Raiders Blog and Q&A

News, observations and reader questions about the Oakland Raiders

September 8, 2010
Raiders sign Alford, cut Pears, move Scott back to DE, name Groves starting WLB and assign kick-return duties to Figurs

The Raiders reinforced their defensive line Wednesday by signing former New York Giants DT Jay Alford.

But they may have also weakened their offensive line and tight end corps by released OT Erik Pears in the corresponding roster move.

Maybe. You see, the Raiders only have two tight ends on the 53-man roster - Zach Miller and Brandon Myers - and it was Pears who often lined up in "tackle-eligible" plays.

Coach Tom Cable said Khalif Barnes is now the back-up offensive tackle on both the left and right sides and specifically mentioned Koming Loper as being able to play that "power tight end" spot, ala Pears.


So what does Alford, a third-round draft pick out of Penn State in 2007, offer the Raiders?

"He certainly showed today he has some quickness, some pass rush ability," Cable said of Alford. "It gives us some pass rush ability. It gives us another big body in there. A big guy that can be multiple and play both tackle and end."

Cable added that he thought the 6-foot-2, 280-pound Alford might be able to play in the opener at Tennessee, especially since he has previous experience with D-line coach Mike Waufle, who coached him with the Giants.

Alford, though, missed all of the 2009 season after blowing out a knee in the preseason. He insists he's healthy now, though, and sees himself thriving as a pass-rushing DT in Waufle's schemes.

"It's more attack and cause havoc in the backfield," Alford said. "That's my place, so I like it."

Not only did Alford serve as the Giants' long snapper as a rookie, he also had a key sack of Tom Brady late in Super Bowl XLII. And as Associated Press reporter Josh Dubow observed, the Raiders are ultra-deep at long snapper now, what with both a Pro Bowl long snapper in Jon Condo and a Super Bowl-winning ling snapper in Alford.


Most Interesting News Item of the Day, Part 1 - Cable confirming that weak-side linebacker Trevor Scott would indeed move to right defensive end, supplanting Matt Shaughnessy, while new Raider Quinten Groves, seen as being on the bubble to make the team by many observers, will start at WLB.

"Originally, just getting the best 11 players on the field, that's really what it comes down to," Cable said when asked what went into the decision. "And not that Matt Shaughnessy's not, because he's a dynamite player, this just gives us more quality depth to have on the field at all times."


Most Interesting News Item of the Day, Part 2 - Cable also said that Yamon Figurs would serve not only as the Raiders' kick-off returner, but also as their punt returner.

This after Figurs returned eight punts for 26 yards (3.3 yard-average), with a long of 16 yards. He also returned six kickoffs for 141 yards (23.5 yard-average), with a long of 34 yards in the preseason.

He also fumbled a kickoff against the 49ers and badly misplayed a punt against Seattle.

So what impressed the Raiders enough to hand him both jobs?

"Probably just the explosiveness," Cable said. "He touches it, and you got a chance for something big every time. That's a dimension, as we talked about at the end of last season, all through the spring, OTAs, through camp, was developing a return game. We have a number of good returners here. I just think right now, he's the guy we'll go with."

And what about his ball security issues?

"I just think the one, against Seattle, was more kind of misplaying the ball more than anything else," Cable said. "And I think some of that is first time, him being in our stadium and being able to handle it, didn't get the opportunity the week before against San Francisco. He was returning kickoffs. So, not too concerned about it. We kind of put him in that situation here this week and feel good about it."

Fans waiting on rookie Jacoby Ford, the fastest receiver at the Combine, will have to wait some more.


For timelier updates, follow me on Twitter @PaulHGutierrez

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About Raiders Blog and Q&A

Matt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee's sports staff in fall 2011.

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