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It’s Chaz vs. Crabtree, not DHB

By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, May 15th, 2009 at 9:44 am in Oakland Raiders.

Darrius Heyward-Bey and Michael Crabtree will be compared week to week and season to season by virtue of their draft slots and Bay Area locales.

In the days leading up to the Raiders-49ers game on Aug. 22, count on a flood of Heyward-Bey vs. Crabtree stories recounting Oakland’s unblinking commitment to 40-yard dash times over college production.

It’s possible the Raiders never even considered Crabtree. He simply didn’t meet their speed standard and perhaps they were scared off by the stress fracture in his foot.

But even if they gave Crabtree a look, there is a legitimate reason to pass on the Texas Tech star who most analysts considered the NFL’s top receiving prospect.

As dicey as it is to read too much into five non-contact practices spread out over three days, that reason is Chaz Schilens.

It might be a better idea to fire up the Schilens vs. Crabtree graphics rather than use Heyward-Bey as the comparison.

For what it’s worth, Schilens is taller than Crabtree (a legitimate 6-foot-4 to a little under 6-2). He’s faster, with sub 4.4 times in Pro Days before entering the 2008 draft. He’s got a 43-inch vertical leap.

From the looks of it, Schilens’ job will be to run the same kind of routes the Raiders would have asked of Crabtree. A lot of 15- to 17-yard routes, putting him in areas where he can use his athletic skill to go up and get the ball.

Heyward-Bey serves a different purpose. He’ll run those routes as well, but his main job is to strike fear into opposing defenses as a vertical threat, a guy who makes the occasional big play and also clears out areas for players like Schilens.

Al Davis made a point of singling out Schilens, as well as Johnnie Lee Higgins, as young players who probably should have played more and sooner last season. So it was no surprise that when Tom Cable replaced Lane Kiffin, he got Schilens on to the field more often.

Schilens didn’t set the NFL aflame, catching 15 passes for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Seven rookie wide receivers _ Eddie Royal (Denver), DeSean Jackson (Philadelphia), Davone Bess (Miami), Donnie Avery (St. Louis), Jordy Nelson (Green Bay), harry Douglas (Atlanta) and Josh Morgan (San Francisco) had more receptions.

After starting in Weeks 7 and 8 and catching a 60-yard pass against Baltimore, Schilens had an ankle injury and didn’t catch a pass for six weeks despite being active in each game. In the last two games, Schilens caught six passes for 98 yards and two scores.

So Schilens was one of the players I wanted to watch closely. He was a seventh-round draft pick, No. 226 overall, taken with a selection the Raiders acquired for Bobby Hamilton from the New York Jets in 2006.

His draft status suggests he was second banana to fourth-round pick Arman Shields, who, unlike Schilens, was invited to the scouting combine and thrived there.

So was Schilens just a guy who thrived late in the season in garbage time of a lost season or someone who had begun to make a career for himself as an emerging player on a team with some good young talent?

The mandatory minicamp suggests the latter. Schilens was the best and most consistent receiver on the field. There was one end zone drop, but I can’t remember any other misplays. Operating with the first team, he was going up a lot against starter Chris Johnson and nickel back Stanford Routt. (It seems Nnamdi Asomugha isn’t tested much even in practice, plus he sat out a lot of reps).

He found openings in the middle, played large and looked comfortable and sure of himself. Crabtree, meanwhile, is out of action in San Francisco until his foot heals.

On one hand, Schilens has talked before of his seventh-round status as a chip on his shoulder. But that doesn’t stop him from preparing like a guy who is scrapping to make the team. There isn’t a trace of “I told you so” in him.

He concedes he erred in trying to play through his ankle injury rather than taking some time off to heal and come back full speed.

“I think I could have been able to contribute more to the team,” Schilens said. “I hurt my ankle pretty bad and tired to fight through it and ended up hurting myself more. The season is long, it’s long for everyone, especially rookies, and you’re just trying to take it week to week. I think to build off what I did for last season and hopefully it will make me tougher this season.”

Schilens took a couple of weeks off before getting back at it, and said he has been running routes with Raiders quarterbacks “for six or seven weeks . . . we’re getting our timing down.”

During the offseason, Schilens heard he had been singled out by Davis and seemed unaffected by it.

“You’ve got five receivers on a roster,” Schilens said. “That’s why you’re here. You’re expected to do that.”

Miscellaneous

– Here is some more information on Robert Gallery’s cruise from Dublin to Livermore to raise money for the children of the four Oakland police officers killed in the line of duty.

– The signing of tight end John Paul Foschi, first reported by Foxsports.com, is official. It is listed in transactions on Raiders.com.

– Here’s how former Raider Warren Sapp answered questions related to his former team on an NFL.com chat Thursday:

Q: Do you think JaMarcus Russell will ultimately be a bust?

Sapp: No, no way, no shape, no form of one.

Q: Can u believe the raiders took heyward-bey?

Sapp: Actually, I knew that was going to happen. If I don’t know nothing else, I got the pulse of the Raiders. I was told two weeks before it hpapened and they liked the safety.

