Posted by Bill Soliday, Raiders beat writer for ANG Newspapers
When Phillip Buchanon left for Houston, nobody threw him a going away party in Oakland. His act was growing old with fans, teammates, coaches and we won’t even get into his media relations. Suffice it to say, listening to him talk about himself in the third person got a little old after awhile.
Personally, I don’t think he’s a bad guy. A bit undisciplined and a bit egocentric (actually a lot egocentric), yes. Bad guy ehhhh probably not.
Well, he’s in Houston now and the Texans seem to think “Showtime” is just the solution for their 24th ranked pass defense … even though he was starting on the league’s 30th ranked pass defense a year ago.
“Phillip’s got so much talent,” secondary coach Jon Hoke said. “If he does his job consistently, he’s going to make us better. He can bring so much to our defense because he’s got so much big play ability.”
The Texans want him to team up with Dunta Robinson to play tight man coverage. Well, good luck there. Buchanon played well frankly it was rather hard to figure out just what he was playing at times.
As for Hoke’s comment about big plays, there is no questioning that. He had six interceptions two years ago and returned two for touchdowns. Raider fans remember well that he also returned three punts for touchdowns during his Oakland years.
Ah, but they also remember him yanking his helmet off in celebration after a big play in Kansas City, taking the team out of field goal range in a tight game.
Who can forget Tim Brown’s comment following that game: “Phillip giveth and Phillip taketh away.”
Phillip is now saying that day marked the beginning of the end in Oakland, as far as he was concerned. In a story written by John McClain in the Houston Chronicle, Buchanon let his feelings out.
“When Tim Brown said what he said, everything went downhill for me,” Buchanon said. “Basically he was saying that I help sometimes and sometimes I mess up. Ever since he said that, I lost respect for him. Ever since then, everybody’s been jumping on me.”
Buchanon requested a trade late in the 2004 season to get away from the Raiders, who subsequently obliged him. New teammate receiver Andre Johnson, who played with Buchanon and was his best friend at the University of Miami, has been his buddy in Houston.
“Phillip’s a good guy,” Johnson said. “He’s not what everybody says he is. He’s going to speak his mind. He’s not going to lie just to impress anybody. He said what he felt (in Oakland) and it just got him in a bad situation.
“A lot of people have different opinions of Phillip. A lot of people say he brags a lot, talks a lot (but) he’s not that type of guy. He plays with a lot of confidence and he’s really going to help our defense because he makes a lot of plays.”
The Raiders fly out of Oakland tomorrow morning bound for Houston and a reunion with Showtime and Company. Two practices going against Randy Moss and his buddies will ensue, then a Saturday night game.
Its show time and only time will tell who will be taking the bows when the aisles empty.
Lechlers Learning Curve
Once a football player always a football player. Shane Lechler was a quarterback in high school. Now he is a punter in the NFL. And the Raiders wish he’d act like one. A punter, that is.
Lechler, who just happens to be the most prolific punter in the history of the NFL and was probably the Raiders MVP a year ago, really got everybody’s knickers in a bunch Saturday night on his first game kick of the season.
The snap was a little off, the rush was on him like a wad of hornets so he took off running around right end … which seemed like a good idea at the time. Not such a good one now.
He got snagged by Saleem Rashad of the 49ers, staggered to the ground and came up with a pulled hamstring on his right kicking leg. He also came up getting an earful from his coaches, who had told him beforehand to do nothing heroic in a mere exhibition game.
Now he knows. And even though the injury has been declared nothing serious, because leg injuries to kickers can linger and diminish their effectiveness long after they return, there is unofficial concern.
“On a scale of one to ten, I’d say this was a five,” Lechler said Monday. “But I’ll tell you what, yesterday (Sunday) it felt a lot better than I thought it would feel. I was really happy with that. We’ll see. Time will tell with this one.”
For the record, Lechler said even if the snap had been on the money he wouldn’t have been able to kick given the rush he was facing.
“It happened when the guy tripped me a little bit,” he said. “If my hamstring doesn’t give up on me there, I definitely wouldn’t have gone down. I watched it on film. I tried to regain my balance and there was just nothing there. That’s when it happened.”
Lechler admitted he was too much of a player at heart to just lie down as his coaches ordered.
“You’re not going to do that,” he said, revealing his competitive spirit. “I felt like a dumb ass after it really did happen and I didn’t do what they said. (But) I would have really felt like one too if I had just laid down.”
Great To See Ya
Guests at the Raider camp Monday afternoon were affiliated with a business enterprise headed by former 49ers Harris Barton and Ronnie Lott. Although Lott was not present, Barton was. A Niner alumnus visiting the dark side?
“They’ve been really nice to us,” Barton said. “Everybody’s been commenting on it.”
That’s swell, but Barton hadn’t heard what happened to former 49ers teammate Brent Jones several years ago when he showed up as working press as a TV commentator.
Jones was decidedly NOT welcome. Something to do with the contract he and Steve Young signed with Carmen Policy several years earlier that the Raiders felt represented an illegal evasion of rules involving the salary cap.
Brent has not been back and I doubt if Steve will make a stab at attending. As for Carmen … even though he’s now a Napa vintner, forget it.
Eyes And Ears