's an easy transition for anybody it would be him,'' coach Lane Kiffin said. ``We did train him last year before he got hurt to be our backup tight end that would go in there and play in emergency, so he's got a little bit of background in our system. We'll continue to see what's out there.''
Wakefield was an All-Big Ten defensive end at Illinois before entering the NFL as an undrafted free agent with the Arizona Cardinals in 2001. He stayed on the defensive side of the ball at first, playing three years at defensive line. He played 42 games on defense, starting 31 of them, and posting 70 tackles and 6 1/2 sacks.
A foot injury forced Wakefield to miss the entire 2004 season and during that time off he began attending offensive line meetings to learn a new position.
He appeared in 15 games, making nine starts at both guard and tackle in 2005. He moved to left tackle the following season to back up Leonard Davis but also began working with the tight ends. With Davis remaining healthy all season, Wakefield got all his time at tight end and made two catches while mostly being used as a blocker.
Oakland signed him as a free agent last season as a blocking tight end, but he injured his knee early in training camp during a special teams drill and missed the entire season.
But plans began to change again this offseason.
``When they brought me in last year, the plan was to kind of do the same thing, play at tight end and work at offensive line,'' Wakefield said. ``In spring, they called me in and asked me if I'd go over there so I said 'Why not?' And that's about it.''
After working at both tight end and defensive line in offseason workouts, he played exclusively at defensive line when training camp started. Wilson's injury over the weekend led to the latest switch.
Wakefield said he just loves playing football and doesn't care where he plays even if the constant changes have made it somewhat difficult to specialize at any one task. Now that he has shifted to offensive line, he has switched his number from 87 to 78 and says he will need to add a little weight to his 285-pound frame.
``Where do I feel best at right now at this second? Guard or tackle on the offensive side just because that's what I've done more recently,'' he said. ``It doesn't really bother me. I want to play. If I can keep bouncing around wherever they need me to help us win some games, I'll do it.''
While Wakefield's flexibility has proved useful this offseason, Kiffin said he's not sure how much time Wakefield could get at other positions once the season starts.
``You kind of usually don't in this league,'' Kiffin said. ``That's more the college or even high school where a guy plays both ways, can do a bunch of things. This league usually you're sitting at eight D-linemen or nine offensive linemen, and usually a guy can't really do two things because it's so hard at an elite level to play and there's so much training that goes into it. But Fred's been able to do it before.''