Q: Who would win in a hot dog eating contest, you or Tom Cable?

Sapp: Cable. Idon’t like hot dogs.

Q: Does Al Davis really call the plays much to the chagrin of the coaches and players?

Sapp: Sometimes it’s been known to happen.

Q: Do you think the Raiders are headed in the right direction?

Sapp: As long as Al Davis commands the fort, then the fort won’t change.

Q: Is Derrick Burgess done?

Sapp: No chance.

Q: What did you think of the black hole?

Sapp: One of the legendary placdes in the NFL. I thought it was as crazy as it was insane and insane as it was lovely. One kind of place.

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  • http://atm Raider O

    Sapp is just Stupid. That was an insult to Every Fox in this world!!

  • 4evaRaider

    I been posting about a year and Norco Bob has been right on his predictions

  • 4evaRaider

    I BLOG!!!

  • http://atm Raider O

    What’s up Oak?

    I know you liked RR, but he was another reason for why the offense didn’t do well. RR and his Prevent D!!!

    RR’s Defense put a lot of pressure on our Offense, look at the Bills and TB games!!

  • http://atm Raider O

    4eva,

    What’s up bro?
    #52, LMFAO

  • Braveheartraider

    Oakglenn…

    Some good points concerning depth. We dont have many great players, 2 or 3 at most, but we’re not dependent upon a small group of players for success. The depth we do have, even though starting talent is’nt great, is all round. There would be no significant drop off in talent if we lose a starting QB, HB, or WR. There’s a lot of hungry young players with something to prove and a real opportunity to shine at this ball club. Most of these guys would prob be lucky to make 70% of the current NFL rosters; here they have a chance. I got no problem with young enthusiastic players at the Raiders. We’ve stunk for so long that we need a clear out. Start afresh.

  • http://RAIDERS Oakglenn

    new post BTW

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  • Nnamdi21

    Good for Gallery. Hope he has another good year.

  • kvnbntly

    neither an analyst or near as knowledgeable as most of yall, but i think raiders offensive will be very competitive, first in my mind is that we don’t have to go through the traditional phasing out of the vet rb (fargas) the o line should have a bit of a fire lit under them, with the new additions and offseason bashing, chaz is reportidly looking sound higgins showed he has promise and our special teams, which have been next to forgotten are excellent ( i’m looking for them to score three or more games this year)the next camp should tell us alot more about dhb

    everyone is talking about the offense stepping up, seems to me the d needs to step up and keep us out of gotta pass situations where the opposition can blitz every time we turn around hopefully the new d cordinator, who supposidly loves to blitz can get some pressure on opposing qb’s i do believe the db’s and safety positions will be improved we need turnovers, and to quite giving away the fourth quarter
    seems to be alot to ask for, but most of the moss era money grabbers are gone, and i think after the offseason these young “chip on their shoulder players”
    are up to the challenge
    so untill that is proven wrong raiders are gonna “kick ass, yeah yeah yeah”

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  • mcdonaghm

    Jerry great article I still think they should have traded down even to just save money. Crabtree and DHB will be forever linked however. If Chaz can develop into anywhere near a number one receiver he is the steal of the 2008 draft.

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  • centurionWR87

    Yeh top quality article, love the optimism, i hope you’re right. Would love to see a dynamic Raiders offence! Even if we are mainly going run, we need some other options, basically guys who can catch and make 10+ yards at a time..

  • fggcisco

    Heres where the realty sets in.

    Q: Do you think the Raiders are headed in the right direction?

    Sapp: As long as Al Davis commands the fort, then the fort won’t change.

    Seeing Al on monday nite football drooling and the blanket wraped around him was sad and pathetic. Seeing Jbusto one jelly filled donut away from being his own left tackle.
    Well we get the picture. Like the rest of the NFL knows
    “Its the Raiders. We turned into loosers.
    Oh well “Just 4-12 Baby”

  • RaidersMom

    Raider O…I fully agree with you regarding Chaz. I was high on him and wanted him and was thrilled when they got him. I have mentioned this before, but, I will never forget one analyst’s description of him…”He is a poor man’s Randy Moss” And, I believe it! If Chaz can stay healthy I am very confident he is going to be a big part of the Raiders offense. He has the speed and leaping ability to be a long ball threat. Here’s hoping he can stay healthy and give the Raiders another weapon for DCs to worry about and try to defend!

    GO RAIDERS!!!

  • Raider Joseph

    To the Whiner fan who says that the Raiders are “loosers”, I assume you meant losers – because nobody is “looser” than the whiners. When Sapp said that the fort won’t change, because Al davis is still in charge, which fort does he mean? The “we went to 5 Super Bowls fort”, or the “we have had a down six years fort”? The reason I asked the question is that both are under Davis. The Raiders are getting better, and you should not use the time when we aren’t even on the field to bash us and our Quarterback. He threw very fiew picks despite being under heavy pressure. Fans don’t bash their team like this.

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