|Slimmed-down Warren Sapp still has big voice for Raiders|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 06 August 2007 09:51|
Whether he's arguing with the officials, needling a teammate or giving instructions to a younger player, Sapp's booming voice serves as the soundtrack for Oakland Raiders practices at training camp.
``He's just Warren, and that's the best way you can put it,'' said receiver Mike Williams, a frequent target of Sapp's this summer. ``He doesn't mean anybody any harm. He is how he is, and one thing you can say about him, he' consistent. He's not somebody who's going to be rowdy one day and you're not going to hear him the next. You know that. It's all fun.''
Sapp has been vocal about Williams' weight, saying he should block instead of catching passes. He's also gotten on linebacker Sam Williams for how to properly play a particular defense, demonstrated how to beat a block as a tackle to Tyler Brayton and begged officials for calls in training camp drills.
He even got into a dustup with rookie free agent offensive lineman Jesse Boone that needed to be broken up. Coach Lane Kiffin said he has no problem with Sapp's enthusiasm.
``I welcome the energy as long as the energy matches the play and he's been doing that so far out here,'' Kiffin said. ``What we don't want out here is wasted energy and all of a sudden the guy's not playing on the field. But Warren's been great. He's practicing extremely hard out here and finishing plays and giving us exactly what we need that way.''
Even though Mike Williams is in his first training camp with the Raiders after spending two years in Detroit, he's quickly learning how to deal with Sapp's barbs.
``I used to think if you ignored him it would just go away. But it doesn't. If he thinks you're ignoring him, it gets worse,'' he said. ``If he wasn't good for this team, or good for the guys, he would know it, I'm sure. No one takes any offense to him and what he does, because he's not really a distraction. It's not negative. It's just kind of, 'Oh, there's Warren.' It's more entertainment than it is an insult.''
Sapp spent the offseason shedding weight at home in Florida, dropping from 334 pounds late last season to 282 when he arrived at camp last month. He wants to add a few pounds before the season, but he will still be as light as he's been for almost a decade.
Sapp did just fine at his old weight, recording 10 sacks in his most productive season since 2000 and anchoring a defense that was the only strength for the Raiders during a 2-14 season.
Despite the big numbers, Sapp didn't get picked for a Pro Bowl - a slight that motivated his offseason workouts. New England's Richard Seymour, San Diego's Jamal Williams and Pittsburgh's Casey Hampton were all chosen as starters. Jacksonville's John Henderson replaced an injured Seymour, but those four players combined to have fewer sacks than Sapp did on his own.
``I put up 10 sacks and the dudes they sent to the Pro Bowl had nine I think combined,'' Sapp said. ``We were the third-rated defense. I felt a little disrespected that I put in this game that many years and I put up that kind of year and it was just overlooked.''
So he spent the offseason slimming down in hopes that it will improve his conditioning late in games. One of the biggest things the Raiders want to improve on defensively is run defense in the fourth quarter.
Sapp is not worried about taking more beating in the middle of the line at a lighter weight, saying he'll be able to slip through cracks.
``You can go longer when you got the wind,'' he said. ``That's the thing that I want to contribute this year. I know I can't go 70 plays anymore. I'm not a fool. But I can go 45 and those 45 are going to be deadly. That's what I want to be able to give this team ... and be deadly in those number of plays that I give them.''